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

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.

Tim Durkan

Dense fog blanketed much of the region Friday morning, but it burned off quickly, though morning fog is in the forecast again Saturday.

“Strangely enough, that’s a good sign,” said KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Matthew Brown / AP Photo

An overflowing crowd turned out to testify in Skagit County Thursday on plans to add an oil-train facility to Shell’s refinery in Anacortes.

The company says it needs to be able to receive Bakken crude by rail to remain competitive. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Environmentalists turned out in full force Wednesday to voice their opposition to a Port of Seattle agreement allowing Shell Oil to base its 26-ship Arctic drilling fleet in West Seattle.

A coalition of state and national groups is threatening to sue the Port over its agreement to lease the currently-vacant Terminal 5 to the oil company for up to four years.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Governor Jay Inslee’s plan to put a cap on carbon emissions and make big polluters pay got its first hearing in Olympia today. The bill would charge the state’s top emitters for each ton released, starting in July 2016. 

Elaine Thompson / AP

A proposed law that’s making its way through the state legislature could change the way first responders are mobilized during major emergencies, such as floods and landslides. Because the slide that devastated Oso last March wasn’t a fire, state crews were slow to help local teams.

Steve Mohundro / Flickr

Western Washington has been warmer than normal lately. People were shedding layers as the mercury hit temperatures in the 50s this week.

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says that pattern will continue and intensify this weekend, especially on Sunday. Records will be broken.

SDOT / Flickr

The lethal effects of urban runoff that kills some salmon and their prey can be reversed by filtering the water through a common soil mix, according to new research by state and federal scientists.

When it rains or people wash their cars, the water that runs over pavement picks up toxic chemicals such as oils, heavy metals and residue from car emissions. This can go straight into our waterways.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

In the wake of the deadly landslide in Oso, Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that would create a statewide database for geological hazard mapping figures.

Information is an important resource when it comes to preparing for potential hazards such as landslides or earthquakes. 

Ted S. Warrena / AP Photo

KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass says his email inbox has been full of questions about when the snow will return to western Washington, especially in the mountains and ski areas.

“In fact, things are not great right now,” Mass said. And extended forecasts indicate it’s unlikely to improve much this year.

Tim Durkan

The mild winter weather will continue through the weekend, and a burst of rain expected Saturday should die down in time for the Seahawks game, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.


The incredible size and speed of the Oso landslide that killed 43 people last March has been a source of wonder, even for the most seasoned geologists investigating it.

Now the U.S. Geological Survey has published its first peer-reviewed study of the event. It focuses on the landslide’s high mobility as a major cause of the destruction.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Eating too many fish from Washington state waters can make you sick. That’s the idea behind the updated fish consumption rule that has been formally proposed after two years of heated debate.

The new fish consumption rule will require dischargers to keep local waters clean enough that people can safely eat a serving of fish a day, rather than just one per month. 

Tim Durkan

The fog will likely stick around for a few more days, thanks to “a huge inversion,” an upside-down pattern of air temperatures that trap morning fog, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Small communities can be laboratories for societal change. That was one of the messages as a coalition of cities in King County celebrated commitments they’ve made to reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Leaders representing more than 60 percent of the county’s population have now signed on to goals outlined by the King County-Cities Climate Collaboration.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

The Shoreline School District locked down its schools in the district just north of Seattle for about two hours on Wednesday morning after a school food service employee saw a man reportedly carrying a rifle near a district preschool.

Isobel Alexander / courtesy SKMMR.

Yellow tape is warning people away from the pocket beach near the Olympic Sculpture Park on Seattle’s waterfront. But it’s not a crime scene. The beach was closed to protect a young harbor seal that had hauled out. It’s not uncommon this time of year. 

Harbor seal pups are born in the summer and early fall in the Puget Sound region. And after they’re weaned, they’re on their own and particularly vulnerable for about six months. 


Police are urging residents of a Hoquiam neighborhood to evacuate because of landslide danger, after heavy overnight rains caused mudslides and flooding through Grays Harbor County.

Courtesy Wash. Dept of Ecology

Washingtonians have lost some bragging rights.

We still recycle at a rate that’s much higher than the national average, but we’re no longer improving on the amount of recyclables we divert from landfills. The statewide rate went down in the most recent data set, to 49 percent in 2013. 

Tim Durkan

The dry, cold weather and clear blue skies that ushered in the new year with spectacular mountain views around Seattle is coming to an end. The clouds have moved in and you’ll need some rain gear by Sunday at the latest, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

Courtesy of Eric Warner

Fifteen years ago, Puget Sound salmon were listed under the Endangered Species Act. Despite the billions of dollars spent on recovery since, the results remain mixed. Some runs are seeing record returns while others are facing one of their worst years ever.

To learn more about the challenges of salmon recovery, our Swimming Upstream follows one chinook run from the open ocean to Puget Sound, through the Ballard Locks, past Renton and finally home to native spawning grounds on the Cedar River.

Note: KPLU will air the entire series at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2, and again at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 3. You can also find the entire series on >>>

Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

After the holiday gift-giving frenzy, many people look to get rid of old electronic devices. Most contain toxic heavy metals such as lead and mercury, so you shouldn’t throw them in the trash. Responsibly disposing of them is free in Washington. And you may even be able to turn an extra gadget into instant cash.