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.

Texting or holding a phone to your ear while driving is already illegal in Washington state. But starting Sunday, Washington state troopers and local police will begin enforcing a toughened law against distracted driving.

The U.S. Department of Energy rolled out several options at a public meeting Thursday night to stabilize what’s known as Tunnel 2 at the Hanford nuclear reservation in southeast Washington. Stabilizing the tunnel became a priority after nearby Tunnel 1 was found partially collapsed this spring.

Tunnel 2 is filled with highly-radioactive equipment leftover from a plutonium plant, and the feds say it's also in danger of collapse.

At the meeting, they presented a raft of ideas to stabilize it:

Coal and oil trains pass through Spokane daily, but that could change by the end of the year. Spokane’s city council will take public testimony Monday on a proposed ballot initiative that would prohibit coal and oil shipment by rail through specific areas of the city.



The sewage system is crumbling in Carbonado, Washington, near Mt. Rainier. And if Washington lawmakers fail to pass a capital construction budget before they adjourn Thursday, a plan to replace it—and many other projects around the state—will be put on hold.

Wilson Ring / Associated Press

It’s been more than a decade since White-Nose Syndrome began ravaging bat populations across the East Coast. Now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given out more than a million dollars in grants to 37 states, to monitor and study the fungal disease.

Washington state’s department of Fish and Wildlife will kill members of a wolf pack that is causing problems for livestock in Stevens County.



Federal and state agencies are investigating a string of wildfires in southeastern Oregon with a potential link to military training exercises.

Seven small fires ignited across state and federal lands on July 11, all attributed to human activity — a suspicious pattern that indicates they could be connected, according to federal officials.

Photo credit: Wikimedia user Jay8g / Wikimedia Commons

 

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says lawmakers have reached an impasse over a contentious water rights issue. That means the state may not have a capital construction budget for the first time in memory. 

The statewide unemployment rate for Washington is holding at its record low in the latest jobs report out Wednesday. The state's Employment Security Department pegged the jobless rate in June at 4.5 percent, the same as in May.


Sharks Sighted On Oregon Coast (Calm Down, It’s Normal)

Jul 19, 2017
Orin Blomberg / Flickr

Cannon Beach Police advised beach goers this week of shark dorsal fin sightings in the Cannon Beach area. They also announced state parks would be posting warning signs on local beaches.

The final scramble is on to see the total eclipse on Aug. 21 in the Northwest. Most hotels and campgrounds in the path of totality are booked.

But for those willing to do some research, or pay handsomely, there are still eclipse adventures to be had.

Last year, developmentally disabled residents in Washington state institutions choked to death, were sexually assaulted and nearly drowned. That’s according to a report being released Wednesday by Disability Rights Washington.

Oregon Fuel Spill Spreads To Wildlife Area Groundwater

Jul 19, 2017
Rick Bowmer / Associated Press

 


Officials have discovered a large fuel spill in Oregon’s Willamette Valley has contaminated the groundwater at a nearby wildlife area.

MAX Double Homicide Suspect: 'No Heroes In This Case'

Jul 18, 2017
Multnomah County Sheriff's Office / Associated Press

A Portland man accused of killing two men and injuring a third on a TriMet MAX train this spring appeared in court Tuesday morning.

When you were younger, do you remember there being a piano store in your neighborhood or at the mall? There are many fewer piano dealers today than there used to be. Those who weren't done in by cheaper electronic keyboards or the last recession are changing their tunes to stay in the money.

An archaeologist from Eugene has just returned from an expedition to an uninhabited South Pacific island with new clues about the possible fate of Amelia Earhart. The pioneer aviator and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared 80 years ago—creating an enduring mystery and fascination.

Portland Train Stabbing Defendant To Appear In Court

Jul 18, 2017
Stephanie Yao Long / Associated Press

 

Jeremy Christian has been charged with fatally stabbing two men on a MAX train on May 26, on the eve of Ramadan.

Timothy J. Gonzalez / Associated Press

 

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson is making a key change to the state’s initiative system that could make it easier to qualify for the ballot.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez said Monday that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray should consider stepping down after new revelations about the sex abuse allegations against him.

Amy Radil / KUOW

A child protection investigator in Oregon concluded in 1984 that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray had abused a boy in his care. 

In documents made public by The Seattle Times, the investigator said the future mayor of Seattle should never be a foster parent again.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wrapped up his weekend tour of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon on Sunday.

Among others, he met with a pro-monument group of conservationists, landowners and local elected officials, and with Oregon governor Kate Brown.

A Richland, Washington, flower shop owner who was on the losing end of a same-sex wedding discrimination case now wants to piggyback on an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court argument.

Spokane could become the next in a growing list of Northwest cities including Seattle, Portland and Bend, Oregon, to commit to a climate change agreement President Trump opted out of this spring.

Time is running out for Washington lawmakers to pass a capital construction budget. Less than one week remains in the state’s third overtime session of the legislature.

Workshop Set For Injured Hispanic Workers In Yakima

Jul 14, 2017

An activist plans to hold a workshop in the Yakima Valley Saturday for injured workers who are Hispanic. It’s part of an effort to make sure more Spanish-speaking workers benefit from state services. 

Oregon’s attorney general is threatening to sue the Trump administration if it tries to change the boundaries of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The Department of Interior is currently reviewing the status and size of national monuments across the country.

In his final days in office, President Obama invoked the Antiquities Act to expand Southern Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by nearly 50,000 acres. The region is considered a bio-diversity hotspot in the West.

A new film based on an award-winning novel by a Portland author is playing across the country this summer. It’s star hails from Yakima, Washington.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryane Zinke announced Thursday that the Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington and Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho won’t lose their federal designation.

First it was Georgia. Then Montana. Now the national political spotlight is falling on Washington state and a special election later this year. But unlike those earlier contests, this one isn’t to fill a seat in Congress.

It’s for the state legislature.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Tense moments on Washington’s Capitol Campus as reports of a possible active shooter led to a lockdown. The incident happened Wednesday. 

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