Liam Moriarty

Environment Reporter

Liam Moriarty started with KPLU in 1996 as our freelance correspondent in the San Juan Islands. He’s been our full-time Environment Reporter since November, 2006. In between, Liam was News Director at Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon for three years and reported for a variety of radio, print and web news sources in the Northwest. He's covered a wide range of environment issues, from timber, salmon and orcas to oil spills, land use and global warming. Liam is an avid sea kayaker, cyclist and martial artist.

Liam's most memorable KPLU radio moment: "Recording a musician swapping songs with killer whales from a boat in the middle of Johnstone Strait in British Columbia."

Ways to Connect

Robin W. Baird / AP Photo/ Cascadia Research Collective

Active sonar is the Navy’s best weapon to detect the presence of hostile submarines. But that same powerful underwater pulse of sound can harm or even kill whales and other marine mammals.

Now, the Navy is seeking permission to continue using a huge swath of the Northwest coast, from northern California to the Canadian border, for a wide range of naval training and practice, including sonar. The Navy says it’s taking precautions to protect whales, but others say it’s not enough. 


An alliance of aboriginal groups in British Columbia has told federal officials that if Ottawa wants to get tribal cooperation on energy development, they'll have to kill a controversial oil pipeline proposal.

Hugh Shipman, Washington Department of Ecology

A recently-formed environmental watchdog group is appealing nearly a dozen permits issued for development along the Puget Sound shoreline. Sound Action says too many permits are being issued without the restrictions the law requires to protect important fish species.

Cloud Peak Energy


This year, falling coal prices have raised questions about whether the controversial coal export terminals proposed in the Pacific Northwest would pencil out. Now, an analysis of one major coal company's finances shows it could be more profitable to bet against coal than to actually export it.


A Whatcom County court has refused to order striking teachers back to the classroom at Bellingham Technical College Tuesday. They walked off the job after failing to reach an agreement with the school's administration on wages and other issues.

Washington State Department of Transportation

The makeover of Seattle's downtown waterfront is picking up steam as the seawall replacement, the viaduct removal, and other major projects gear up for action. Into this mix will come another ambitious renovation—a near-total rebuild of the Washington State Ferries' flagship terminal, the historic Colman Dock.

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Seattle is one of the most energy-efficient cities in the U.S., according to a new study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a Washington, D.C.-based research group. 

The study ranked cities based on their scores in several categories: local government operations, community-wide initiatives, building policies, utility policies and public benefits programs, and transportation policies.

Andrea Matzke at Wild Washington Rivers

The road map for balancing environmental needs with the need to generate power from the Northwest's hydroelectric dams is being revised. And the move has some people worried it could open the door to destructive dam projects on Washington rivers.

Less than four months after I-5 was severed when a bridge over the Skagit River collapsed, traffic is flowing over a permanent replacement for the failed span.

The temporary bridge that was quickly put into place over the Skagit River near Burlington after the accident last May was closed at about 7 on Saturday night, and all vehicles on this major highway linking Seattle with Vancouver, B.C. were detoured onto local streets.

Dougtone / Flickr

It may not feel like it when you’re in your car, but figures from the state Department of Transportation show there is less traffic on Washington’s roads than at any time in the last 10 years.

Between 1980 and 2002, the miles driven on the state’s roads more than doubled, from 15 billion per year to about 32 billion. Then suddenly, it leveled off and stayed that way for the past decade.

Philip Maser / Heron Habitat Helpers

The great blue heron is one of Washington’s most iconic birds, as is the bald eagle. Now, it seems eagle attacks on heron nests are driving herons to abandon the largest colony in Seattle. And volunteers are asking local residents to help them figure out where the herons have gone.

For more than a decade, Pam Cahn has monitored the dozens of heron nests at Kiwanis Ravine near Discovery Park in northwest Seattle. The volunteer citizen-scientist has kept track of eggs laid, chicks hatched and fledglings flown, then sent the data to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for record-keeping.

But Cahn says this season, eagles have wreaked havoc on the approximately 90 heron nests in Kiwanis Ravine.

That Hardford Guy / Flickr

An annual march to support legalization of marijuana will take to Seattle streets Saturday. The Cannabis Freedom March will feature a mock funeral procession for cannabis prohibition, complete with a hearse. Organizers say the time has come to lay anti-marijuana laws to rest.

“2013 is the year to really push,” said organizer Sharon Whitson with Hempfest. “We have legalized cannabis in Colorado, and here in Washington state. We have a number of other states seriously looking at it. And a few states, over the course of this year, have legalized medicinal cannabis, as well.”

JustinTL / Flickr

The cost of running for public office keeps rising, and Seattle City Council members worry the need to fund expensive campaigns gives people with deep pockets a louder voice.

While money doesn’t seem to play the outsized role in Seattle elections that it does in national or even state campaigns, longtime council member Nick Licata is concerned.

A typical city council campaign costs about a quarter of a million dollars. In the past decade, Licata notes, the average size of donations has nearly doubled.

The search for ways to reduce Washington’s more than $1 billion budget shortfall has led Gov. Jay Inslee to suggest eliminating some little-known tax breaks long enjoyed by various industries.

One of these loopholes saves millions each year for an industry that didn’t even exist in the state when the tax break was created.

Ryan Hawk / Woodland Park Zoo

After years of controversy over the welfare of the elephants at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, a task force of community leaders will meet for the first time Thursday.

Their goal is to figure out what’s best for the zoo’s three elephants.

NORMANDY, France – Both U.S. and European officials are claiming victory after a global trade court ruled in a long-standing dispute over claims of illegal government subsidies to Boeing and European rival Airbus. 

Associated Press

NORMANDY, France – Boeing rival Airbus is set to finish 2011 with a record number of aircraft orders, beating out Boeing for the ninth year in a row.

But analysts say Boeing is poised to gain ground against its European competitor in 2012. That's because of a new product that will be built in Puget Sound.

Brian Zeiler / Stewart, Tabori & Chang

Over the years, bears have gone from primal menace to environmental icon, while enduring a close brush with extinction along the way. Ecologist and Bellingham resident Chris Morgan works to educate people about bears, especially the bears we share the Cascades Mountains with.

On this Earth Day, we present a recent conversation about the importance of coming to terms with these large carnivores.

Liam Moriarty / KPLU

A steady drizzle has the infield covered in white plastic, but as the time ticks down, the place is in a high-level state of bustle.

Staffers scurry by carrying armloads of bright red T-shirts, burly young guys wheel stacks of cardboard boxes around. Crews are wiring up the TV and radio booths and the control room for the electronic scoreboard is filled with techies.

At 7:05 this evening, it's showtime for the newly redesigned, redveloped, revamped and renovated Cheney Stadium and the Tacoma Rainiers' home opener against the Sacramento River Cats.

If you live in Seattle, and you think your water and sewer charges are high, you’re right.

That’s according to a new city-government audit of Seattle Public Utilities. The Seattle Times reports the audit cites an industry analysis that found Seattle paying the highest rates among 50 U.S. cities. 


Next time you go whale watching on Puget Sound, be sure to take your binoculars. Soon, you’ll have to stay twice as far from the endangered killer whales as before. 

San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

Lawmakers in Olympia are struggling to close a $5 billion budget gap, and, like many state programs, natural resource agencies are on the chopping block. A study by a Tacoma-based non-profit says cutting those services too deeply could cost a lot more money than it saves.


If you ride Community Transit buses, brace yourself for longer waits and fewer trips. For the second year in a row, bus service in Snohomish County is facing a 20 percent cut.

If you put thousands of cows or chickens or hogs in a confined area, it’s likely to produce a powerful aroma. But can it harm your health?

A coalition of community and environmental groups says "yes." And they're asking for regulations on high-intensity livestock operations they say violate air pollution standards.


Boeing says it’s providing technical assistance to federal aviation regulators and to Southwest Airlines in the wake of Friday’s mid-flight incident where a hole appeared in the skin of a 737 airliner at 34,000 feet.

The Seattle Times reports that the sudden rupture has experts concerned because the stress-related failure of the aircraft’s aluminum skin occurred mid-fuselage. That's a place that was not previously thought to be vulnerable to that kind of damage. 


Today is the deadline for Washington and other states to apply for a share of more than $2 billion in federal high-speed rail money that Florida rejected. State officials hope to use some of that money to tackle landslides that have made rail travel this winter unreliable.

Ted S. Warren / AP

Update 2:55 p.m.

The federal Department of Justice is launching a full-scale investigation into possible discrimination and excessive use of force in the Seattle Police Department. The probe will review the department’s policies, practices and behavior.

The investigation will look for what’s called a “pattern or practice” of civil rights violations in how the Seattle police use force, especially against minorities.


Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes has filed a legal challenge to a citizen referendum on Seattle's proposed deep-bore waterfront tunnel.

Holmes has asked a judge to rule on whether the construction agreements between the city and the state that targeted by the referendum are “administrative actions” which can't be overturned by the vote. 

Liam Moriarty / KPLU News

What with theaters, concerts and clubs, Seattle has a pretty lively night life. But as a group of people gathers after dark at a marina on Elliot Bay, they’re looking for a completely different kind of thrill.


Opponents of the tunnel proposed to replace Seattle’s aging Alaskan Way Viaduct say they’ve gathered more than enough signatures to force a public vote. But a new poll suggests that won’t settle the contentious issue.