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Northwest

Next month, contractors will start removing two massive dams on the Elwha River which runs through Washington’s Olympic peninsula. It is expected to bring about the largest single increase of salmon habitat and population in the Northwest.

The dam removal caps efforts started more than 20 years ago by a local tribe and visionary activists with support from Earthjustice. The dams once provided power for a paper and pulp mill, but other sources will now provide the power.

The long and winding saga of the Roadless Rule, adopted in the Clinton administration after an exhaustive public process, just took a new turn, though it smacks of desperation.

To recap, the Roadless Rule was put in place to protect 58.5 million acres of undeveloped and otherwise unprotected land on the national forests. The rule has been subject of nine lawsuits. An appeals court in Denver has yet to rule on a lawsuit out of Wyoming; the others have concluded with the Roadless Rule still standing.

At a formal ceremony in Centralia, Washington, today, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed legislation which will phase-out the massive 1,400 megawatt TransAlta plant between 2020 and 2025.

Under the agreement, Canadian-based TransAlta, will provide $30 million to be invested in direct economic development and energy efficiency in the Centralia community, and an additional $25 million to be invested in clean energy technology development in Washington.

How should America's 190 million acres of national forest be managed?  Nine Republican congressmen, led by Rep. Stevan Pearce of New Mexico, have the answer in a bill introduced last month:  Forests are for logging. And to hell with everything else.

The bill, H.R. 1202, is short and not-so-sweet. The meat of the bill is a single sentence: 

(This is the first in a series of Q & As with Earthjustice staff who work to protect our nation's forests and their critical natural resources and wildlife. The Obama administration's recently proposed planning rule for our national forests may leave our waters and wildlife in peril. Kristen Boyles is a staff attorney in Earthjustice's Northwest office in Seattle.)

Residents of Longview, Wash., can exhale a sigh of relief today, secure in the knowledge that their health will not be jeopardized by a coal shipping terminal. Australian-based Ambre Energy and its subsidiary Millennium Bulk Logistics announced this week that the companies are withdrawing a permit application to construct a coal export facility in Longview on the shores of the Columbia River.

On Feb. 8, a federal judge in Washington State sided with conservationists, energy efficiency boosters and the state's building code council, upholding new standards for energy conservation in new home construction. The homebuilders’ association had challenged the new standards, which went into effect this past Jan. 1, claiming they were in conflict with federal law.

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