Northwest News

Northwest Public Radio is a participant and contributor in the Northwest News Network (N3), a collaboration of public radio stations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Our reporters bring a regional perspective to coverage of Northwest states' government, environment, economy, and other news of widespread interest to residents of the Northwest. Regional news on Northwest Public Radio is a part of Morning Edition every weekday morning, and All Things Considered in the afternoons.

Even though Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, you can't legally buy the stuff in more than 100 Oregon communities. That's because some city and county governments have banned recreational marijuana businesses.

But voters in nearly half of those places will have the chance to overturn those bans this November.

Bet you didn't know people can bet on the outcome of the presidential election via the lottery. Not our lottery mind you, but the one in British Columbia.

A Native American caucus is in Philadelphia this week to speak for the priorities of Northwest tribes at the Democratic National Convention.

California, Oregon and Washington state have lofty goals for increasing the number of non-polluting vehicles on the road. To achieve those goals, you and your neighbors will need to buy electric cars at a higher rate that we're seeing now.

Hundreds of electric car enthusiasts and policymakers gathered this week in Portland to weigh how to accelerate consumer demand.

Oregonians will vote this fall on whether to fully fund an outdoor education program for the state's fifth and sixth graders. An initiative that would do that qualified for the Oregon ballot Friday.

After a year-long hiatus, the largest powwow in the Northwest has returned to traditional grounds of the Coeur D’Alene Tribe. Julyamsh was cancelled last year after the state of Idaho legalized horse-racing machines at a park where the celebration used to be held.

People who live in the country who want to play Pokémon Go have a problem.

There are a lot of techie reasons why Pokémon stops are found more often in cities. But generally speaking, where there are more players or people there is usually more Pokémon activity on the game -- it just works better.

Embattled Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is not seeking re-election. Five candidates are running in the August 2 primary to replace him and restoring trust in the office is a recurring theme of the campaigns.

Matt Boulton / Flickr

A federal judge has ruled that evidence federal law enforcement gathered from Facebook will be allowed into the September trial for those accused of occupying the Malheur Refuge. 

Nine candidates are vying to replace outgoing Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. The results of the August 2 primary will pare that list down to two finalists for the non-partisan job.

Renee Montagne talks to former Sheriff Sue Rahr, head of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, about the impact the recent police attacks in Baton Rouge and Dallas are having.

Mosier Groundwater Contaminated After Oil Train Derailment

Jul 20, 2016
Washington Department of Ecology

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality has found contaminated groundwater at the site of last month’s oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge.

Historic forest fires. The Oso landslide. Global warming. These are among the issues in the race for Washington Commissioner of Public Lands. The position oversees state trust lands that generate money for schools.

The commissioner must also navigate a constant tension between the timber industry and environmentalists.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

Mount Adams rises above the horizon as Washington’s second tallest volcano -- 12,276 feet. It’s a peak that Northwest Public Radio’s Courtney Flatt has been dreaming of reaching for years. She convinced two friends to climb to the summit with her this summer, and sent an audio - and video - postcard. 

Some players in an emerging technology industry in central Washington state are about to face higher electric bills. That’s because a major utility wants to protect itself from the uncertainties surrounding the trade in virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

The political spotlight this week is on the Republican convention in Cleveland. Next week it will move to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. But Washington voters have a political homework assignment that has nothing to do with the conventions -- and it’s due August 2.

Vancouver Council Approves Refinery Ban

Jul 19, 2016
Flickr user Loco Steve / Flickr

The Vancouver City Council voted unanimously Monday night to ban future crude oil facilities and refineries.

Mayor Tim Leavitt says the new law shows the city council is committed to attracting industries that don’t pose a significant environmental threat.

“This ordinance tonight, I think is an important message coming from your city council, a value proposition that we are standing on and that is our community can be vibrant, it can be prosperous, it can be enjoyable without the sorts of industries could create circumstances otherwise,” said Leavitt.

Ryan Payne Pleads Guilty In Malheur Case

Jul 19, 2016
Ryan Bjorkquist / Flickr

One of the leading figures from the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal district court in Portland. Prosecutors dismissed one of the charges against Ryan Payne.

John Ryan / KUOW

Oil company Tesoro has agreed to spend about four-hundred-million dollars to reduce air pollution from its refineries in Anacortes and other locations around the western United States.
That's under an agreement the Justice Department announced on Monday.

Ammon Bundy, one of the key figures of the armed occupation of the Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge, took the stand Monday in U.S. District Court, where he acknowledged taking over the refuge and said the group worked together to accomplish the goals of the occupation.

Bundy, who had his ankles shackled and a pocket copy of the Constitution poking out of his blue jail scrubs, pushed back when prosecutors said he led the occupation near Burns, Oregon.

“It was more of a combined effort,” Bundy said, acknowledging a group effort among the occupiers.

Now that an initiative that aims to increase Oregon's high school graduation rate has qualified for the ballot, backers are rolling out details of their campaign.

Earth movers are beginning to move dirt for a better runway at the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport on the Idaho-Washington border. Construction work has begun even though difficult negotiations to acquire needed land under the new runway's approach are not concluded.

Nisqually Refuge Renamed To Honor Billy Frank Jr.

Jul 18, 2016
Jean Takekawa / United States Fish and Wildlife Service

US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will be in Western Washington Tuesday for the renaming of a wildlife refuge near Olympia in honor of one of the region’s best known Native American leaders.

Kyle MacKenzie / FLICKR Creative Commons

A new study from researchers at Oregon State University and Stanford has found that when children engage in energy conservation habits, their parents also adopt those habits.

COASST/Cliff Brown / KUOW

Seabirds have been washing up dead on beaches in Washington and British Columbia this summer. Something is taking a toll on a funny-sounding, peculiar-looking seabird.

Over orchards and vineyards across the Northwest, European starlings are eating fruit to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. And when the traditional methods of keeping the birds away -- like scarecrows, pyrotechnics and netting -- don’t work, it’s time to call Falcon Force.

Gov. Brown Announces Plan To Curb Gun Violence

Jul 15, 2016
Conrad Wilson

Gov. Brown issued an executive order that requires Oregon State Police to maintain a database of firearm transactions for five years after the sale.

She also ordered State Police to notify local law enforcement agencies if a person prohibited from owning a gun tries to buy one.

“Gun violence is terrorizing America, tearing apart the very fabric of our communities and our families.”

Brown, who is running for re-election in November, ordered the Oregon Health Authority to issue gun death reports annually and make policy recommendations.

The police force in Washington’s state capital is changing. Fourteen months ago a white police officer in Olympia shot two African-American brothers. The shooting triggered local protests, but not a national outcry -- the brothers survived, although one was paralyzed.

Oregonians will vote on an initiative that aims to increase the state's high school graduation rate. The Oregon Secretary of State's office announced Thursday that supporters of IP 65 had gathered enough valid signatures for the measure to appear on the November ballot.

Malheur Refuge Occupier Says He Has Gender Dysphoria

Jul 15, 2016

The last holdout at the Malheur National Wildlife Occupation says he has gender dysphoria. Occupier David Fry had previously said he hoped to be reincarnated as a woman.

At a detention hearing this week, a judge asked Fry to explain his comment. The judge also asked Fry about a past escape attempt from a mental health care facility.

In an audio statement made from the Multnomah County Jail after the hearing, Fry explained.