Top Northwest Sustainability Headlines

May 22, 2015

Shell's Polar Pioneer oil rig, incoming to Seattle Port's Terminal 5.

Shell's Polar Pioneer oil rig, incoming to Seattle Port's Terminal 5. (Photo by a friend of Sightline, used with permission.)

1. Enticing Arctic oil patch is slippery game of risk

Shell Oil is only part of the great race for this prize. Russia is militarizing its part of the Arctic for this reason. Canada intends to secure its claims, too, also to benefit from sea lanes that will become possible thanks to an Arctic Ocean freed from ice by global warming.

The Seattle Times | Oil | Tweet This

2. WA water crisis likely to worsen

The drought conditions in Washington that prompted Gov. Jay Inslee last week to declare an emergency are likely to grow worse because of a strengthening El Niño tropical weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean, a weather researcher for Washington State University says.

The Associated Press | Drought | Tweet This

3. WA hires conflict specialist to deal with wolf issues

The state of Washington has hired an internationally known wildlife-conflict specialist to help defuse tensions over the state’s expanding wolf population.

The Spokesman-Review | Wolves | Tweet This

4. Calm urged as Olympia investigates police shootings

Police and public officials urged civility while promising a thorough and unbiased investigation into Thursday’s early-morning shooting of two African-American shoplifting suspects by a white police officer.

The Seattle Times | Justice | Tweet This

5. Seattle looks to become hub for smart building tech

The city of Seattle has long been known for rainy weather, giving birth to grunge music, and its corporate headquarters for tech giants. Now the city also wants to become known as a leading hub for smart, energy-efficiency buildings.

City Lab | Green Building | Tweet This

6. Setback for Shell’s proposed rail yard in Anacortes

Shell Oil has lost its challenge of a hearing examiner’s ruling that there must be a full environmental study on its proposed Anacortes rail yard.

The Seattle Times | Oil | Tweet This

7. Views: Vancouver port officials should resign

The CEO’s and commissioners’ disregard for the public they’re sworn to serve has gone too far, says The Columbian.

Vancouver Columbian | Politics | Tweet This

8. Port of Portland pushed to kill carbon fee

Even as community opposition mushroomed to a proposed propane export terminal in North Portland, the Port of Portland was negotiating to save its Canadian backers millions of dollars annually. It hoped to do so by convincing the City of Portland to eliminate an annual $6.2 million carbon fee proposed for the terminal and its backer, Pembina Pipeline Corp.

The Oregonian | Propane Terminal | Tweet This

9. Whistleblower videos reveal helicopter spraying workers

A helicopter circled overhead, spraying a fine mist of toxic weed killers. Darryl Ivy took refuge inside his pickup: Windows up, doors shut. The scene was captured on camera, one of more than 200 videos Ivy recorded on his smartphone. Again and again, herbicides rained down. The milky chemical mix stained Ivy’s windshield white and turned his phlegm red. Ivy, a truck driver, spent 17 days this spring on a spray crew in Douglas County, the heart of Oregon’s timber country. Troubled by what he saw, Ivy documented his working conditions day after day. He recently provided hours of time-stamped clips and hundreds of photographs to The Oregonian/OregonLive.  

The Oregonian | Pesticides | Tweet This

10. ‘Stable’ Antarctic ice sheet may have started collapsing

A vast slab of Antarctic ice that was previously stable may have started to collapse, according to new analysis of satellite data.

The Guardian | Climate Change | Tweet This

More News from May 22, 2015

Seattle, Portland ranked for energy efficiency

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released the second edition of its “City Energy Efficiency Scorecard” this week. In addition to the rankings, which give Seattle and Portland high marks, the report offers strategies cities can implement to cut down on energy waste.

Next City | Energy efficiency | Tweet This

CIA shutters secretive climate research program

A CIA spokesperson confirmed to Climate Desk that the agency is shuttering its main climate research program. Under the program, known as Medea, the CIA had allowed civilian scientists to access classified data—such as ocean temperature and tidal readings gathered by Navy submarines and topography data collected by spy satellites—in an effort to glean insights about how global warming could create security threats around the world. In theory, the program benefited both sides: Scientists could study environmental data that was much higher-resolution than they would normally have access to, and the CIA received research insights about climate-related threats.

Climate Desk | Climate Change | Tweet This

May showers bring giant worms

Spring showers appear to have brought out the rare giant Palouse earthworm, a creature native to the Palouse Prairie that can grow up to a meter long. Earthworm enthusiast Cass Davis of Moscow found three specimens of what he believes to be the giant earthworm last weekend.

The Associated Press | Wildlife | Tweet This

Alaska’s popular walrus cam is back

A popular webcam showing large male Pacific walruses lying on the beach with a Hitchcockian number of seabirds flying overhead is once again streaming to the Internet. The high-definition stream from Alaska’s remote Round Island had been dormant for nearly a decade after private funding ran out.

The Associated Press | Wildlife | Tweet This

Environmentalists call on TimberWest to suspend logging

Environmental groups are asking TimberWest to freeze its logging operations in the region until planning is complete and are urging the BC government to ensure no new cutting permits are approved until new stricter logging regulations are in place.

Vancouver Sun | Logging | Tweet This

BC may consider government-backed credit for seniors

The BC government is willing to consider offering a government-backed homeowners’ line of credit for house-rich, cash-poor seniors to help them live in their homes longer.

Vancouver Sun | Housing | Tweet This

California drought turns eyes to Oregon

The agriculture industry in California is in the midst of its worst drought in decades and that may inadvertently be having a positive impact on Oregon. It’s caused some growers to look north.  One Oregon crop that is being affected is hazelnuts, which are drawing record sales and prices.

Jefferson Public Radio | Drought | Tweet This

Protesters to move barge after damaging dive site

Protesters of Arctic drilling have run afoul of the ocean environment in their own small way. In addition to assembling a flotilla of kayaks on Seattle’s Elliott Bay last weekend, the activists brought in a construction barge. It’s a solar-powered platform for protests against Shell Oil’s plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean. But the protesters anchored their solar barge over one of Seattle’s most popular sites for scuba diving.

KUOW | oil drilling | Tweet This

What’s the most bike-friendly city in the US?

Wanna know how bike-friendly your city is, for real? The brainiacs at Walk Score got your back. These are the folks who have spent years easing the pain of finding an apartment on Craigslist by figuring out how walkable our neighborhoods are. In 2012, they launched Bike Score, a rating system is driven by real live data — and not just the miles of bike lanes painted on the streets, unlike some of the more subjective ratings you’ll find bouncing around the interwebs.

Grist | Transportation | Tweet This