Author

Alex Baumhardt

Alex Baumhardt

Alex Baumhardt has been a national radio producer focusing on education for American Public Media since 2017. She has reported from the Arctic to the Antarctic for national and international media, and from Minnesota and Oregon for The Washington Post.

A resident in the West Glen neighborhood in Boardman receives information about nitrate contamination from the local public health department in the spring of 2022. After months of discussing plans, the state health department is now rolling out a water testing program.

Oregon Health Authority unveils long-awaited water testing program in Morrow, Umatilla counties

By: - March 23, 2023

The Oregon Health Authority has launched a program to provide free water testing for Morrow and Umatilla county residents who rely on water from potentially contaminated wells. The program, unveiled Wednesday, marks the first testing program by the state in the two counties and follows criticism of the health authority for being slow to respond […]

large chicken operation

Lawmakers consider shrinking proposal to pause new large animal farms

By: - March 22, 2023

Lawmakers have amended a controversial proposal that would have paused new permits for all large animal operations for eight years by trimming it back. A Senate Bill 85 amendment submitted by state Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, would halt new permits only for large chicken operations and limit the permit suspension to two years. Golden said […]

Bipartisan duo unveil $250 million drought package for ‘families, farms and fish’

By: - March 16, 2023

UPDATED: March 17, 2023 at 11:15 a.m. A bipartisan duo from opposite sides of Oregon are proposing a $250 million drought package to tackle water scarcity, drought and water contamination.  Reps. Ken Helm, D-Beaverton, and Mark Owens, R-Crane, hope to stop the state’s next water emergency and ensure water supplies for future generations. Together with […]

DEQ pausing electric vehicle purchase rebates because program is running out of money

By: - March 15, 2023

UPDATED on March 16, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. A cash rebate program rewarding purchasers of electric vehicles is running out of money and will temporarily be suspended after April 30, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced Wednesday. The department advised residents to buy a vehicle by then and apply for a rebate within six […]

School busses arrive at school

Slate of bills address unequal outcomes, opportunities for students with disabilities

By: - March 14, 2023

Four legislative proposals would make it easier for parents to hold schools accountable for violating state and federal civil rights laws, end alternative certifications as a proxy for a diploma and require the state to develop a plan for raising educational outcomes for students with disabilities. They would also grow post-secondary pathways for students with […]

Farmers pack legislative hearing on bill that would halt new large animal operations

By: - March 6, 2023

Dozens of farmers, environmental advocates and representatives from industry packed a legislative hearing to express their opposition or support for a bill that would stop any new, large animal operations from being permitted for eight years.  During nearly two hours on Monday, they testified before the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. Farmers with dozens of […]

Irrigation pivot in a field in Morrow County

Lawmakers want no new water rights permits issued until the state audits Oregon’s water resources

By: - March 3, 2023

Oregon’s water basins are being overdrawn year after year, and a strategy to protect them for future generations is desperately overdue, according to two lawmakers. State Reps. Ken Helm, D-Beaverton, and Mark Owens, R-Crane, say the Oregon Water Resources Department needs to stop issuing new water rights until it can provide data about the flow […]

Gov. Tina Kotek and Xavier Becerra, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at a roundtable on youth mental health

Portland youth tell state, federal leaders they need culturally relevant mental health care

By: - February 27, 2023

Teens, mental health care professionals and crisis-line volunteers told state and federal leaders that youth need access to more culturally relevant mental health care and better communication about what services exist.  Addressing these two issues would go a long way toward combating a youth mental health crisis that has grown in the wake of the […]

A person drinks water from a drinking fountain in Malheur

Small and low-income Oregon communities get millions to address toxic chemicals in drinking water

By: - February 24, 2023

Money approved by Congress will help Oregon’s small and low-income communities test and treat drinking water for toxic chemicals known collectively as PFAS, some of which can cause cancer at even low levels.  Limited testing by the Oregon Health Authority has shown that PFAS contamination in drinking water is not as big of an issue […]

Coal fired power plant

Lawmakers, environmentalists want state pension fund divested of fossil fuels

By: - February 16, 2023

Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups want the Oregon Treasury to divest billions of dollars in fossil fuel holdings from the public employee retirement fund. They say it’s a moral and financial imperative in light of climate change and projections showing declining demand for fossil fuels as renewable energy demand rises. Opponents say it would risk […]

Insider chosen to lead Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

By: - February 10, 2023

Leah Feldon’s stint filing in as director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality was made permanent Friday. The state’s Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously to move her from interim director to the head of the agency over one other final candidate: emergency manager and former Oregon congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner. The five governor-appointed members […]

Bipartisan proposal would ensure students with disabilities get equal class time

By: - February 8, 2023

Some Oregon students with disabilities have been denied access to learning opportunities and class time that is guaranteed under state and federal law, parents say. Several spoke at a meeting of the state Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, and several more submitted written testimony in advance, outlining the lengths they had gone to get their […]