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

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Vendors of Seattle’s homeless newspaper Real Change are now able to sell digital copies and take payments with a new Android smart phone app. 

While the cashless, e-version of the street-corner paper isn't yet available for iPhones or through Windows mobile,  the makers and sellers of Real Change are calling it a big breakthrough.

Lindsey Wasson, Seattle Times / AP Photo (Pool)

The tragic landslide in Oso more than a year ago appears likely to have a silver lining for firefighters and the communities they serve: A legislative measure that would allow small town fire departments to share resources more effectively has unanimously passed out of the state senate and looks poised to become law.

Fire chiefs say they’ve been working for years to get more government help in natural disasters and accidents where nothing’s on fire.

Firefighters are trained to respond to all kinds of emergencies – especially in small towns. People call for everything from cat rescues to devastating accidents. And if there’s a big disaster such as an earthquake or oil spill, says Chief Brad Reading from Snohomish County Fire District 1, the law currently doesn’t cover the cost of outside help, unless something is burning. But it looks like that’s set to change.

Donna Gordon Blankinship / AP Photo

A drill rig that could be used for oil drilling in the Arctic will arrive in Port Angeles on Friday and remain there for about two weeks before it heads to Seattle.

Protesters have said they plan to meet it when it arrives in Seattle in May.

In a statement, the Port of Port Angeles said the 400-foot Polar Pioneer will be off-loaded and then have equipment installed.

The Coast Guard says protesters will have to stay 100 yards away from the rig when it is anchored - and 500 yards away when it is in transit.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

In an effort to raise revenue for public schools and transportation projects, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee  wants to charge polluters for their carbon emissions.

Tim Durkan

Cliff Mass is one of the region’s clearest communicators about the weather. We talked this week about the impacts of climate change in the next century. He has indicated in the past that we are relatively lucky when it comes to climate change.

But there will be changes, in the future.

elvis_payne / flickr

When you turn on the tap and water comes out, there’s a tendency to think it’s free.

But increasingly, there’s a push to recognize water as the precious commodity it is, by putting a higher price on it. 

Water as the oil of the 21st Century was the headline on an event in Seattle put on by the Clean Tech Alliance.     

Bellamy Pailthorp

Highly volatile Bakken  crude oil poses a serious threat to the safety of communities located along rail lines. Just since February, there have been four fiery derailments in the US and Canada.  Now Democrats in the U.S. Senate are pressing for more regulation.

Supporters of a carbon tax are gathering signatures from Washington voters for a possible ballot initiative.

Governor Jay Inslee has a bill on a cap-and-trade system already working its way through the legislature. But climate change activists are also laying the groundwork for the measure, which would add a tax of $25 dollars per ton of carbon dioxide.

Tim Durkan

The thunderstorms that hit our region a couple of days ago are a classic sign of spring in the Northwest. And the temps we’ve been experiencing lately are entirely normal for this time of year, says KPLU weather expert, Cliff Mass. 

So if you’ve been shivering and wishing for the balmy temps that made Monday seem like summer, Mass says you might as well get used to it for a while. We’re in for a cloudy, unsettled weekend, with “plenty of clouds around," according to Mass.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Legislation that would ensure more safety when oil trains roll through communities is still pending before lawmakers in Olympia. That’s nearly a year and a half after the fiery train derailment in Quebec that killed 47 people.

Two proposals that would help protect people from an oil train accident have been moving through the legislature in Olympia.  One is backed by environmentalists, the other more by industry.

Tim Durkan

Another unusually warm weekend is in store, but KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s not one for the history books.

“It’s not going to be as hot as we’ve had,” he said.

That’s in contrast to Thursday, when the mercury hit 71 degrees in Seattle, an all-time record high for that day.

Elaine Thompson / AP

One of the biggest challenges Seattle faces is its transportation systems. The city is launching a series of talks at the library about the future of mobility. The aim is to get the public thinking about urban design as the population grows. 

Debra Scollard

It was an emotional day in Oso, exactly one year after the mudslide on Highway 530 near the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.

Families and first responders came together to commemorate their loss and celebrate their community. 

Bagpipes sounded out as pipe and drum corps from Snohomish and King counties led the way for first responders and elected officials.

All were paying tribute to the 43 people who died in the Oso mudslide. Those honoring them gathered in the middle of the highway, which was closed for three hours to commemorate the loss and recovery.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

In Oso this weekend, thousands of people are expected to turn out for memorial gatherings to mark the anniversary of one of the nation’s deadliest landslides.

First responders and families of the 43 people who died are asking the public to give them space.

Stephanie Sinclair

Spring is officially here.

The vernal equinox means that days and nights are of equal length. From here on out, the days will get longer. It’s also a great season for cloudgazing, which KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass knows a lot about.

This weekend will bring plenty of opportunities for admiring all kinds of clouds.

“Clouds like altostratus and altocumulus that will be thickening in,” Mass said. “Another cloud that’s very popular around here we’ll see tomorrow morning: the stratocumulus – low clouds that have these heaps and clear skies in between.”

One year ago, a mudslide wreaked havoc on Oso, a small community in Washington state. It took just a few minutes to topple dozens of homes, leaving 43 people dead. Volunteers and first responders rushed to the scene to save trapped residents. Yet, remarkably, none of them were hurt, at least not physically.

In the weeks and months following the landslide, thousands of people from the outlying areas formed teams. Loggers brought in heavy equipment; Red Cross and other groups organized volunteers and protected families from the throngs of media.

Bellamy Pailthorp

A year ago Sunday, 43 people died in the devastating Oso mudslide. Thousands of volunteers turned up to help. And, even if they hadn't lost someone themselves, coping this past year has been tough.

LISTEN: Two volunteers describe their experience:


A TV set depicting a Zombie Apocalypse will go up in Olympia on Tuesday.

The makers of the sci-fi series “Z-nation” are setting up shop at the state capitol to show how many kinds of jobs are involved when film crews come to town. They’re pressing lawmakers to approve more incentives for movie making in Washington state.

"Z-Nation" is filmed in Spokane, but for one day, an apocalyptic set inspired by the show will be in Olympia to demonstrate how many jobs are linked to film work.

Tim Durkan Photography

Get your tee shirts and shorts out. You'll need them as we head into the weekend. 

That’s the word from KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass, who says the warm air above us is “warm enough that if it was completely sunny today, many people would experience temperatures getting into the lower 70s.”

Possibility Of Record-Breaking Temps Friday

The big question, Mass said, is how much the clouds will thicken up on Friday around the Puget Sound region.

If they’re thick, Mass says temperatures will hit 66 or 67 degrees, which is way warmer than normal.

A federal court will hear oral arguments Monday in Seattle, in a case that pits the United States against the State of Washington. It has to do with who gets to take how much fish.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez has set aside 3 weeks in his calendar to hear issues involved.

Three tribes are mentioned in the current litigation: the Makah, the Quileute and the Quinault Indian Nations. They’re fighting with each other.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

When you start talking with David Kirtley, don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel like you’re in a comic strip.  

Kirtley is the CEO of Redmond-based Helion Energy, and his business plan sounds like fantasy. He says the potential for solving all of our energy problems is contained in what looks like just a drop of water.

Tim Durkan

If rainy weather makes you blue, don’t worry. The sun will come out on Saturday, and the weekend will bring us back to the pattern of sunshine. 

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass sounded a bit surprised to see rain coming down on Friday, amid one of the sunniest winters we’ve experienced in a long time.

Tim Durkan

Friday’s clouds and sprinkles are moving out, and sunshine and more warmth are coming in this weekend.

And you can expect the pattern of unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having in western Washington to intensify over the next week, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Tim Durkan

Mother Nature is serving up sunny skies and amazingly warm temperatures for the long Valentine’s Day weekend.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says conditions will be “perfect for conditions hikers, bikers and gardeners; let’s not mention skiers." 

Jeff Barnard / AP Photo

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story quoted Rep. Gael Tarleton, who said, "Oregon has a moratorium" on suction dredge mining. She also said, "The state of Idaho has banned suction dredging under the Clean Water Act." The state of Oregon does not have a moratorium though it does restrict the practice, and the state of Idaho has banned the practice only in some waters, including all areas designated as critical habitat for endangered salmon. 

Washington is the only state left in the Pacific Northwest where people mining for gold and other minerals are allowed unrestricted use of motorized vacuums in riverbeds.

The practice is known as suction dredge mining, and some are concerned it’s harmful to endangered fish. A bill before the legislature would place new restrictions on it while its impacts are studied.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The CEO of the Port of Seattle has signed a lease agreement that will allow the Shell Oil Company to base part of its Arctic drilling fleet in West Seattle despite the threat of a lawsuit from a coalition of environmental groups.

Orlin Wagner / AP Photo

The changing composition of crude oil could have big consequences for the future of the Pacific Northwest economy. That’s one of the key ideas behind a Freedom of Information Act request filed Tuesday by three environmental nonprofit groups. It has to do with exceptions being made to the nation’s 40-year policy of banning most exports of crude oil.

Tim Durkan

Keep your rain gear handy.

The record rain that hit Seattle and drenched the Olympic Mountains Thursday will keep pounding the region for most of the weekend, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Courtesy Peter Steinbrueck /

It’s been 20 years since Seattle adopted a growth management strategy based on so-called “urban villages.”

Those are neighborhoods targeted for high density to help reduce urban sprawl. A new report gives the city a mixed review. Among the critiques: people aren’t living close enough to where they work.

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