Union Pacific files lawsuit against local agencies, Oregon to consider regulating crude oil trains and the Boardman mega-dairy could face state investigation.
1. Union Pacific suing Wasco County
The Nebraska-based railroad filed a lawsuit against Wasco County and the Columbia River Gorge Commission yesterday, the Oregonian reports. Union Pacific wants a federal judge to throw out the local ruling, which blocked its rail expansion project in Mosier. The project proposes to add a second track alongside the first where a UP crude oil train derailed last June. The railroad argues federal rules should apply, invalidating the local decision.
2. Speaking of railroads, Sen. Courtney proposed a bill to regulate crude oil trains
The Oregon Senate President introduced a bill that would give the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality the ability to regulate rail companies transporting crude oil and hazardous materials, OPB reports. The bill stipulates that rail companies would need to submit plans for state review outlining how they would respond to an oil spill. Rail companies would also need to prove they could pay for clean up and damages if a train derails. These measures stem from the oil train derailment in Mosier last year, which spilled 42,000 gallons of crude oil.
3. Oregon mega-dairy could face state investigation
State and national health and environmental groups are asking the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Quality and Secretary of State to investigate the construction process at Boardman's Lost Valley Ranch, the Statesman Journal reports. The mega-dairy is about 70% completed, but its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit has yet to be issued. The permit is required due to risk of manure discharge into Oregon's waters. The DEQ and ODA are meeting with the petitioners this week.
4. ICYMI, it snowed in Portland
The Portland region awoke to 6-12 inches of snow, with levels even higher in the Gorge and Central Oregon. The winter storm — which has now beat out February 2014's Snowpocalypse in terms of accumulation — continues today, OPB reports. Expect 2-4 more inches in Portland.
5. OSU wave center asks for $4.6 million
The state may be facing a $1.4 billion deficit, but coastal legislators are asking for $4.6 million to help fund the Pacific Marine Energy Center test site in Newport, the Portland Business Journal reports. Oregon State University received federal funding to the tune of $40 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, but needs to supply 20% in matching funds.
6. Venture capital slowdown
It's not news that Oregon is experiencing a tech boom. But venture capital investments are down — the lowest since 2010, the Oregonian reports. This entrepreneurial slowdown could be blamed on the tech boom itself. As companies continue to expand, entrepreneurs who might have gone out on their own in the past are instead choosing to stay on board.
7. Facebook security contractor switch results in job losses
One of Prineville's biggest job providers is making a change. Facebook — which built two data centers with a third on the way in Prineville — announced its security contractor is changing next month. As a result, at least 85 employees will be laid off, the Bend Bulletin reports. That's about 40% of the total data center workforce. The new contractor, G4S Secure Solutions, says employees are welcome to re-apply for their jobs.
8. Port of Portland Executive Director is stepping down
Bill Wyatt announced his retirement today. Wyatt will officially retire from the Port of Portland's top job June 30. He has served as executive director for 17 years.