pollution

Govenor Jay Inslee unveiled his transportation plan Tuesday. His $12 billion proposal calls for a list of safety fixes. The fixes include old bridges that are at risk of becoming structurally deficient. The package also includes nearly $6 billion for new construction projects. To help pay for them, Inslee is proposing to charge the state’s major polluters.

U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers / Northwest News Network

In Eastern Washington, an epic swim hole and university party spot on public land was just closed down. This past weekend, nearly 2,000 people mobbed the spot. The horde littered the place known as “The Dunes” with trash, adult-beverage containers and … well, other leavings. 

Kristen Steele / Flickr

For months now, Washington Republicans have been predicting that Governor Jay Inslee will use his executive powers to enact something called a low-carbon fuel standard. Inslee acknowledges he’s looking at ways to do this without legislative approval. Either way he thinks Washington is poised to move forward.

Cassandra Profita / EarthFix

Students around the Northwest go to school every day in portable classrooms. These classrooms are an affordable solution to budget-strapped districts that need more space. But they can be bad for student health and performance. That’s why some districts are moving away from portable classrooms.

One district in Spokane has found a solution.

Courtney Flatt brings us part 2 of our special series "Inside the Box."

Katie Campbell / EarthFix

Thousands of students in Washington and Oregon go to school in what are known as “portable classrooms."

These temporary structures were a quick solution to the problem of growing population and lack of funding for school facilities in parts of the Northwest.

But many of these “temporary” structures are still around. They’re not environmentally friendly or healthy places for students to learn.

Dori / Wikimedia

Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants the state to adopt a market-based system for reducing carbon emissions. The Democrat signed a nine-page executive order on carbon pollution reduction. Among other things, the order creates a 21-member task force to come up with a cap and market program before the end of the year.

punditmom.com

Pollution in Asia can influence weather over much of the world. Those are the findings from a new climate study from northwest researchers, who teamed up with researchers from Texas.

Galina Mikhalishina / Creative Commons

Regulators have approved an air pollution permit for a proposed biomass power plant in Lakeview, Oregon. Some residents have questioned the permit because the town is already struggling with pollution from wood stoves.

New advisories from health officials in Washington and Oregon warn that some fish in the Columbia River aren’t safe to eat.

Jessica Robinson

A river basin cleanup in north Idaho is showing just how difficult it is to remove long-term pollution from Northwest waterways. This month, the EPA is running tests on layers of muck from the bottom of the Coeur d'Alene River. It’s downstream from a federal superfund site.

Tom Banse

This week, technicians in southeast Washington continue a field test to show how carbon dioxide could be injected and trapped deep underground. It's an experiment led by the Pacific Northwest National Lab. Injection of fifty tanker truck loads of CO2 will take about four weeks. Then comes about a year and a half of monitoring to see if the global warming gas stays locked away forever beneath ancient lava flows.

Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

The proposed clean up plan for the Duwamish River super fund site in Seattle is open for final public comment. The 305 million dollar plan would tackle 100 years of industrial pollution that have lead to high levels of contamination in the river. Ashley Ahearn reports the EPA is asking the public to weigh in.

Shell Oil had to postpone its Arctic drilling for a full year after one of its oil rigs ran aground off the Alaska coast this winter. But Shell’s efforts to open a new frontier of oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean continue in Puget Sound. The oil giant passed a key test with federal regulators last month in the waters off Anacortes, Washington. KUOW’s John Ryan reports.

American Rivers has named three Northwest streams among the most endangered in the United States this year. Two are remote creeks in Southwest Oregon. The conservation group says exploration for nickel could harm the creeks. Amelia Templeton reports.

Lamont Granquist

The debate over exporting Wyoming and Montana coal through terminals on the Northwest coast has been heating up in recent months. Those who support exporting coal say the terminals will create thousands of jobs and tax revenue for the state. Opponents of coal exports have raised concerns about the potential environmental and health impacts of coal. Some of them are taking matters into their own hands. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Moving 'Heirloom Chemicals' Out Of Farmers' Fields

Mar 26, 2013
Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

Year after year many pesticides farmers use expire or are banned. Often these chemicals pile up in barns and storage sheds until farmers can find a safe way to dispose of them. EarthFix reporter Courtney Flatt visited a pesticide collection center in Wenatchee to find out what exactly happens to the chemicals.

Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

There are several hundred derelict and abandoned vessels dotting the waterways of Washington and Oregon. They can block navigation and pollute the environment. And they can also be very expensive to remove.

Bills to fund the clean up and prevention of derelict vessels have now been passed in the Washington house and senate, but Ashley Ahearn reports, no permanent sources of funding for large vessel removal have been identified.

Yakima Dairies Agree to Reduce Nitrate Contamination

Mar 7, 2013

Four Eastern Washington dairies have agreed to reduce pollution that’s been contaminating drinking water. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

How Much Fish You Eat Determines Water Quality In Idaho

Jan 31, 2013

How much fish do you eat every week? That’s a question Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality wants to answer. As Samantha Wright reports, the agency has asked state lawmakers for funding to study that question.

A small engineering firm in Seattle says it has developed a system to capture carbon dioxide going up power plant smokestacks and convert it to methanol. The solvent is also known as wood alcohol and as an Indy race car fuel.

Brett Scott is chief counsel for Emission Resource Group. He says having a viable method to refine CO2 into methanol could make it worthwhile for fossil fuel burners to capture the greenhouse gas.

Canadian Smelter Found Liable for U.S. Pollution

Dec 17, 2012

A federal judge Friday found a Canadian smelter responsible for the millions of tons of pollutants it dumped into the Columbia River. Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Cleaning Up Legacy Mines, One at a Time

Nov 5, 2012

The Pacific Northwest is scattered with thousands of abandoned mines. Most have been abandoned for more than 50 years. But hard metals are still leaching out from some sites. Things like arsenic and lead. The U.S. Forest Service is working to clean up these mines. One-by-one. Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt visited one of Washington’s abandoned mining cities.

Puget Sound Ports Curb Emissions

Oct 31, 2012
Photo Credit: Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons

Air pollution from the major shipping ports in Puget Sound has decreased, according to a new report released Tuesday.

Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

40 years ago Thursday, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to reduce pollution in America’s waterways. Even four decades later, hundreds of towns across the Northwest are failing to meet clean water standards for their wastewater treatment plants. For most, that means costly upgrades and higher fees for households and businesses. The southern Idaho town of Burley is no exception. EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains.

Photo courtesy Teck Resources, Ltd.

A case involving cross border pollution of the Columbia River rests in the hands of a federal judge today. A Native American tribe and the state of Washington have sued to hold a Canadian mining giant responsible for smelter waste that washed downriver from British Columbia into Washington. Correspondent Tom Banse reports on the latest go-around in U.S. District Court in Yakima.

kootenayvolcano / Flickr

Wednesday, a federal judge in Yakima will consider a long-running case about cross border pollution in the Columbia River. The Colville Tribes and the state of Washington are trying to force cleanup of heavy metals dumped in the river for nearly a hundred years by a Canadian smelter.

Michael Werner / Earthfix.

Oregon Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio tried to add an amendment requiring a study of the impacts of transporting coal by rail to the coal bill which passed the U.S. House of Representatives Friday. The Republican majority blocked the amendment.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

When the Clean Water Act was created 40 years ago rivers were on fire and raw sewage was spilling into some waterways. The Act has accomplished a lot over the years - reining in the largest industrial polluters and improving water quality, overall.

But there are some emerging contaminants the Clean Water Act was never designed to control, and they are affecting the environment in new and different ways. Ashley Ahearn has the latest installment in our ongoing EarthFix series “Clean Water: The Next Act."

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

Water pollution doesn't just come from industrial pipes. It can also come from your prescription drugs or antibacterial soap. As part of our series on the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Cassandra Profita reports on the everyday pollutants that are emerging in waterways across the Northwest.You can find more about prescription drugs entering Northwest waters on our website nwpr.org and (hear how unregulated toxins may be affecting fish in the Northwest.

Photo by Dcoetzee / Wikimedia Commons

A new report released Thursday brings together the best data on the environmental health of Puget Sound. Ashley Ahearn reports.

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