Environment

Stories about the environment focused on the Pacific Northwest, with many from KPLU's Environment reporter, Bellamy Pailthorp.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee says it’s time to make polluters pay for carbon emissions. He’s proposed a cap-and-trade system that he says will raise a billion dollars a year while helping the state drastically reduce its contribution to global warming. 

Tom Banse

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making a high-stakes bet that it will prevail in a pending lawsuit over Snake River dredging.

Two million taxpayer dollars could go to waste if environmental challengers succeed in blocking dredging of the West Coast's farthest inland ports.

Washington Department of Commerce photo

Imagine a future in which a third of our nation’s electricity came from wind power. Activists around the country say that’s possible in the next 15 years. Here in Washington, it would mean getting eight times more electricity from windmills.

That’s according to a new report from Environment Washington, the organization that has been spearheading policies to phase out disposable plastic shopping bags here and all over the country. The group, which is part of a nationwide network, released its report, titled More Wind, Less Warming, in about 20 states simultaneously this week.

Rick McGuire / Courtesy of Washington Wild

Washington stands to get a new national park and thousands of acres of wilderness and wild and scenic river areas if the U.S. Senate approves a massive defense package that has passed the House.

The package, which has a handful of public lands bills tacked on to it, appears headed for passage next week. And in a curious twist, the tragic landslide in Oso seems to have opened the door to a bipartisan solution.

Matt Cooper / University of Oregon

Any parent of a rambunctious youngster can tell you trouble might be afoot when things go quiet in the playroom. Two independent research initiatives indicate there is a comparable situation with the Cascadia earthquake fault zone.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

A long-awaited roadmap is in place for the cleanup of Seattle’s only river.

The Lower Duwamish Waterway was listed as a Superfund site in 2001. Now, after extensive public feedback, a final cleanup plan has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

  The Navy is holding two additional public meetings this week in response to concerns about a proposed expansion of its fleet of EA-18-G Growler planes based on Whidbey Island.

Seattle City Light is moving forward with plans to upgrade residential electrical meters with advanced technology, often called “smart metering.”

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Gov. Jay Inslee has challenged two Republican senators to "do more than just criticize and mischaracterize actions" being considered to reduce carbon pollution.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Western Washington has all the conditions that make it prime territory for landslides: lots of loose material that our glaciers left behind as they carved steep slopes into a landscape that gets lots of heavy rainfall.

Still, predicting exactly when landslides will happen is extremely complex.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Seattle’s South Park neighborhood got a visit Monday from Gov. Jay Inslee. 

The governor was highlighting the disproportionate health impacts of air pollution there as part of his statewide climate tour. It’s one more argument in favor of his plan to cap carbon emissions.

Elizabeth Cherny-Chipman / AP Photo/Oregon State University

Scientists have isolated a virus they are pretty sure is causing the mysterious disease that has killed millions of sea stars on the Pacific Coast by melting them into slime and piles of tiny bones.

The study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says a variety of densovirus is the likely cause of sea star wasting syndrome.

Wikimedia

A new study out of Canada reveals a surprising side-effect that hunting may have on wolves.

Researchers wanted to compare the hormone levels in wolves that often deal with hunters’ fire, versus wolves that are hunted very little. They were able to measure levels of progesterone, testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol by looking at samples of wolf hair from different parts of northern Canada.

Courtesy Puget Sound Energy / Flickr

Gusty winds are posing some unusual challenges for Puget Sound Energy, toppling trees and taking out power lines as the cold air races in from the east.

The utility has called in outside crews to help with repairs, especially in the hardest-hit areas of South King County. Less than half of the 70,000 Puget Sound Energy customers who lost power overnight were still in the dark Tuesday afternoon.

You’ve probably noticed the arctic air mass from the North Pole, nuzzling in close here for an icy hug. What you might not have thought of are the cold apples in the Northwest and the people struggling to harvest the last of them.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

How to prevent unsafe logging on steep slopes that could cause future landslides will be at the center of discussions in Olympia Wednesday. In the wake of the Oso tragedy, the state’s Forest Practices Board is in the process of updating permitting guidelines. 

Tom Banse

An oceanography institute announced Monday that trace amounts of radioactivity from Japan have been detected off the West Coast.

Radiation experts say the low levels of radioactivity measured do not pose a health threat here.

Courtesy of SDOT

Seattle is joining other big cities with a new tool to make it easier to use public transportation. The city’s first TransitScreen is up and running at the Seattle Municipal Tower. The big screen display gives commuters in the building real-time information about their best travel options. And more TransitScreens are on the way. 

Jessica Robinson

The Environmental Protection Agency is testing out a new technique for keeping heavily-used river banks from eroding into the water.

The EPA wants to see if these living retainer walls can contain lead pollution at a Superfund site in north Idaho.

To make these “soil burritos,” a construction crew pours a layer of dirt into what looks like a car-sized piece of burlap. Then they put down willow branches. If all goes according to plan, those willows will start taking root in the dirt next spring.

Undaunted and optimistic – that’s the attitude Gov. Jay Inslee says he has about working with the legislature after Tuesday’s elections.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More than 100 Washington businesses are calling for action on climate change and urging others to join them.

Companies including Microsoft, Foss Maritime, REI and Virginia Mason Medical Center have signed an open declaration, saying climate change is real and happening and that more action is needed to address it.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Editor's Note: 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, this series 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.

For more than a hundred years, the aqueduct at Landsburg Park near Maple Valley was the end of the line for salmon in the Cedar River watershed. Built between 1899 and 1901 through a voter initiative to provide water for the city of Seattle after the great Seattle fire, Seattle’s water system is the envy of municipalities all over the country.

Read the full story on our companion site, northwestsalmon.org >>>

The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the U.S. Navy to reroute a creek and clean up a decades-old dump in Kitsap County.

The EPA says contamination from the Gorst Creek Landfill is posing risks to public health and salmon habitat.

myriverguide.com / Flickr

Construction begins this week on a state project in the Methow Valley to give fish a boost of cold, clean water in rivers near Twisp, Washington. The state and a trout conservation group are pouring about $10 million into a whole new irrigation system there.

Government regulators have approved a new generation of genetically engineered corn and soybeans. They're the latest weapon in an arms race between farmers and weeds, and the government's green light is provoking angry opposition from environmentalists.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Editor's Note: 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, this series 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.

About five miles from the clogged freeways, shopping malls and airplane hangars at the south end of Lake Washington, the Cedar River starts winding its way through Maple Valley.

It’s here, along some 30 miles of streambeds, some just a few paces off the highway, where life begins and ends each fall for hundreds of Lake Washington chinook.

Read the full story on our companion site, northwestsalmon.org >>>

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Gleaning is an ancient word for a practice that dates back to Biblical times. Farmers allowed peasants to take leftover crops after the harvest was over. The practice has been making a comeback in recent years as a way to fight hunger locally and cut back on food waste. 

At Clean Greens Farm in Duvall, Washington, a field of kale is overflowing. It's been picked before, but it just keeps on coming, says farm manager Tommie Willis, as he leads a group of volunteers to one patch and shows them how to glean. 

(Michael Holden/Flickr)

Editor's Note: 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, this series 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.

One of the most intriguing questions about Lake Washington chinook is the mystery of how they survived after we replumbed the region with the construction of the Ship Canal, which was completed in 1916. It dropped the level of the lake by nearly 10 feet and cut it off from what used to be its southern outlet, the Green River.

Read the full story on our companion site, northwestsalmon.org >>>

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The state of Washington is going back to federal court over cleanup at Hanford, the nation’s largest nuclear waste site. Gov. Jay Inslee announced the latest court action Friday in an exclusive public radio interview.

The decision to return to court follows months of negotiations that failed to produce a new Hanford cleanup agreement. Inslee says the time has come once again to get the courts involved.

Pages