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.

Boardman is best known to thousands of people for its roadside attraction: a sprawling tree farm along Interstate 84. Acres of poplar trees sprouted in orderly rows along the highway running through Eastern Oregon.

Now, most of those plantation trees have been cut down, the land sold. Part of it will soon become Oregon’s second-largest dairy. Lost Valley Farms just received a key permit at the end of March. Its owners say the dairy should be up and running in a few weeks.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is leaning on the state's public college and universities to curb tuition increases.

Bedbugs have been wreaking havoc in the Northwest for more than 10,000 years. The oldest fossilized evidence of the parasitic insects has been discovered in a cave in southern Oregon.

It’s taken five years, but injured railroad worker Dwight Hauck sees victory at hand. Washington lawmakers are on the verge of requiring new safety standards for private transport companies that shuttle rail crews between trains. 


On March 23, 2011, union railroader Hauck nearly lost his life. He was the lone survivor of a crash in a rail yard in Kelso, Washington. 


“I don’t remember anything at all,” Hauck said. 

 


Tuesday the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission scolded the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant. The NRC said the Columbia Generating Station in southeast Washington improperly packaged, mis-labeled and shipped too-hot radioactive waste.

Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson wants to restore ballot access to some Oregonians whose voter status has been changed to "inactive."

From the BelleWood Acres farmhouse in Washington's Whatcom County, you can see piles of apple crates and rows of trees that stretch for acres. This is the biggest apple orchard west of the Cascades.

“Spring time’s magical in the orchard,” says John Belisle, who owns the orchard with his wife, Dorie.

“There’s bees everywhere,” Dorie agrees. “The orchards hum with their working.”

People who legally buy marijuana in Oregon would enjoy a greater level of privacy under a measure headed for Gov. Kate Brown’s desk. The Oregon House Monday approved a bill that would stop cannabis retailers from recording personal information such as a customer's name, age or address.

In at least 20 state capitols across the country this year, the wireless industry is pushing legislation to streamline local permitting for the next generation of cellular technology.

In Washington state, that's putting the industry on a collision course with cities and towns.

Instead of soaring towers with antennas on top, future cell sites will adorn power poles and streetlights.

Earthquake Warning System Expands Pilot

Apr 10, 2017
Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

Washington state is one step closer to an earthquake warning system. “ShakeAlert” can warn about an earthquake between a few seconds to a couple minutes before it happens. 

Time is running out for Washington lawmakers to negotiate a state budget that complies with a Supreme Court ruling to fully fund schools.

Northwest Public Radio's Anna King was featured on All Things Considered Sunday, as part of their NPR Poetry series. Her poem is titled "Walla Walla Road." 

Walla Walla Road

Onion peel butterflies unfurl their wings.

Flit past my panes

as blacktop slips west.

King, who reports from central Washington, was inspired while driving.

Oregon Chief Justice Calls For End To ICE Courthouse Arrests

Apr 10, 2017
Bradley W. Parks / OPB

Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Balmer said Thursday that actions by federal immigration officers have been a "strong deterrent" for some individuals trying to access the criminal justice system.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Rado

Northwest rivers are running high as all that winter snowpack melts into spring runoff. That means the region is producing too much of a good thing: carbon-free, renewable energy in the form of both dam-generated hydropower along with electricity from spinning wind-farm turbines.

April is the traditional start of the whitewater rafting season. The hefty snowpack in the mountains this year is good news for commercial rafting companies and recreational enthusiasts across the West.

Matt Rourke / AP Images

Washington state, California and Montana legislators are moving quickly on state privacy protections to forbid broadband service providers such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from selling your personal browsing data without your permission.

Lobbyists in Oregon would have to publicly disclose their positions on bills they're trying to influence under a measure approved by the state House Thursday.

http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=2200&Year=2017

Lawmakers in Washington state, California and potentially Oregon are moving quickly to reimpose internet privacy rules repealed by Congress. President Donald Trump on Monday signed off on rolling back regulations that would have forbidden broadband service providers such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from selling your personal browsing data without your permission.

Liz Jonres / KUOW Photo

As the Trump Administration approaches 100 days in office, immigration enforcement remains at the forefront. Washington's top lawyer says police departments, schools, and even hospitals are confused about how to interact with Federal immigration officials. That's why Attorney General Bob Ferguson has released a 50-page guide that lays out best practices and policies.

Opponents Aim To Block State Funding For Methanol Plant

Apr 6, 2017

Opponents of a methanol refinery proposed on the Columbia River say Washington is poised to spend $12 million in public funds to help build the controversial plant.

They sent a letter to Washington lawmakers Thursday asking them to block that spending because it would pay for a dock and a road needed by methanol project developer Northwest Innovation Works.

Returning an ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man to the earth was a private affair. After decades of legal battling, a couple hundred people gathered in the early-morning chill of February for the burial.

Using Whale Breath To Find Out What's Ailing Orcas

Apr 6, 2017

Scientists have a new tool to figure out what’s ailing Puget Sound’s resident orcas. They’re studying whale breath, which is no easy feat.

“We had petri dishes that were mounted on an extendable pole,” explains Linda Rhodes, with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. “We had to position the boat close enough to the whale so that when it surfaced and exhaled we would be able to pass the petri dishes through the plume.”

As advocates for medical marijuana gather in Washington, D.C., on Friday for an annual conference, supporters of marijuana legalization are worried.

That's because new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been making tough comments about the drug, and there's a lot of uncertainty about how the Trump administration will enforce federal law.

Over his 20 years in the U.S. Senate, Jeff Sessions made no secret of his disdain for marijuana. In his new job as the nation's top federal law enforcement officer, his position on marijuana has not moderated.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

The Oregon Senate approved two bills today that would protect victims of sex trafficking from criminal convictions related to their own exploitation.

If you have trouble getting a good night's sleep, it could be in your DNA. A team led by Washington State University-Spokane researchers has discovered a gene that influences the quality of sleep across species.

Oregon politicians aren't allowed to hold duels. It says so in the state constitution. But one state lawmaker Wednesday made his case for ending that ban.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., held the Senate floor overnight with a 15-and-a-half-hour speech opposing the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Oregon lawmaker yielded the Senate floor at 7:13 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday after giving what his staff said was one of the 10 longest speeches in Senate history.

“We can rise above the situation in which we have put ourselves, the situation in which one team for the first time in U.S. history has stolen a Supreme Court seat," a visibly tired Merkley said shortly before ending his speech.

After years of resistance, Washington and Oregon lawmakers are finally acknowledging they have to accept stricter federal driver’s license security standards. Both states appear to be settling on having two kinds of licenses.

Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Four conservation groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in an effort to limit the federal government’s use of deadly cyanide traps.

The Oregon House narrowly voted Tuesday to ban most no-cause evictions and to allow cities to pass local rent control ordinances.

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