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.

Yakima Valley Emergency Management Office

If a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit Washington state, people in the central and eastern parts of the state would not be the hardest hit, but survival would not be a walk in the park either. That’s why emergency organizers east of the Cascade Mountains are preparing to handle that kind of disaster. 

Planes and parachutes might be the best bet for getting supplies to cut-off areas in the event of a subduction zone earthquake. National Guard pilots and paratroopers practiced supply drops and parachute jumps Thursday.

Edward Kimmel / Flickr

Washington U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell is pushing for stricter rules on oil trains after last week's fiery derailment in Mosier, Oregon.

Robert Ashworth / Flickr

It’s been ten years in the making, but the Spokane tribe has won approval from Governor Inslee for its Casino in Airway Heights. The tribe says it will be an economic boon that will bring thousands of new jobs, but not all are happy with the announcement.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has announced a visit with the Spokane Indian Tribe Thursday. The visit comes as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has signed off on a plan that includes a casino.

A bill that makes sweeping changes to Oregon's oversight of foster care providers takes effect next month. The reforms were proposed after numerous media reports of abuse and neglect at several foster care providers.

U.S. Geological Survey / Flickr

The oil train spill in Mosier, Oregon was the latest of about 20 oil train derailments in the U.S. since 2013.That's according to the group Earth Justice. One Washington lawmaker says there's one way to limit the danger of derailments or oil spills in this state: build an oil pipeline.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

Audio Pending...

Some people might not think of sock monkeys as a piece of art. But a new show featuring all different textiles -- including sock monkeys -- wants to change your mind. The exhibition features a type of art known as surface design. All that’s needed is some type of fiber, and a surface to transform. The rest is up to the imagination.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants oil trains to slow down and safety improvements to speed up. Inslee said Wednesday that he personally delivered that message to the CEO of Union Pacific and the executive chairman of BNSF over the last 48 hours.

Following Friday’s derailment in the Columbia Gorge, environmental groups are petitioning the Obama administration to ban rail transport of the most flammable kind of crude oil. And Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday that it was clear that Oregon got lucky -- this time.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

Residents of Mosier, Oregon were told Sunday night they can return to their homes.

An oil train that derailed and caught fire forced more than 100 to evacuate last week. Just over 400 people live in the sleepy town surrounded by cherry orchards and basalt cliffs.

Conrad Wilson / Oregon Public Broadcasting

Officials with Union Pacific says its findings are preliminary.

Several Northwest tribes including the Umatilla in northeast Oregon and the Yakama in central Washington state are in Washington D.C. this week. They’re asking for the passage of one more law to help rebury the remains known as "Kennewick Man" or the "Ancient One."

Friday’s oil train derailment and fire comes as Washington state prepares to put new oil shipment safety rules into effect. In fact, the derailment in the Columbia Gorge happened just as the first public hearing on those rules was wrapping up in Vancouver, Washington.

"I have positive feelings about Donald Trump as a candidate."

Gil Bellamy of Salem said he wasn’t holding his nose as he made a bid Saturday to represent Oregon at the Republican national convention this summer in Cleveland—where most Oregon delegates will have been pre-assigned to Trump.

Beekeepers Feel The Sting Of Stolen Hives

Jun 6, 2016

Between December and March, beekeepers send millions of hives to California to pollinate almond trees. Not all of the hives make it back home.

"The number of beehive thefts is increasing," explains Jay Freeman, a detective with the Butte County Sheriff's Office.

In California, 1,734 hives were stolen during peak almond pollination season in 2016. In Butte County alone, the number of stolen hives jumped from 200 in 2015 to 400 this year, according to Freeman.

Washington Department of Ecology / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Crews worked through the weekend to offload oil from tanker cars and remove damaged train cars by flatbed trucks following Friday’s train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge. The water treatment and sewer system in Mosier was damaged as a result of the accident.

Dr. Ron Hardy, University of Idaho Aquaculture Research Institute / Northwest News Network

They’re billed as vegan rainbow trout, but their new menu, developed by the University of Idaho’s Director of Aquaculture Research, Ron Hardy includes a little fish oil. So more accurately, you might call these fish pescatarians.

Black smoke billowed high into the sky above Interstate 84 Friday afternoon after 11 oil train cars derailed near Mosier, Oregon. At least one of the derailed cars spilled oil and caught fire.

The oil train fire in the Columbia Gorge is the first one since Oregon lawmakers approved funding for a hazardous materials incidents plan last year.

Oil Train Derails Near Hood River

Jun 3, 2016
Silas Bleakley via AP

Eleven oil train cars derailed Friday afternoon near Hood River, sparking a large fire and forcing a nearby school to evacuate.

Early this winter, skiers in the Northwest were excited. But then after about Christmas things turned dour. The once-epic snowpack is now long gone. In Washington state, it melted down in record time to less than half of average for early June.

And there hasn’t been much rain this spring either. The Cascades, Olympics and Blues are all hurting.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

At first glance, cheatgrass looks innocuous. A dry, golden-white grass, its seeds hang down from bent stalks – seeds with sharp barbs known to harm pets. The invasive weed isn’t just a threat to cats and dogs: Cheatgrass is taking over rangelands across the West, covering vast swathes of land in dense, dry vegetation.

Courtney Flatt

More than 100 people showed up today  in Pasco to a final public hearing for a proposed coal export terminal. And most of them supported it.  

David Gillihan works at Millennium Bulk Terminals. He echoed one of the main reasons people voiced support of the terminal: jobs.

“All of you with your lofty ideals, those who oppose us, deny us the opportunity to make a good living doing what we want,” Gillihan said.

Office of the Governor / Flickr

 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown released a plan Thursday on how she'd use money from a potential corporate tax increase. The increase would come from a ballot initiative if voters approve it this fall.

Brown didn’t say she supports it. But in her plan she said she wants to create a fund to pay for career and technical high school education. She'd also expand a tax credit for low income families and offer tax breaks to companies that keep jobs in Oregon despite having to pay the tax.

Immigrant Advocates Work To Fight ‘Notary Fraud’

Jun 2, 2016
Courtney Flatt

Becoming a U.S. citizen can be tough. There are mounds of paperwork to fill out and file, which can be confusing if you’re trying to figure it out on your own. 

Matt Brown

Washington state officials are holding a public hearing Friday in Vancouver on new rules targeting oil train safety.

One proposed rule would require trains carrying refined or crude oil to submit spill response plans that the state would approve.

Another proposed rule would make oil terminals and refineries alert the state that they plan to receive crude oil. Right now, companies that move oil by rail aren’t required to share that information with state officials.

Tony Webster / Flickr

The state Department of Ecology has released an updated rule to cap carbon pollution in Washington. In an effort to tackle climate change, it requires the state’s largest industrial polluters to reduce their emissions gradually.

The disclosure of the presence of lead in the drinking water at several public schools in Portland could have statewide implications. But it's not yet clear what the state will do.

Rob Manning

  Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith met families at Creston School on Tuesday night because the district’s bungled lead response was worst there. Smith announced a three-part plan to the unfolding water debacle.

She wants to form a community task force on drinking water and hire two sets of outside investigators – one for recent, and one for longer-term lead problems.

But Smith immediately faced tough questions at Tuesday's meeting. School board member Steve Buel objected to her supervising the investigations.

In Paris Monday, an auction of 400 artifacts included a pair of leggings that could have been worn by a woman from the Nez Perce Tribe of northern Idaho in the 1890s. Questions about whether many of the items had been acquired legally nearly halted the auction.

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