9:47 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Warm Winter Means Buggy Spring In Southern Idaho

Here come the bugs. It was a warm winter in the southern half of Idaho. That means insects are emerging earlier and will have longer breeding seasons.

Jonathan Ross is with Gemtek Pest Control in Boise. He says calls for service are up 40 percent this month over a year ago.

 “And if we look at the last 5 or 6 years it’s really higher than it’s been any of those years.” 

Ross says he’s already getting calls for ants in people’s homes. But he’s especially worried about a possible banner year for flying, stinging insects.

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5:09 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Coal Train Traffic Increase Could Be Bad News For Health

Courtney Flatt

There are now six new export terminals proposed to be built along the Northwest coast. The goal? To bring American coal to Asia, via train and ship.

If these terminals are approved that could mean more than 100 million tons of coal traveling by rail across Idaho, Washington and Oregon every year.

The potential for more train traffic has public health experts concerned. 

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12:18 pm
Wed March 28, 2012

1.2 Million Gallons Of Sewage Spills Into Columbia From Broken B.C. Pipe

A pipe failure on Monday in British Columbia has released an estimated 1.2 million gallons of raw sewage into the Columbia River. Emergency crews from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment stopped the flow yesterday afternoon.

But Washington Department of Ecology spokeswoman Jani Gilbert says once the sewage is in the river, there’s nothing they can do to clear it out.

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10:23 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Court Decides Idaho Property Rights Case On Narrow Grounds

Mike and Chantell Sackett imagine a rustic, three-bedroom A-frame, with views of Priest Lake and the rugged landscape that surrounds it. But the EPA told them in 2007 that because their plot is designated as a wetland, they could face steep fines for building.

The coupled hired engineers who dispute that finding. But they never had a chance to argue that point. In an interview last fall, Chantell Sackett said the case comes down to this exchange with a EPA manager.

"I said, 'So, why would I stop building my house? She said, 'Because we told you to.'"

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
10:05 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Hanford's Work With Robotic Arm Slow At Tank Farms

At the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington, the race is on to clean up radioactive sludge buried in aging underground tanks. Some of that waste has already leaked into the soil not far from the Columbia River.

Attempts to use high-tech robotics to hose out waste tanks haven't gone as planned. And an important federal cleanup deadline is fast approaching. Anna King has visited one of the Hanford tank farms several times to see what’s causing the delays. She shares this first person account.

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4:46 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

North Idaho Couple Celebrates Property Rights Victory

Chantell and Mike Sackett say the EPA violated their right to due process when it said they were building a house on a wetland and ordered them to restore the land.
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

A north Idaho couple is celebrating a major legal victory at the nation's highest court. Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Mike and Chantell Sackett have the right to challenge a decision by federal regulators that their property is a protected wetland. 

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Coal Terminal
1:07 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Review Process Kicks Off For Gateway Pacific Terminal In Bellingham

People lined up in the aisles of the Bellingham high school auditorium to share their concerns and ask questions about the proposed terminal.
Ashley Ahearn/EarthFix

SSA Marine has submitted a permit application to build a bulk export terminal in Bellingham.

If approved, the terminal will be large enough to handle up to 54 million metric tons per year.

That could include wheat and grains but the majority will be coal. It will be delivered by train from mines in Wyoming and Montana – and then shipped out of Washington to Asian markets.

About 100 people gathered outside of Bellingham high school on Tuesday night to protest the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal.

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electric cars
9:40 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Interstate-5: It’s Electric

It’s getting easier to take an electric car on a Northwest road-trip. I-5 is going electric.

There’s a Chevron station just off of I-5 in Central Point, Oregon. You can buy gas there. Its more than $4 a gallon. Or you can plug in an electric car for free, and charge it in about 20 minutes. The Oregon Department of Transportation has just opened 8 stations like this one in Southern Oregon. Neil Appleton lives in Grants Grants pass. He brought his electric Nissan Leaf.

“I’ve had it close to a year. Seven thousand miles and not one drop of gasoline."

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Court Decides On Wolves
10:29 am
Thu March 15, 2012

What's Next For Wolves After Court Decision

BOISE, Idaho -- The wolf hunt in Idaho will continue through June in part of the state. That’s because Wednesday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Congress’s decision to strip federal protection for wolves in Idaho and Montana. Aaron Kunz has reaction to the decision.

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5:56 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Idaho Lawmakers Okay State Control On Gas Developments

BOISE, ID – Idaho lawmakers signed off Wednesday on a plan that limits local control of oil and natural gas development.  But even supporters  say this legislation isn’t perfect.

Idaho Senators debated for nearly an hour on the powers of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.  Under this bill, the agency has final say on where to drill for wells and how to develop the industry.  Democratic Senator Diane Bilyeu from Pocatello hoped to allow local governments to call public hearings on future developments.

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natural gas as a motor fuel
3:50 pm
Fri January 20, 2012

Natural Gas Promoted As Cheaper Fuel For Trucks In NW

Freightliner demonstrated a natural gas fueled semi-tractor. The fuel tank is the tall, rectangular box behind the cab.
Tom Banse/N3

SALEM, Ore. – Natural gas prices are falling and likely to stay low for the coming years. That’s because of the dramatic increase in domestic gas supply from new drilling technologies. Oil prices on the other hand are rising again.

People in this region’s trucking industry are now taking a hard look at switching to natural gas as a motor fuel. But some significant hurdles remain before you’ll see a lot of natural gas-fueled trucks on the road.

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2:33 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

More Toxic Chemical Releases in Idaho Than Oregon and Washington

BOISE, ID – A just-released study from the Environmental Protection Agency shows Idaho far ahead of Oregon and Washington in toxic chemical releases.

Idaho reported a total of 67 million pounds of toxic chemical releases in 2010.  That’s nearly double Washington and Oregon’s combined total of 38 million.   Graham Kirn with the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle says the mining industry is a major source.

Graham Kirn:  “The metal mining releases in Idaho alone are greater than the total releases in the entire state of Washington or the entire state of Oregon.”

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adapting to life in captivity
3:58 pm
Thu December 29, 2011

Hatchery Fish Adapting To Captivity Within One Generation

Ashley Ahearn/EarthFix

If you want to make it in the animal kingdom you’ve got to adapt. Take our canine companions. At one point they were wolves. But over the course of thousands of years they realized that by hanging around people, life got a lot easier.

A new study out today suggests hatchery fish may be taking a lesson from lap dogs when it comes to adapting to life in captivity.

Mark Christie, a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon State University and an author, explains:

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2:54 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Boise Votes To Sell Hammer Flat


Boise’s city council voted unanimously Tuesday to sell Hammer Flat to Idaho’s department of Fish and Game. Each member spoke in favor of the move as the best way to preserve the important winter wildlife habitat. But each councilor also expressed the same reservation.

The issue that gave Boise’s city council pause was recreation. The 700 acre plateau north-east of Boise isn’t just used by deer. It’s popular with hikers, runners, mountain bikers and others. Fish and Game deputy director Jim Unsworth says that won’t change.

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environmental concern is water quality protection
4:04 pm
Fri December 9, 2011

Cleaning Up the Boise River

BOISE, Idaho — In a survey that was conducted for Boise State Public Radio, Idaho Public Television and other public media stations, Northwest residents say their top environmental concern is water quality protection.

Aaron Kunz has more on a river in Idaho, where residents are working to reclaim it from a legacy of pollution.

The survey, conducted by DHM Research, asked what concerned people the most out of ten categories. All three states in the Northwest indicated that water quality is the problem they care about the most.

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4:44 pm
Thu November 3, 2011

Chobani Coming to Twin Falls

BOISE, ID - The New York-based greek yogurt maker Chobani announced its plans to build a multi-milion dollar manufacturing plant in Twin Falls this morning.  StateImpact Idaho Reporter Emilie Ritter Saunders has been following the event and talks to Samantha Wright.

Idaho’s endangered sockeye salmon
8:58 am
Tue September 20, 2011

Idaho Sockeye Count Exceeds Expectations

Aaron Kunz/EarthFix

BOISE, Idaho — This year might not be a record year for Idaho’s endangered sockeye salmon. But biologists with Idaho Fish and Game say the returning adult salmon count is already above expectations for the year. They get an idea of those numbers during the annual “Sockeye Roundup.” Aaron Kunz takes us to the roundup to find out how sockeye are doing.

Two dozen people drag a massive net that stretches across the clear waters of the Salmon River. They are helping round up dozens of red sockeye salmon that can’t make it back to Redfish Lake.

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borders is still a pressing issue
9:04 am
Thu September 8, 2011

Proposed Bill Puts National Security Ahead of Environmental Protection

Van Trump Creek in Mt. Rainier National Park
Ashley Ahearn/EarthFix

10 years after the tragic events of September 11, securing our borders is still a pressing issue for politicians on both sides of the aisle. But for some in Congress, national security and environmental protection can’t coexist.

A new bill introduced by Representative Rob Bishop of Utah would allow unhindered development within 100 miles of an international border or the U.S. coastline, as long as it can be justified as necessary for national security.

(Ashley Ahearn reports.)

(Waterfall fades up)

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