Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp joined the staff of KPLU as a general assignment reporter in 1999 and covered the business and labor beat for more than a decade. She now covers the environment beat. She was raised in Seattle, but spent 8 years in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989. She holds a Bachelors degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT and a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006.

Bellamy's most memorable KPLU radio moment: “Seeing the INS open a shipping container at the Port of Seattle that contained stowaways from China, three of whom died en route of seasickness. Harrowing stuff, with global economics and inequity at its root.”

Ways To Connect

By Stephanie Bower / Courtesy Seattle City Light

As interest in solar power gains momentum, Seattle City Light is marketing a new program to make it more widely available. 

Community Solar gives people who can’t install solar panels on their own homes the chance to reap the rewards of a cash investment in solar power.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

From carousels to picnic shelters and libraries, solar power is becoming more commonplace in Seattle.

City Light says it has seen big growth in customer demand for alternative energy over the past decade – and small solar is one of the biggest draws. 

The new 520 bridge across Lake Washington got a big green light yesterday, as federal officials approved the state’s plan to put in a six-lane replacement.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

At a rally in downtown Seattle late this afternoon roughly 60 protesters marched on city hall to show their opposition to the waterfront tunnel scheduled to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The protestors carried a 25-foot replica of what they said represented the “monster tunnel that eats money.”

A smaller group of tunnel supporters also showed up with props to argue that killing the tunnel would cause too much congestion.

Courtesy of San Juan Islands National Conservation Area

The San Juan Islands are known for pristine natural beauty that includes a national wildlife refuge and several remote state parks.  

But they also contain about 1,000 acres of federally owned land that has been largely forgotten by authorities. Some islanders fear it might be sold off to developers.

The King County Council postponed a decision on a two-year, $20 car tab fee to maintain Metro bus service until August 15th in an attempt to pass the measure without it having to go before voters.

Advocates for social justice, economic development and environmental protection packed council chambers for the hearing. Nearly all testified in favor of the council enacting the fee.

Allie Gerlach / Flickr

The City council has confirmed a commitment to spend $3 million dollars from the sale of a property along Aurora Avenue north, known as the “Rubble Yard.”

The one-time boost increases the city’s street repair budget by about 33% for the year. Declining tax revenues have taken a bite out of money available for backlogged road repair projects.

druid labs / Flickr

The staff of the SeattlePI.com is moving out of the waterfront building with the iconic spinning globe on its top. It's unclear what will happen to the globe, but at least one Seattle organization is interested in taking control of it.

Hundreds of new laws become effective in Washington state today - more than 300 in all.

The new laws cover everything from medical marijuana, human trafficking and DUIs to the counting of overseas ballots and foreclosure fairness.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Starting tomorrow, struggling homeowners in Washington have new rights. 

The Foreclosure Fairness Act signed into law in April is designed to prevent unnecessary foreclosures primarily by requiring banks to take part in mediation if borrowers ask for it and doubling the number of housing counselors.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Seattle residents and businesses have hit an all-time high for recycling rates. And from the front yard of a model recycling family in Seattle, Mayor Mike McGinn gave the city a pat on the back:

“53 percent – an all-time high– 53 percent of the waste produced in the city of Seattle is taken out of the waste-stream and recycled,” McGinn said.

Photo courtesy Washington State Dept of Health

If you see an unusually low-flying helicopter cruising above Seattle or Bellevue, don't worry. It’s just a project of the State Department of Health to measure naturally occurring radiation in King and Pierce Counties.

Brianna / Flickr

The weather for the 4th of July this year is looking pretty good, with scattered clouds in the forecast and highs in the low seventies.  

That’s actually pretty typical, says Carl Carniglia with the national weather service in Seattle.  He looked back at local statistics from the late 1800s to the present and found the historical data contradicts the cliché of rainy weather for Independence day.

Piero Sierra / Flickr

Here comes that day that cats and dogs really hate, but most American humans love!

Yes, it’s time for burning, smoking and exploding devices used for celebrating the Fourth of July. It is also time for the many reminders and warnings about what fireworks you can use, how dangerous they are and where you can or can’t use them (should you really feel like you have to).

Associated Press

A new plan released yesterday for saving the northern spotted owl is taking aim – maybe literally – at a rival bird.

Federal agency leaders said Thursday the spotted owl is losing out to a bigger, more aggressive invader from the eastern United States, the barred owl.

However, one biologist whose research led to the listing of the spotted owl believes shooting and other measures to control the barred owl are too little too late.  Because, he lamented, the spotted owl's population has shrunk over the last 15 years in spite of conservation efforts. (Interactive map inside)

Photo by Jim Thrailkill / USFWS

It’s an icon of the northwest.

With its muted brown feathers and dark eyes, the northern spotted owl doesn’t look all that impressive. But scientists say its survival indicates the health of the entire forest ecosystem. That’s why conservationists want the government to protect more of the old-growth habitat spotted owls prefer.

But a recovery plan for the owl due for release this morning is ruffing feathers.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

Last week, Boeing opened a new plant in South Carolina, where it's putting the second assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner.

That’s led to a fight between the aerospace giant and the National Labor Relations Board. The nation’s top enforcer of labor laws filed a complaint against Boeing in April. Proceedings in the case begin Tuesday in Seattle. 

The NLRB alleges Boeing built the second assembly line for the Dreamliner in South Carolina as retaliation for past strikes by the Machinists union in Washington state.  And that, it says, is against the law.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

They’re known as ghost nets – old tangles of synthetic lines snagged on underwater rocks or reefs and left behind by fishermen as long as seventy years ago.   

A coalition out of Mount Vernon has removed thousands of them over the past decade.  There’s still work to be done, but they’re running out of funding. 

Since 2002, The Northwest Straights Initiative has removed nearly four thousand derelict fishing nets from shallow waters of Puget Sound. 

“Because they just don’t degrade. They can get torn apart by wave action, but they won’t degrade," says Northwest Straits Initiative Director, Ginny Broadhurst.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

(Updated at 11:49 a.m. with new photos)

This morning I’ll be up early, heading to Sandy Point Marina, near Bellingham, for a short field trip with the non-profit Northwest Straits.  They’re a non-partisan group that’s been removing derelict fishing gear from the waters of the region for the past decade. 

Associated Press

The Machinists Union says it's surprised and disappointed to hear of plans by Congress to hold a hearing next week over the federal labor lawsuit against Boeing. 

The National Labor Relations Board has filed suit against the aerospace giant claiming the company moved manufacturing facilities to South Carolina to avoid unionized workers.  A hearing on that issue starts Tuesday morning in Seattle.  Now the NLRB's attorney is being summoned to a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government later in the week.

Cheuk-man Kong / Flikr

Amazon.com has been thriving, despite the economic downturn. Shares in the company are now worth more than five times a much as they were five years ago, thanks in part to innovations such as its electronic book reader, the Kindle, or its move into data storage of all kinds of things "in the cloud."

But it's just these futuristic lines of business that have some shareholders worried. 

One of the world's best-known thinkers about global climate change is Australian writer Tim Flannery. He's not only a best-selling author, he's also his country's first Chief Commissioner for Climate Change.

His latest book, Here on Earth: a Natural History of the Planet, paints a hopeful picture of the future of human life on earth. He recently gave a talk in Seattle, where he said his message of optimism seemed to have trouble getting through to his audience.

KPLU's Bellamy Pailthorp caught up with him for an interview.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

The forecast is for sunny skies this weekend and some of the warmest temps we've seen all year. 

But when it rains a lot – as it has been lately – the runoff from city streets and houses pours toxins straight into Puget Sound. 

How homeowners can address that kind of water pollution is the subject of a series of neighborhood tours put on throughout the region this summer.  The first one is this weekend in Seattle.

 

Investors in Bellevue-based drugstore.com gather Thursday for their annual shareholder meeting. It's likely the last time they'll meet there. 

The online-retailer is being acquired by its biggest brick and mortar competitor: Illinois-based Walgreens. 

Courtesy of Quiring Monuments

The process of burying the dead hasn't changed much over the centuries, but now their gravestones can provide a digital link to their life stories.

A Seattle-based company is creating burial markers that include a scannable, stamp-like image called a "quick read" — or QR code.

Photo by Atomic Taco / Flickr

Shiny burgundy buses equipped with automated pay stations, three doors each, low-riding chassis and accelerated time tables started serving south King County last fall. They're called RapidRide and they're funded by the Transit Now ballot measure that voters approved in 2006. 

A second route is slated to start serving Bellevue and Redmond in October. The King County Council votes on exactly where they'll go on Tuesday afternoon

Courtesy of Chinese Expulsion Remembrance Project

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike has issued a formal apology to the Chinese community for the expulsion of their people,125 years ago.

Pike says the apology is meant to make it clear: authorities now see the racist actions by regional governments and their supporters more than a century ago were wrong.

In 1885 and 1886, thousands of Chinese immigrants were driven out of Puget Sound towns during an economic downturn. Civic leaders and town newspapers argued the new residents were taking jobs away from white people.

The apology and related events this week in Bellingham are part of a year-long Chinese Expulsion Remembrance Project. Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia and Mount Vernon are also taking part. The project also has a Facebook page.

Photo by MïK / Flickr

Grays Harbor Paper has shut down its mill in Hoquiam, putting a dour end to what had been a success story for 18 years. 

240 workers are losing their jobs. Many were shocked by the announcement, according to King-5 news.

“I thought this place was going to be in for the long haul,” said Tony Harris, who had worked for Grays Harbor Paper for two years.

Washington State University photo

A new industry is emerging in the Pacific Northwest – for development, production and distribution of aviation biofuels.

A consortium called Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest has just spent ten months producing an exhaustive study.  They've identified the four-state region of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana as a serious contender in the race to produce environmentally friendly jet fuels.

urbanvillages.com

Unless a lawsuit derails the process, a new 520 bridge will soon be built across Lake Washington. 

A company in Aberdeen is already constructing the huge pontoons that will keep the new, 6-lane structure afloat.

And the state is widening the highway on the east side of the lake. 

But exactly what the project will look like on the Seattle side is still being worked out.

Seattle's Board of Park Commissioners will get a briefing on impacts to the Washington Park Arboretum tomorrow night (Thursday).

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