Environment

climate change
5:41 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Mounting Consequences as Arctic Sea Ice Melts

Melting sea ice in the Arctic is reducing food sources for polar bears—just one of many consequences, according to a new Review article published in the journal, Science.
Cecilia Bitz photo

Arctic sea ice is melting at record rates, and the loss of that ice could drive significant degradation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, according to a researcher at the University of Washington. The researcher, Cecilia Bitz, is part of an international team of scientists whose findings are published this week in the journal, Science

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Northwest coal
12:40 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

State Promising Extensive Review for Proposed Coal Exports

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Environmentalists are applauding the state Department of Ecology, which announced it will conduct an extensive review of the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham. 

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Water pollution
8:02 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

EPA Put on Notice over Wash. State's Fish Consumption Rate

How much fish is safe to eat? Only one small filet per month under Washington's current water quality standard - a fraction of what's shown in this picture of a traditional NW meal of wild salmon on cedar planks.
woodleywonderworks photo Flickr

The official estimate of how much fish people eat dictates the levels of pollution that are allowed, and a statewide coalition of clean water advocates says an accurate standard is long overdue.

Waterkeepers Washington is threatening to sue the federal government over lack of enforcement.

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Environment
6:06 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Seattle Project Highlights Role of Declining Bumblebees

A Bombus Occidentlais bumblebee, also known as the Western Bumblebee. A queen was recently spotted for the first time in the Seattle area since the mid 1990s.
Jo Hoffman

The plight of honeybees is well-known. Their numbers are dropping, and entomologists are trying to figure out the cause. But did you know that bumblebees—the larger, slower, and furrier relatives of the honeybee—are also in trouble?

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Wildlife sighting
5:01 am
Fri July 12, 2013

Close Encounter with Fighting Eagles at Seward Park

It’s always pretty special to see an eagle soaring near the water. But summer revelers in Seattle were recently shocked when they saw two of the large birds fighting in mid-air, dive-bombing each other at Seward Park. 

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energy efficiency 2.0
8:13 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Seattle, Microsoft team up to make buildings more energy-efficient

The Seattle Sheraton Hotel, one of four buildings that are part of the city's High-Performance Building Pilot Project. The aim is to use real-time data to reduce energy use by 10 to 25 percent without reducing worker productivity.
mage courtesy of Sheraton Seattle Hotel Facebook page.

Already known as a leader in sustainable architecture, Seattle is teaming up with Microsoft to take green building to the next level with the help of big-data computing.

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Environment
5:01 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Feds testing drones for scientific and environmental missions

The Puma AE unmanned aircraft system, shown during a pre-flight check for tests in NOAA's marine research missions from La Push, on the Olympic Penninsula. It launches without a runway, making it ideal for NOAA's missions at sea, the agency says.
Bellamy Pailthorp Photo KPLU News

They’re the tools of modern-day warfare: unmanned aircraft systems better known as drones.

They’re also being tested to help carry out important scientific missions, including surveys of wildlife and marine debris in the National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula.

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Environment
5:25 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

House Dems remove fish-consumption study from budget

jpellgen Flickr

Washington state House Democrats removed funds for a fish-consumption study from the final budget. That went against the wishes of one of the state's biggest business interests, Boeing.

The state Department of Ecology currently assumes that people in Washington eat about one meal of fish a month. But the state acknowledges the standard is out of date; many people eat a lot more fish than that.

Tribes and environmental groups have been urging the state to update its standard and require stricter regulation of water pollution. But that has been met with resistance from businesses, including Boeing.

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bottled water ban
5:01 am
Mon July 1, 2013

WWU to become largest public college in U.S. to ban bottled water

Anna Amundson, a WWU alumnae and past president of Students for Sustainable Water fills up at one of three grant-funded hydration stations students have spearheaded to replace use of water in disposable plastic bottles.
courtesy Carolyn Bowie

Western Washington University is poised to become the largest public university in the country to ban sales of bottled water. The school joins Evergreen State College and Seattle University in making the move.

For many young environmentalists, saying no to bottled water and yes to public taps is an easy choice and a cause they can get passionate about.

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Environment
11:22 am
Wed June 26, 2013

Obama's climate speech renews call for utilities to divest from coal

Eastern Montana's Colstrip Power Project is the single largest power-generating facility PSE owns. Coal comprises about 35% of PSE's energy portfolio.
Puget Sound Energy

“It’s the change we have been waiting for.” That’s the response from the Sierra Club to President Obama’s speech on climate change. A major part of his action plan is new limits on carbon emissions from power plants.

The local chapter of the club says even though no new policies will take effect for several years, utilities need to start adjusting now.

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Living with animals
5:01 am
Mon June 24, 2013

For 'refugees from urban farming craze', a backyard to call home

One of Tiffany Young's ducks drying off after a swim.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Urban farming sounds like a great idea to many people. You can grow your own vegetables and put in a chicken coop, or keep some ducks to make it all come full circle.

But a Seattle woman behind an operation called Ducks and Clucks says many folks are biting off more than they can chew when it comes to the birds. It is she who often comes to their rescue.

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Transportation alternatives
5:01 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Cycling symposium: Seattle’s primer for more urban biking

Craig Damlo Flickr

Experts on urban cycling are convening at the University of Washington this week to talking about how to get more people out of cars and onto bikes. And the experts say Seattle is poised to get to the next level.

Seattle is about half way through its ten-year Bicycle Master Plan. An update is under way and expected to be approved by the Seattle City Council this fall.

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Environment
5:00 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Proposed hydro-energy project has Index saying ‘no dam way’

Snohomish County PUD wants to install a small, inflatable dam at this bend on the south fork of the Skykomish River.
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU News

At a time when Washington state has been making headlines for the largest dam removal project ever on the Elwha River, Snohomish County is proposing a new one.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District says the proposed dam’s modern low-impact design would help the county diversify its energy portfolio and meet the future power demands of a growing population.

But the location of the proposed dam—on a wild and scenic stretch of the Skykomish River near the small town of Index—has many locals banding together against the project. 

'No dam way'

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Coal Exports
3:52 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Army Corps: No environmental study for Northwest coal terminals

In this photo taken Oct. 23, 2012, train tracks run through a wooded area near the site of a proposed coal exporting terminal Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, in Ferndale, Wash., near Bellingham, Wash.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dealt a big blow to environmental groups fighting proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest.

During testimony before Congress, an official with the agency said the Corps is not planning a broad environmental study on the impact of coal exports, meaning the proposed terminals' effects on climate change won’t be considered during the review process.

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Water pollution
5:00 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Human fecal bacteria confirmed in Seattle’s Thornton Creek

Fecal coliform bacteria has been found at several locations in the Thornton Creek watershed. A new study confirms the source is in large part human sewage.
courtesy Seattle Public Utilities

Scientists with the city of Seattle are narrowing in on the source of polluted water that flows through the city’s largest watershed. With a new study, they’ve confirmed human fecal bacteria are likely entering Thornton Creek at multiple locations near Northgate and Lake City Way.

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