Environment

Judge Redden Talks Salmon Case

Apr 25, 2012
Aaron Kunz / Earthfix

A federal judge who has ruled for more than a decade on how to save Columbia and Snake River salmon says four dams on the Lower Snake River should be torn down.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Three high school students from Boise did something an Idahoan hasn’t done in about thirty years.  They won what’s called the U.S. Presidential Environmental Youth Award.  Their successful project helped restore a part of the Boise River. 

Timberline High School juniors Carl Breidenbach, William D’Onofrio, and Nathan Wong teamed up on the restoration project in Southeast Boise.  Inspiration came from a popular summer activity.  "When we were floating the river with Nathan, we noticed that people were just trampling the beach. The vegetation had been decimated," says Breidenbach.

CRITFC / Northwest News Network

A coalition of tribal groups says sea lions are eating far more salmon along the Columbia River than previously thought. The claim comes in a legal fight over whether wildlife officials should be killing some of the hungry sea lions.

A federal judge has authorized wildlife officials in Oregon and Washington to kill as many as 30 California sea lions each year near the Bonneville Dam. Four have been killed so far this spring. A conservation group has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the killings.

American Kestrel Partnership / The Peregrine Fund

It’s nesting time for many birds in Idaho, including the American Kestrel.  In fact, you can watch a pair of kestrels sitting on their eggs right now, through a live webcam.  It’s part of a new project by the Peregrine Fund that launches today to get people involved in helping gather information n kestrels.  The goal is to help scientists understand why the American Kestrel is in steady decline across North America.

Columbia Generating Station Southeast Washington
NRC.gov

The utility Energy Northwest is launching a new TV ad campaign to improve the image of nuclear power. But  the ads touting nuclear energy as green might be a tough sell.

Energy Northwest operates the only commercial nuclear power plant in the region. It’s called the Columbia Generating Station in Richland.  The company’s new ad ends this way: "Nuclear energy. Reliable. Affordable. Environmentally responsible."

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

Sheep grazing along trails is a rite of spring in the Boise foothills, so are the White Great Pyrenees dogs that protect them. 

Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission spokesman Steve Stuebner says it's important to keep pets leashed up to avoid a confrontation with the guard dogs.   "And then if you’re on a mountain bike and you come up to the sheep, it’s a good idea to dismount from your bike and get off your bike and walk through the sheep."

Group: Idaho Unprepared for Climate Change

Apr 19, 2012

An environmental group has rated each state’s strategy for dealing with climate change. Problems can range from droughts to rising sea levels.  Two of the Pacific Northwest states are well prepared. Idaho is not. 

Both Washington and Oregon have strategies to deal with water problems that could arise from climate change. The Natural Resource Defense Council says nine states – including Washington and Oregon – are “well prepared.”

Idaho, though, is on the bottom half of the list. Ben Chou is a water quality analyst with the Council. He says Idaho is “largely unprepared.”

Two-Headed Trout Leads to Scrutiny of Mine Pollution

Apr 19, 2012
J.R. Simplot/Idaho DEQ

Here’s an image you usually don’t see without the help of Photoshop: two-headed fish.  Pictures of deformed baby trout with two heads show up in a study of creeks in a remote part of southeast Idaho.  The study examined the effects of a contaminant called selenium.  It comes from a nearby mine owned by the Boise-based agribusiness giant, J.R. Simplot.  Critics say the two-headed trout have implications beyond a couple of Idaho creeks. 

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Neighbors of a proposed nuclear power plant in Payette County have filed a complaint against it in district court.  They say the plant is part of a stock scheme, and that Payette County has played a role in this complicated case. 

The suit accuses Alternate Energy Holdings of manipulating its stock price as part of a fraud scheme.  It says the company has never had any revenues, never shown a profit, and never built anything.  It also blames Payette County officials for joining in the scheme.

Tim Melbourne / CWU

A prototype earthquake early warning system worked as designed when an actual quake gently shook California last Friday. Researchers reported the results Tuesday at the annual meeting of American seismologists.

Last year, a private foundation in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey gave a multimillion dollar grant to create an automated earthquake warning system for the Pacific Coast states. The idea is to provide advance notice to prepare people for severe shaking. It could come via a cell phone alert or a pop-up on your computer or TV screen.

Report: Chinese Companies Consider Vestas Takeover

Apr 18, 2012
Vestas

A prominent wind energy company – with North American headquarters in the Pacific Northwest – may be acquired by a rival Chinese corporation.

A Danish newspaper is reporting that two Chinese companies are considering takeover bids for Vestas Wind Systems. The Danish firm’s North American headquarters are based in Portland.

Vestas has faced financial trouble over the past year. The company’s chairman and chief financial officer resigned in February.

Sinovel Wind Group and Goldwind Science and Technology are the top two wind turbine manufacturing companies in China.

A couple from Twisp, Wash., has accepted a plea deal in a wolf poaching case. Under the agreement with federal prosecutors, Tom White and his wife will not face jail time.

White, his father, and his wife Erin were indicted last year in a conspiracy to kill some of the handful of grey wolves that live in eastern Washington. Police discovered the poaching scheme in late 2008 when the family tried to send a wolf pelt to a tanner in Canada. A business owner in Omak, Wash., reported the FedEx package was bleeding.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

The company that wants to build a nuclear power plant in Payette County faces a new complaint. A group of property owners who have land near the proposed site for the plant filed a complaint in district court Monday against Alternate Energy Holdings and Payette County.  The complaint says AEHI has never had any revenues, never shown a profit, and never built anything.  It says AEHI used Payette County as part of a scheme to fraudulently promote its stock and boost its stock price. 

OSU Special Collections & Archives

Federal water and dam managers are draining reservoirs in the Columbia and Snake River basins to get ready for "big water" coursing down river. In recent weeks, the Army Corps of Engineers has called for bigger draw-downs -- or as the agency calls it "drafting" -- to protect against flooding. Supervisory engineer Peter Brooks says more room is needed to catch runoff from the bountiful snows of March.

Idaho National Laboratory

A small fire at the Idaho National Laboratory flared up Monday afternoon on the roof of a building at the lab’s Materials and Fuels Complex.  The fire was put out with no injuries.  INL spokesman Ethan Huffman believes welding work sparked the blaze. "The particular building that had the fire involved in it did not house radioactive materials.  It housed standard offices, conference rooms, the cafeteria."  Huffman says there is no danger or risk to the public.  He characterizes it as a minor fire. 

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio

CompassioninWorldFarming / Flickr

A new market survey finds many of the region's farmers in an optimistic mood because demand is strong and commodity prices are high. Exceptions to the overall trend include dairy and onion farmers.

The region's largest farm lender and crop insurance provider describes the ag economy as mostly bullish. Northwest Farm Credit Services vice president Michael Stolp says robust global demand supports the positive outlook.  "During the economic recession, agriculture was one of the bright spots and continues to be one of the bright spots."

Energy Efficient Controls Cut Costs For Building Owners

Apr 16, 2012

New research has found that commercial building owners can chop their heating and cooling costs nearly in half by implementing a few energy efficient controls.

Broad Diet Helps Barred Owls Thrive

Apr 16, 2012
tlindenbaum / Flickr

Researchers say they have learned why invasive barred owls are thriving while native spotted owl populations are slowly disappearing.

The barred owl and the spotted owl are like a pair of siblings. They’re closely related species, and they compete over everything. They compete over the best trees to roost in. And for the best food source too, juicy flying squirrels. But barred owls are less picky. And that gives them an edge. David Weins tracked both species in the Oregon coast range.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Occupy Portland activists took to the road this weekend. About 100 protesters showed up in sunny downtown Richland, Washington Sunday afternoon. They were there to rally against nuclear power and in favor of cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

On a large stage Native Americans and Occupy coordinators like Mirium German voiced their concerns.  “Hanford is an environmental tragedy waiting to happen,” German said.

More Electric Cars Could Mean More Power Demand

Apr 13, 2012
Rain Rabbit / Flickr

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council says more electric cars on the roads will use more power in the future.   The agency is increasing its previous estimates of how much power plug-in cars will need by 2030. The Council says high gas prices and better technology could drive up electric car sales. That means drivers will need more power to plug in their vehicles.

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