Fossil Fuels

Ashland Divestment
7:31 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Ashland City Council Passes Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution

File photo of a truck at a Wyoming coal mine. Ashland has become the second Oregon city to formally come out against the investment of its dollars in coal and other fossil fuel industries.
Credit Katie Campbell

The city of Ashland passed a resolution Tuesday night supporting divestment from the fossil fuel industry. It joins Eugene as the only other Northwest city to take this kind of action to fight climate change.

The scope of the resolution is limited.

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Oregon Transportation Commission
6:26 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Oregon Approves Subsidy For Oil Transport, Not Coal

The Oregon Transportation Commission Friday voted to deny funding for controversial coal exports but approved subsidies that will allow more oil trains to travel along the Columbia River.
Credit McD22 / Flickr

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Friday to deny funding for controversial coal exports but approved subsidies that will allow more oil trains to travel along the Columbia River.

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Coal Export Dock
7:30 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Oregon Denies Permit For Controversial Coal Export Dock

Several Columbia River tribes asked the state of Oregon to deny a permit for a controversial coal export dock at this site in Boardman.
Credit Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission

The state of Oregon Monday denied a controversial permit for a coal export dock on the Columbia River. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

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Oil Safety
7:49 am
Thu August 7, 2014

Report Raises Safety Concerns About Oil By Water

An oil barge. A new report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service concludes that a shift in transport of oil to barges and ships raises many safety concerns.
Credit Kill van Kull / Flickr

Many communities across the Northwest are worried about the safety risks of shipping crude oil by rail. But a new report raises safety concerns about another shipping method: Oil by water. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

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Oil Train Safety
6:37 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Oregon Report Identifies Gaps In Oil Train Safety

Reports show three oil trains a week pass through Oregon on the way to the Global Pacific oil terminal near Clatskanie, and additional oil trains pass through central and southern Oregon on their way to California once a week.
Credit Tony Schick / EarthFix

Several mile-long oil trains cross through the state of Oregon every week carrying volatile oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields. A new report released today Friday identifies gaps in Oregon's ability to handle the safety risks. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

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Tesoro Explosion
7:43 am
Tue July 8, 2014

In Refinery Explosion, Who's Accountable?

Charred towers and machinery at the Tesoro Corp. refinery in Anacortes, Washington, following the blast.
Credit Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

It's been four years since a deadly explosion at an oil refinery shook the town of Anacortes, Washington. The question of who's responsible for seven workers' deaths still hasn't been answered fully. Refinery owner Tesoro agreed to pay millions to families of the dead, but the company is fighting accusations that it willfully put its workers in harm’s way. With multiple legal proceedings continuing to swirl around the accident, it remains unclear whether anyone will be held accountable for the human cost of Tesoro gasoline. John Ryan brings us part one of this KUOW investigation.

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Coal Exports
7:23 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Poll Finds Coal Export Supporters Outnumber Opponents

A new DHM Research survey of Northwest residents finds that support for coal exports through the Northwest is up from where it was last year, when the issue was the subject of public debate and news coverage.
Credit Heidi Neilsen / GoodWorks

More people in the Northwest support coal export terminals than oppose them. Those are the results of a new survey. But people who took the survey didn’t feel very strongly about why they support coal exports. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

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Railway Whistleblowers
7:43 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Workers Question Safety Culture Of Railroad Hauling Volatile Crude Oil

BNSF Railway, the second-largest freight network in the U.S., is at the center of the boom in crude by rail. The railroad touts its commitment to safety. Current and former workers question the safety culture on the ground.
Credit Michael Werner / EarthFix

Crude oil shipments by rail increased by more than 80 percent, nationally, last year.

Most of it is coming from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That crude is more flammable than other types of oil, and has been shown to catch fire and explode when trains derail.

More than 15 trains of Bakken oil move through some parts of the Northwest each week, en route to refineries and terminals in Washington and Oregon.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway transports the majority of that oil.

The company regularly touts its commitment to safety.

But an EarthFix investigation reveals some troubling patterns in the way BNSF Railway deals with whistleblowers – particularly those who voice concerns about safety.

Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix. EarthFix’s Tony Schick contributed to the reporting for this story.

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Coal Regulators
8:03 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Regulators Discuss Future Of Coal In The West

This image of the coal-fired plant in Colstrip, Mont., was made in the 1980s by Montana native David T. Hanson. It was part of an exhibit at Modern Museum of Art in New York.
Credit David T. Hanson / EarthFix

The Obama administration’s new rules to cut CO2 emissions sparked some interesting conversation in Seattle this week. At a conference held downtown, leaders in the energy sector gathered to talk about the future of coal in the West. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

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Diesel Ownership
7:34 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Northwest Diesel Ownership Among Tops Nationally, Still Lags Behind Europe

A truck carrying diesel fuel.
Credit FlickrLickr / Wikimedia Commons

Northwesterners love their diesel pickups. A new report by a diesel industry group shows Oregon and Idaho are in the top ten when it comes to highest rates of diesel vehicle ownership in the nation. But the overall rate pales in comparison to other parts of the world. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

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