Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat from the Seattle offices of KPLU Public Radio News, where she has worked since 1999. She holds a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006 mid-career during her stint on KPLU’s Business and Labor Beat from 2000-2012.

From 1989-98 she lived in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a bi-lingual producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 for a project on theater studies and communist history. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. (Yes, she is fluent in German.)

She strives to tell memorable stories about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Character-driven narratives of exploration and innovation excite her. 

Outside work, she practices and instructs yoga, walks half marathons with friends, backpacks with her husband and extended family, reads and watches fiction with nieces, enjoys tasting new foods and admiring all kinds of animals -- especially her two house cats, who often remind her she should spend more time sitting on the couch with them.

Ways to Connect

Tim Durkan Photography

Enjoy the weather this Thanksgiving weekend. High pressure above us has set up in a stable pattern that will stick around until Monday, keeping rain away until sometime Tuesday. 

"No precipitation (guaranteed), sunny, with little clouds ... a tonic against Seasonal Affective Disorder," says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Expect clear skies and cooler temps, with highs in the mid-40s and lows down into the 20s or even the teens in western Washington. There might be some fog in a few places and there is a possibility of some air quality issues, as smog builds up.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Microsoft is helping to preserve forests at the foot of Mount Rainier by investing in the potential of trees and restored forests to soak up carbon pollution. The value of absorbed greenhouse gas emissions will be set through California's cap-and-trade exchange and the income used to grow the asset, through new plantings and road removals.

Waugsberg / Wikimedia Creative Commons

Imagine what your Thanksgiving table would look like without any food that is pollinated by bees.  

It’s a challenge issued by the group Environment Washington, which is highlighting the issue with a campaign called “No Bees, No Food.”

Canvassers for the group say if bees die off, then turkey, rolls and potatoes are all  that would be left on the table. Dairy products would be endangered. And you can forget about vegetables or traditional pies.

Elaine Thompson / AP

The holiday season might be just getting underway, but a major cold snap is already here. Ski areas are opening across the region and forecasts are calling for the possibly of lowland snow early next week. Specifically, lowland snow in some areas on Tuesday morning.

But whether that will actually come to pass is still a big question.

“I wouldn’t be the house on it,” says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, “But I would be prepared, either way.”  

Ben Brooks / Flickr

Washington state’s worst-ever wildfire season took center stage once again in Washington, D.C.

Two local fire officials testified before the U.S. Senate’s Energy & Natural Resources Committee Tuesday, appealing to lawmakers for more funding for fire suppression and preparedness.

Gordon Werner via Creative Commons / Flickr

King County has signed into law a climate action plan that many local environmentalists are applauding as one of the boldest in the United States. How communities will meet their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a big question, as representatives get ready for the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris next month.

Bridget Coila via Creative Commons / Flickr

Bonding with a new baby could soon become less financially stressful for King County's more than 14,000 employees.

The county is considering an expansion of its paid parental leave program – allowing its employees up to 12 weeks away from the office after the birth or adoption of a child. 

Right now, new parents who work for King County can cobble together paid leave from accrued sick pay and vacation time to be with their babies.

sea turtle / Flickr via Compfight

Keep that rain gear handy and if you live near a river, watch out for more high water. An extraordinarily long current of moisture known as an “atmospheric river” has been aimed at the Northwest, delivering rain, wind and flooding. And there’s more to come.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s not the typical "Pineapple Express" we often see at this time of year.

An Extraordinary Constellation

Stevens Pass Mountain Resort

Workers at Stevens Pass Mountain Resort made snow angels and played in the white stuff as Mother Nature added nearly 5 inches to the ski area Tuesday night. With more on the way this week, they’re hoping to be open before Thanksgiving this year.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Even if you don’t like getting your feet wet, the recent heavy rains are still something to celebrate.

Over the past two weeks, there has been so much coming down that the water supply is almost back to normal in all three of the Puget Sound’s major cities.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The University of Washington held its first annual symposium on environmental law last week. The idea is to choose a topic and examine how it fits into current and future regulations. This year’s focus—ocean acidification. 

Morgen Bell / Flickr via Compfight

Another wet weekend is in store as a more normal pattern of November weather has returned to the Northwest, with cooler temperatures and persistent storms coming through every few days, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass. There is even the likelihood of a reasonably good ski season this year.

Susan Walsh / AP

Seattle voters are the first in the country to approve a new form of public campaign financing.

Backers of Initiative 122 say it is a local solution to the national problem of big money in politics. The city’s taxpayers will fund so-called “democracy vouchers” that all registered voters can use to support Seattle candidates who agree to take part. 

Daniel X. O'Neil via Creative Commons

Despite strong leads for all of the incumbents in Seattle’s city council races, the new council will be younger and more diverse than the current one. That’s one likely effect of the new district elections. 

Women will make up the majority of Seattle’s new city council; and it will have two Latinas, one of whom is also Native American.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Kids packed a courtroom in Seattle on Tuesday to hear oral arguments in a case about their future. Eight young teenagers are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state Department of Ecology. They want to force action on climate change.

“It just feels like there’s not enough people who care about, like, animals and other things that can’t talk for themselves – babies who haven’t been born yet, people from the future, basically,” said 13-year-old Lara Fain.

Oregon Department of Transportation

For many people, solar power is out of reach, because it is too expensive or because they don’t have a good place to put panels.  But there is a new option for residents in Tacoma.

Tacoma Power is launching a community venture for customers who want to invest in solar energy without buying their own equipment.

Elaine Thompson / KPLU

The “sizzle factor” is low in this off-year election, which is why local officials say they are only expecting about a 46 percent return once all the votes are tallied. Nonetheless, they are urging people to get their ballots in by Tuesday’s deadline.

Ted S. Warren / AP

It has been 25 years since the federal government passed the Pollution Prevention Act. The 1990 law is credited with reducing industrial waste by as much as 60 percent since it was enacted, by getting companies and governments to look upstream at what goes into the manufacturing process and stopping pollution at the source.

Morgen Bell / Flickr via Compfight

Keep your parkas handy or maybe an umbrella if you’re trick-or-treating this weekend. The forecast is full of rain — very heavy rain in places, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“It’s going to be really wet,” he said. “It’s pretty scary if you’re going to go hiking or go up into the mountains,” so you might want to rethink such plans.  

Mass says a series of “very wet systems” is coming in off the Pacific Ocean, and there’s “a tremendous amount of moisture behind it.”

Three Waves Of Wet Stuff

Vladimir / Flickr via Compfight

A small non-profit in the San Juan Islands has taken the lead in an international campaign to protect the Salish Sea from adverse effects of shipping.

Currently, proposals for 14 new or upgraded export facilities for fossil fuels in British Columbia and five in northwestern Washington could dramatically increase shipping traffic through local waters.

Emersb via Creative Commons

Voters in Snohomish County are choosing their next executive. It is a race between two well-known Democrats with contrasting styles.

The state's third-largest county has never elected a Republican to its highest office. But the decisive factor in this contest may end up being which candidate can attract the most the votes from Snohomish County’s Republicans. 

Tim Durkan Photography

Enjoy the, mild fall weather this weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, because there is going to be a big shift to wetter and cooler weather in the days ahead.

“You can expect the precipitation to turn on in a big way during the next week to two weeks,” Mass said, explaining that computer models show that the typical switch from sunny and warm autumn days, to damper and cooler weather is upon us.

He expects that transition sometime next week. So if you’re a hiker, Mass says this weekend is one you will want to enjoy.

David Nogueras / KPLU

Seattle voters are getting ready to choose who will represent their district. Seven district seats will be decided, as well at two at large positions. KPLU’s election series, Back On The Block, revisits issues affecting each district and introduces us to the candidates.

Reese Semanko via AP

Local environmentalists are celebrating the Obama administration’s announcement that it is canceling upcoming auctions for drilling rights in the Arctic’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.

The Interior Department also announced it has denied requests for extensions of Arctic leases currently held by Shell and Statoil.

Tim Durkan Photography

If outdoor plans are in store for you this weekend, you’ll want to keep the rain gear handy and maybe an extra layer as well.

Friday will be the last 70 degree day for a long time, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, as a rainy pattern returns to the Northwest.

He says it’s been amazingly warm for mid-October. Highs hit 70 on Thursday and they’re expected to do so again on Friday.

“That’s ten degrees above normal,” said Mass, who teaches Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Elaine Thomson / AP Photo

It has been about a year and a half since the tragic mudslide in Oso that killed 43 people.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell saw the site of the slide for the first time on Thursday. She was home in the Northwest highlighting the need for more disaster preparedness. 

Christopher Pluta via Pixabay

Some residents in the higher hills of Seattle and Issaquah experienced tropical weather overnight, with warm, moist air pushing temperatures up as high as 70 degrees by Friday morning.

Everyone else was in the 50s, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.

JPellgen / Flickr

Facing pressure from federal regulators, Governor Jay Inslee has directed state officials to take another stab at updating clean water rules, tied partly to how much fish people eat.

Ted S. Warren / AP

More than 150 groups in Washington state have come together to form the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy. It’s an effort to fight climate change that some are calling “historic in scope.” The consortium has announced plans to put a statewide carbon-capping initiative before voters in 2016. 

Šarūnas Burdulis via Wikimedia Commons

The predicted effects of global climate change are grim, to say the least. Global warming is expected to cause more extreme weather events, as well as a rise in sea level, drought and flooding; it’s not a pretty picture.

But, according to weather blogger and KPLU commentator Cliff Mass, it won’t actually be that bad here in the Northwest.