Environment and Planning

Environment and Planning

Dan Jenkins, ODFW

Oregon's Congressional members are working on a plan that would dramatically increase logging on some federally-owned forest land in the southwest corner of the state. A House panel advanced a measure Wednesday that would allow increased timber harvests in struggling timber counties.

The bill is relatively small in scope -- it only applies to a couple of million acres of land formerly owned by a railroad company in southwest Oregon. But supporters say it's the trigger those communities need to break away from decades of economic decline.


Federal officials are trying to figure out what to do about radioactive materials that remain at a place near the Columbia River known as the 300 Area. It’s the subject of a series of public meetings that kick off this week.

The 300 Area was where workers milled uranium rods and tested ways to process plutonium during WWII and the Cold War. They poured about 2 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste a day into sandy ponds and trenches right next to the Columbia River. Cleaning up buildings and material there has kept crews busy for 20 years.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

A group of farmers in southeast Washington is trying to stop the federal government from giving endangered species protection to a rare plant. It’s called the White Bluffs bladderpod. And it grows on a narrow ribbon of federal land and farms.

A farmer group is using genetic tests to claim that the plant is not as rare as it seems.

Mongo/ Wikimedia

The presence of wolves may mean hunters can't count on finding elk in favorite hunting spots, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are fewer elk. That was the message from wildlife managers in three Northwest states Thursday in an online public meeting.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife asked managers from Montana and Idaho to dish out some advice from their experience trying to find a balance among prey like deer and elk, wolves, and hunters.

Imperial Oil

Oil companies still may find a way to move huge, so-called “megaloads” through a scenic corridor in Idaho, once traveled by Lewis and Clark. But for now at least, opponents of the extra-large shipments are hoping government red tape has closed that option.

Part of the appeal of this route to Alberta’s oil sands is that barges can take the huge equipment a portion of the way up the Columbia River. But the Forest Service, at the prompting of a federal judge, is now exerting its authority over the next leg of the trip – through a Wild and Scenic corridor across Idaho’s midsection.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation say crews have cleaned up 15 million tons of radioactive soil and debris from near the Columbia River. It’s gone to a massive dump at the center of the site.

In central Hanford, a ceremonial load of soil marked 15 million tons of waste disposed of at the 52-football-field-sized dump called ERDF. Dozens of truck horns blared in response.

The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to pay $136,000 in fines for allegedly mishandling waste left over from plutonium production at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The penalty comes from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Department of Energy doesn’t agree with EPA's findings.

US Department of Energy

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the disclosure of a worsening leak at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is "the most disturbing news."

The U.S. Department of Energy Friday said an underground tank that holds some of the nation's most troublesome radioactive waste may be leaking into the soil. An Oregon official said the development adds "urgency" to the long-running Hanford cleanup. 

US Department of Energy

Ernest Moniz, the new secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy visits Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington on Wednesday. Among the issues he will have to deal with are the leaking underground tanks of radioactive waste and the troubled waste treatment plant.

From his resume, it appears Moniz isn’t short on brainpower. He’s been on the faculty of MIT since 1973. Secretary Moniz received a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in physics from Boston College and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Stanford University.

US Department of Energy

The federal government says in a new report that it may take six years to start emptying a leaking double-hulled tank of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Washington state law says any leaks must be dealt with as soon as possible – but the federal government’s soon as possible is maybe years away. That’s because it could take 18 months just to get and set up equipment to pump sludge from the leaking double-hulled tank called AY-102. In addition it will take about six years to secure appropriate tank space to put all that sludge.