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Environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement Friday reinstating rules meant to protect salmon and steelhead from insecticides.
Federal environmental agencies announced Thursday they may reject Oregon's approach to keeping coastal waterways clean.
Federal environmental agencies announced Thursday they may reject Oregon’s approach to keeping coastal waterways clean.
Three environmental groups will make the case in court Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to act on their petition to the agency to ban a common pesticide used on many Northwest crops.
An environmental group is calling for a major expansion in habitat protection for Puget Sound's killer whales.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is asking federal agencies to study the environmental impacts of coal exports from the West Coast.
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On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of two Idaho landowners who sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding a plot of land they hope to build on. But the decision doesn't mean that the couple, Mike and Chantell Sackett, will be able to start building. The dispute started back in 2007 when the EPA informed the Sacketts they could not build on their recently purchased plot because the property was designated as a wetland. The Supreme Court case wasn't about whether the Sacketts could build on the land. Instead, it was about whether they could dispute the land's classification as a wetland. According to the Sacketts, their property doesn't count as a wetland. The court unanimously ruled that the Sacketts, and other property owners, can challenge the EPA over compliance orders as soon as those orders are issued. That still leaves a long road ahead for the Sacketts, who will now take part in a legal battle over the designation of their property as a wetland.
Representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were in West Salem this week to meet with residents who are concerned about a possible "cancer cluster" in their community. There have been five documented cases of a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer — osteosarcoma — in young people within a two mile area. State and federal officials are not ready to classify this as a cancer cluster, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as a "greater-than-expected number of cases." But the parents who signed the petition asking the EPA to investigate possible causes aren't concerned about numbers. They're thinking about the children who have already died from this disease and the teenager who is still struggling to recover from it.
In 2010, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that runoff from logging roads can be considered water pollution and that loggers need to get permits for those roads under the Clean Water Act. Then the real wrangling began. The ruling was appealed to the Supreme court. Congress delayed implementation of the requirement. And this past May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it won't require Clean Water Act permits for logging roads. The Supreme Court is expected to announce whether or not it will take up this question within the next week, but there's a good chance it will decline; the Obama Administration's Solicitor General, which the court asked for guidance, argued that this could be addressed "more definitively and in a more nuanced fashion" by Congress and the EPA.
A recently released University of Massachusetts study ranked the Portland-based Precision Castparts Corporation as the most toxic air polluter in the U.S. The company manufactures cast metal parts at 150 plants throughout the world, including several in Oregon, and is one of two Fortune 500 companies based in Oregon. The high toxicity of Precision’s pollution is largely the result of heavy metal pollutants, in particular, chromium, cobalt and nickel. The list — compiled by economics professor Michael Ash using Environmental Protection Agency data — accounts for the volume and toxicity of pollution at all company plants across the country, as well as the health risks to the surrounding populations. Ash said of chromium, cobalt and nickel, “Those three together represent 99 percent of the estimated risk to human health.” The company is currently evaluating the findings of the list. Ash said that emission levels at Precision’s plants are likely within legal EPA-set limits.
Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have agreed to a compromise to avoid the so-called "nuclear option" of limiting the filibuster. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has long advocated changing the filibuster so the minority party doesn't have as much power to prevent votes. The agreement allows Democrats to move forward with several executive appointees with a simple 51-vote majority. The appointees include President Obama's nominees to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as his pick for secretary of labor. Senator Merkley called the agreement "a milestone." We'll hear more from Sen. Merkley on what the compromise means.
A new study of drinking water in 35 US cities released recently by the advocacy organization, Environmental Working Group, claimed 31 cities have water with detectable levels of the carcinogen, chromium-6 (hexavalent chromium). That chemical got considerable public attention after the 2000 film, Erin Brockovich. Bend is one of the cities EWG claims as having water with detectable levels of chromium-6. Bend officials say the water the EWG sampled for its tests came from a private utility that supplies water to some Bend residents. Justin Finestone, communications manager for the city of Bend, questions EWG's approach. He says, "The EPA has a specific testing method for chromium and EWG didn't use that. People don't know these things and they panic." Soon after the report was released, the Environmental Protection Agency released this statement from Administrator Lisa Jackson. Jackson promised the agency is studying the issue. The EPA is in the middle of its own study looking at whether it needs to set a maximum level for hexavalent chromium in tap water. Currently, EPA requires all water systems to test for "total chromium" content, not just chromium-6. The EPA's website says its total chromium standard is 0.1 mg/L (100 parts per billion) and that their latest data show no U.S. utilities are in violation of the standard. Studies like this one can understandably raise public concern. But it's a fine line between communicating potential public health risks and causing panic. Regarding this EWG study, Dr. George Gray, a toxicologist at George Washington University, says he'd hope that "people stop and ask questions about studies like this: how big is the risk, how does it compare to others around me, is this one worth worrying about? Is it worth changing my behavior?"
Last month, New York Sen. Charles Schumer sent a letter to Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking for a reversal on the mandate to cover New York City's reservoir. The project would cost $1.6 billion. In a letter (pdf) sent Aug. 19, Jackson told Schumer that her agency would conduct a review and reconsider its directive. Oregon is under the same mandate by the EPA to cover its own reservoirs in Washington Park, Mount Tabor and other areas. The project is slated to cost $400 million, which is part of the reason for a proposed 85 percent water rate hike in the city. Will the EPA's review in New York carry over to Portland? City officials are lobbying Congress for answers.
Salmon is sacred to some tribes. It’s a vital business to commercial fisherman. It’s a wildlife management issue for government agencies, a fish in need of protection to environmentalists, and an infinitely complex species to scientists. All these groups have an interest in seeing a healthy population of salmon but what's the best way to accomplish that goal? Most salmon eaten today comes from hatcheries. Is hatchery fishing a good thing or not? Proponents, including several native tribes, say hatcheries help strengthen the salmon population. But some scientists and environmentalists argue that hatcheries breed a kind of "super salmon" that behaves differently from wild salmon and actually threatens the wild fish. Early efforts to improve salmon run by changing logging practices underscored some of the complexities of tampering with nature. How will hatcheries be viewed in 20 years time?