The road to development of the $2 billion Northwest Innovation Works methanol production and export facility at the Port of Kalama just got blocked by the Washington Shorelines Hearings Board, which just invalidated two major permits for the facility. In a decision made last Friday, the SHB came down on the side of environmental groups that oppose the project, determining that the Port of Kalama and Cowlitz County failed to fully evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions from the plant. In the summary judgement that was issued on Friday, the SHB says it’s “troubled” by gas emissions from the facility, without additional evaluation of mitigation measures. They state that the plant will emit more than a million tons of greenhouse gases annually, increasing the state’s overall emissions by one percent, all by itself. Columbia Riverkeeeper, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity are cheering the decision, saying that it validates their previous contentions about the lack of analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from the proposed facility. In a prepared statement, NWIW President Vee Godley that they are evaluating the decision, and they “look forward” to continuing to collaborate with regulators, environmental and business leaders to achieve economic and environmental goals for the state. In its 21-page decision, the SHB states that a 30-day window to appeal the decision to Superior Court is now open.
The unsettled weather put on a show out on the coast yesterday, with tornado warnings and sightings of water spouts reported. A Tornado Warning went up at 4:45 yesterday afternoon, covering parts of Wahkiakum and Pacific counties. In the Ocean Beach School District, a school bus that was headed for Chinook was sent back to the high school, and the scheduled cross-country meet was cancelled. Quarter-sized hail was reported in the Rosburg area shortly after 5 pm yesterday. Early this morning, several thunderstorms were reported along the south Washington and north Oregon coasts, with pea-sized hail, lightning, thunder and at least one-third of an inch of rain. They say that the chance of thunderstorms will continue into this morning, so you’re advised to be prepared for that possibility.
As the rain falls, they’re continuing to release fire crews that have been battling the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge. The fire is still working; it has grown to nearly 48-thousand-665 acres, and is 46 percent contained. About 630 firefighters remain involved in the firefight, down from 967 that were on the line last Sunday. All mandatory evacuation notices have been lifted in Multnomah and Hood River counties, thought a Level 1 “Be Ready” alert remains up in several locations, due to flash flood hazards. I-84 eastbound remains closed between Troutdale and Hood River, and there’s still no timeline as to when it might re-open. The Historic Columbia River Highway also remains closed, and will remain closed for a “long time.” Rain is expected to continue falling off and on in the Gorge through this week, so no significant fire growth is expected.
The Cowlitz PUD has been working for much of the morning on a power outage in South Kelso, an outage that started after a wire failed in the Haussler Road area. PUD officials say that the initial outage was reported at 12:20 am, affecting 350 customers along Haussler. Line crews found the downed line, and discovered that it was still live. They had to take the whole circuit down to safely work on the line, growing the outage to affect 1,300 customers. Repairs were complete by 5 am. They still don’t know the exact cause for the outage.
The Cowlitz PUD Commission has two public hearings scheduled for today, where they will take input on a proposed rate increase. The citizen-staffed Electric Rate Advisory Committee has been studying pending rate increases from the Bonneville Power Administration, and is recommending an increase of 2.5 percent to cover those increased power supply costs. There’s a rate hearing scheduled from noon until 2 pm today in the John Searing Auditorium, and then a second hearing will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Action by the PUD Commission will be taken at a future meeting.
Word is getting out that long-time local radio newsman W. Richard “Dick” Sybert has passed away. It’s reported that Sybert died last Friday at home, at the age of 80. For many years, Sybert wrote and produced news for KEDO and its sister stations, eventually retiring several years ago. He had been dealing with a number of health issues in recent years, passing away in the company of family and friends. Memorial services are pending; arrangements are being made by the Steele Chapel at Longview Memorial Park and Crematory.
Folks from Vernonia and St. Helens are among the 25 Red Cross volunteers from Oregon who are now on the ground in Texas and Florida, assisting in the relief efforts that are going on after the hurricanes that recently devastated those states. The volunteers are working in disaster relief shelters, they’re delivering food and water to affected neighborhoods, and they’re helping to reunify families. The volunteers are helping with emergency financial assistance, while also helping to deliver health and mental health services to storm victims. The Red Cross continues to provide assistance to victims of Harvey and Irma, and you can also help. Go to redcross.org, or you can text 90999 to make an automatic $10 donation.
There’s a special gathering planned for this afternoon and evening at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, an event called “Faith Over Fear: Standing with our Muslim Neighbors.” This is a tour that’s covering the entire state, with Christian and Muslim clergy combining for a program on the “Islamophobia industry,” talking about the divisiveness that this “industry” is promoting. Aneelah Afzali is with the American Muslim Empowerment Network, and Reverend Terry Kyllo is with The Catacomb Churches, a Lutheran and Episcopal congregation in Northwest Washington. Together, they will talk about the “Islamophobia industry” and the damage that it’s doing to the nation; they’ll also talk about how we can all work together to build a future “based on our shared values and vision for America.” Faith Over Fear will run from 3 to 6 pm today at Saint Stephen’s, and anyone interested is invited to attend.
The Mariners begin the final home stand of the season tonight as they host the Texas Rangers, KLOG 6:00 pm. The M’s are four games behind Minnesota for the final playoff spot with 12 games left…..In girls high school soccer yesterday, Kelso defeated Battle Ground 3-1. Tonight, Kelso is at Heritage (7:30 pm), Woodland at R.A. Long (6 pm) and Mark Morris at Black Hills (4 pm)…..In prep volleyball tonight, Union visits Kelso and Woodland at R.A. Long, both at 7 pm…..R.A. Long beat Washougal 161-185 in boys golf yesterday. The Jacks host Ridgefield today at 3:30 pm. Also, Kelso beat Hudson’s Bay 162-inc…..The Kelso cross country teams are at Heritage this afternoon at 4 pm…..In girls swimming, Kelso at Evergreen (4 pm) and RAL and MM at Fort Vancouver (3:30 pm).
Needles and thimbles are needed today at the Salvation Army facility today, as volunteers are needed to help dress dolls for the Salvation Army Christmas Center. This will go from noon until 2 pm today, recruiting sewers, knitters, crafters and those who crochet to help get these dolls ready for the Christmas Center. They’ll also be holding a “Swap Meet,” with yarn, fabrics, notions and other supplies being exchanged and traded. Demonstrations for making head bands, hats, string dollars and doll quilts are planned; admission is free, and you’re invited to help out. The Salvation Army is located at 1639 10th Avenue in Longview; call 360-577-6060 to get more information.
Business owners and human resource specialists are invited to the Port of Longview today for a free “Employer Presentation” from Lower Columbia College Career Services. From noon to 1 pm today, you can find out how to qualify for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, you can learn about on-the-job trainings and internships, find out about proper background checks and screening techniques, and get some clarity about the proper and legal questions that you can put to applicants. Lunch will also be served. For more information, call 360-442-2330
The King Brothers will be “rockin’ and a boppin’” at the Sock Hop set for this evening at the Kelso-Longview Elks Lodge. The Longview Pioneer Lions are putting on this event, which is a benefit for Lions scholarship programs, Camp Leo for diabetic children, and other community projects. The doors will open at 6 pm, and then the Sock Hop will go from 7 until 10 pm. No early admissions will be allowed. Call 360-270-9519 if you need to find out more. The Elks Lodge is at 900 Ash Street, just off of Grade Street, next to the mall.