Environment

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

Wildlife experts say bear attacks are rising – but then, so is the number of people in bear country. Yellowstone National Park officials confirmed that a grizzly bear killed a hiker from Michigan. That's the second grizzly-caused death in the park this summer.

According to the Montana-based Center for Wildlife Information, run-ins with grizzly and black bears have increased in the last 20 years in North America. To some degree, that's expected. Bear populations have dramatically increased, and more people live and recreate in bear habitat now.

Seth Bynum / Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Now a little over two months after their birth, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium's two clouded leopard cubs, named Taji and Sumalee, are more active than ever, if the new photos released are anything to go by. (More photos inside.)

Courtesy of the Department of Energy.

RICHLAND, Wash. — U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings says he is pursuing legislation to recognize the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor as a national historic park.

Idaho politicians are questioning the federal government's decision to press charges against a man for killing a grizzly bear near his house. Governor Butch Otter sent a letter to the Department of the Interior asking Secretary Ken Salazar to look into the north Idaho case. Senator Mike Crapo is also pushing for answers from the Interior Department.

Thirty-three-year-old Jeremy Hill faces up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine for killing a grizzly bear. The grizzly is a threatened species.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Researchers recently received a grant to develop a better process to capture carbon dioxide that could save more than half of what coal-fired power plants now spend on the technology.

An oil-loving clay used to sop up creosote in the Portland Harbor has been so successful that it will be applied to a much larger project this fall on the Grand Calumet River in Gary, Indiana.

University of Texas Professor Danny Reible worked on the Willamette River cleanup site. Thousands of tons of a specially-formulated clay were used to cap the sediment.

Sam Beebe / Flickr

The U.S. Army says its contractors have quickened the pace of weapons incineration at the Umatilla Chemical Depot. Fewer than 400 ton-sized containers of deadly liquid mustard agent remain at the northeast Oregon site.

WSDOT photo

Get ready to pay if you drive on the floating bridge across Lake Washington. The state Department of Transportation has announced the much-delayed tolls on the 520 bridge will start in December.

Tolling on the bridge was originally set to begin this spring, then that was bumped to this summer. Now, the state says the all-electronic system will be up and running four months from now. 

Kerry Lannert / KPLU

The sweet smell from your dryer vent could contain toxic pollution.

A new study from the University of Washington found hazardous chemicals in the air after clothes were laundered with scented detergents and dryer sheets. At least two of the chemicals are considered carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Imagine you’ve spent the day hiking trails in the woods and roasting s’mores. Now imagine you’ve left your tent at home, only to take shelter in a cargo shipping container. That’s the challenge King County Parks hoped would inspire designers to blend the outdoor experience with eco-friendly containers. 

RICHLAND, Wash. – A key contractor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation said Monday it will have nuclear experts review its safety culture. Bechtel has been under fire at the southeast Washington nuclear site since a high-level manager was taken out of his position after raising safety concerns.

Bechtel is building a $12 billion factory to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. But recently the federal Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board came to the conclusion that the project’s safety culture is "flawed."

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

PORT ANGELES, Wash. – Seattle's Kingdome collapsed with a bang. Explosive demolition experts also brought down the cooling tower at the former Trojan nuclear plant. But if you're hoping for the same excitement from the upcoming destruction of two big hydropower dams on Washington's Elwha River, you'll be disappointed.

The history-making dam removal that begins in September will happen slowly and methodically.

With more people taking up crabbing in Puget Sound, the people who police the harvest are seeing an uptick in illegal activity. Officials say the illegal activity is a major threat to future crab populations.

Joost Nelissen / Flickr

Nearly 40 years ago, the U.S. government began setting federal standards to clean up water pollution with the passage of the landmark Clean Water Act. Now, many environmental groups say that law is under attack and they’re worried about consequences.

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Scientists say an orange-colored goo that streaked the shore of a remote Alaska village turned out to be fungal spores, not millions of microscopic eggs as indicated by preliminary analysis.

Mayor McGinn's photostream / flickr.com

When it comes to fuel efficiency, Northwest drivers are apparently motivated more by their wallets rather than a desire to be green.

A poll commissioned by Seattle based PEMCO Insurance finds 83 percent of drivers here save fuel mainly because they want to save money. Only 14 percent said they saved fuel primarily to cut down on pollution and carbon emissions.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

NEWPORT, Ore. – A fleet of federal research ships is moving from Seattle to the Oregon coast. This weekend, state and local leaders in Newport are celebrating the transition with festivities. The state of Oregon kicked in nearly $20 million to help Newport lure the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific operation center from its long-time home.

From the Yaquina Bay Bridge, a huge bridge over the harbor, you can get a good view of the new NOAA pier. It can hold up to a half-dozen ocean-going ships.

Courtesy of Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board

This year's prolonged wet weather is having the side effect of re-invigorating a noxious weed. The Northwest is seeing a comeback of tansy ragwort, a toxic species of sunflower that farmers thought they had vanquished years ago.

NEWPORT, Ore. – Advocates of banning plastic grocery bags are taking their cause to smaller cities. An effort to ban the bags statewide failed in both the Oregon and Washington legislatures this year.

Now, supporters are making their case to city councils across the Northwest.

Aleph1 / Flickr

WARRENTON, Ore. – Perhaps you've had salmon, tuna or swordfish for dinner recently. Or maybe it's on the menu tonight. Every big fish that lands on your plate got that big by eating lots and lots of little fish.

If you don't have abundant small fish in the ocean, you won't have the big fish. That's why some scientists, fishery managers and advocacy groups are paying more attention to the small prey in the sea.

Some environmental group now also want tighter regulation, and that's making fishermen nervous.

WSDOT / flickr.com

It's become an autumn tradition: the annual survey of bicyclists and pedestrians in Washington. For the fourth year in a row, volunteers are needed to help the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Cascade Bicycle Club take a statistical snapshot of the number of people who get around by walking and biking.

courtesy of Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife

RICHLAND, Wash. –Wild life officials and park managers are refining a better strategy to keep aggressive mountain goats at bay, but steering clear of goats is a good first step.

A hiker was gored to death by a big mountain goat in the Olympic National Park last fall. And just recently, Wenatchee National Forest rangers fielded multiple complaints about an aggressive goat in the hills near Ellensburg.

Northwest News Network

Scientists are experimenting with 1,800-year-old glass to better understand how nuclear waste storage will hold up for millennia to come.

Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife

The recent ups and downs of wolf de-listing have split environmentalists over strategy. This week, a handful of conservation groups filed an appeal in San Francisco to return wolves to the endangered species list. But other groups feel the battle won't be won in the courts.

ABERDEEN, Wash. – A biodiesel plant at Aberdeen is operating 24 hours a day, producing fuel using canola oil from Canada.

The Daily World of Aberdeen reports the 4-year-old Imperium Renewables has recovered from struggles the past couple of years thanks to markets in Oregon and Canada driven by environmental standards.

Northwest business, fishing and food industry leaders are asking for a new approach to salmon policy. From Richland, Courtney Flatt has more.

A group of one thousand businesses is using a ruling recently issued by federal judge James Redden to call for a new look at salmon policy.

In a news conference, business owners and fishermen say they hope to bring key regional stakeholders to the table to restore all salmon runs to the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Spokane outdoor retailer Paul Fish says a healthy environment goes hand-in-hand with a healthy economy.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A north Idaho man could face fines and prison time for shooting a grizzly bear on his property. The animal is considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act and federal law allows people to kill grizzlies only in certain situations.

A short-line railroad is taking a hard look at opening a coal shipping terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor. This is the third location proposed by different developers in western Washington. It would export Rocky Mountain coal to Asia.

The corporate parent of the Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad proposes to redevelop a public port terminal in Hoquiam. The railroad anticipates coal exports would be its main business.

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Scientists have identified an orange-colored gunk that appeared along the shore of a remote Alaska village as millions of microscopic eggs.

By Stephanie Bower / Courtesy Seattle City Light

As interest in solar power gains momentum, Seattle City Light is marketing a new program to make it more widely available. 

Community Solar gives people who can’t install solar panels on their own homes the chance to reap the rewards of a cash investment in solar power.

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