Environment

Solar energy
5:00 am
Mon August 8, 2011

Solar power gaining momentum in Seattle

Outside the solar-powered carousel at Woodland Park Zoo, visitors can see how much power is generated and used. The solar panels on the roof have exceeded expectations in the six months since the demonstration project went online.
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU News

From carousels to picnic shelters and libraries, solar power is becoming more commonplace in Seattle.

City Light says it has seen big growth in customer demand for alternative energy over the past decade – and small solar is one of the biggest draws. 

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Environment
10:48 am
Fri August 5, 2011

Catalyst may lead to more ethanol options

The right balance of zinc and zirconium oxides in this catalyst (purple block) converts ethanol to isobutene with low amounts of unwanted byproducts such as acetone and ethylene.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Ethanol may soon have more uses than just as a fuel additive. Researchers have accidentally discovered an easier, more environmentally friendly biofuel catalyst.

Researchers hope a new catalyst called isobutene will lead to more ways to use ethanol –- from making rubber to solvents to aviation fuel.

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Endangered species
10:09 am
Fri August 5, 2011

Ranchers worried budget crisis will limit payments in wolf plan

Washington's wolf plan looks great on paper, ranchers say, but they worry the state budget crisis will hamper payments for livestock killed by wolves.
Idaho Fish and Game

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington ranchers would get full compensation for confirmed wolf kills of their livestock under a new state wolf management plan. That proposal got its first public airing in Olympia Thursday.

Just as in neighboring Oregon, ranchers are uneasy about how the payments will work in reality.

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Salmon recovery
5:05 pm
Tue August 2, 2011

Judge: Salmon plan falls short

Federal Judge James Redden this afternoon struck down the federal government’s plan for managing salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers.

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Global Warming
6:25 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Seattle spring was the coldest, one of the cloudiest on record

Scientists have confirmed what many suspected about this year’s weather. It was the coldest spring on record for Washington and one of the cloudiest. 

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Environment
5:06 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Study: 'Intensive' thinning needed to best cut wildfire risk

In the last ten years, the federal government and rural landowners have spent increasing sums of money thinning spindly trees and removing underbrush. The aim is to reduce risk from wildfire.

A new study by the Forest Service finds that tree stands need to be "intensively" thinned for that strategy to be effective.

Study co-author David Peterson of the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Seattle says a dense tinderbox forest before thinning could have more than a 1,000 trees per acre.

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Woodland Park Zoo
4:39 pm
Mon August 1, 2011

Seattle zoo's grizzly bear brothers are back online

Woodland Park Zoo’s two grizzly bears are brothers named Keema and Denali and are 17 years old (2011).
Courtesy of Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland Park Zoo’s 17-year-old grizzly bear brothers Keema and Denali can be watched live online 24/7 through the zoo’s partnership with Ustream, an internet live streaming service.

(You can also watch the video inside)

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Environment
10:43 am
Mon August 1, 2011

With defense money, scientists swap eggs to reverse lark's decline

A researcher bands an Oregon chick that successfully fledged from Washington nest.
Adrian Wolf

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Wildlife biologists are employing a little trickery to stop the downward spiral of a rare grassland bird in Western Washington. On Friday, biologists took eggs from healthier larks in Oregon and swapping them into western Washington nests, hoping the lark mothers don't notice.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
10:27 am
Mon August 1, 2011

New agency sought to find site for nation's nuclear waste

An aerial view of north end of the Yucca Mountain crest in February 1993.
Photo courtesy Dept. of Energy

The nation needs a new agency to site a federal nuclear waste dump. That's the recommendation issued Friday by a presidential commission.

The congressionally-chartered agency would decide where to store radioactive waste that's now sitting in aging underground tanks in southeast Washington.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
10:21 am
Mon August 1, 2011

NW could keep nuclear waste for 100 years under recommendation

The Northwest could end up keeping Hanford’s nuclear waste for 100 years or more under a recommendation issued Friday by a presidential commission. President Obama appointed the Blue Ribbon Commission to look into the question of where to store the nation’s worst nuclear waste.

The new report says one option may be to store the waste at regional centers for more than 100 years while the country looks for a suitable permanent repository. That concerns Susan Leckband, who chairs a board that advises managers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

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Environment
10:15 am
Mon August 1, 2011

Idaho allows wolf hunting season with traps, no kill quota

Idaho big game manager Jon Rachael presents a wolf hunting plan to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission in Salmon.
Jessica Robinson Northwest News Network

SALMON, Idaho - The Idaho Fish and Game Commission voted Thursday for a plan that sets hunting and trapping season for the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf. The state hopes sportsmen will help keep the wolf population in check.

But critics object to Idaho allowing hunters to use traps for the first time since the wolves were reintroduced.

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Breaking
12:02 pm
Fri July 29, 2011

Wash. files suit on Yucca Mountain consideration

YAKIMA, Wash. — Washington state has filed another lawsuit to compel the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to resume consideration of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

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Environment
10:04 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Western pond turtle population grows in Washington

The Western pond turtle's presence is growing in Washington.
Yathin Flickr

A program to save the western pond turtle in Washington has helped the wild population in the state grow from about 150 20 years ago to about 1,500 today.

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Environment
5:00 pm
Thu July 28, 2011

Campaign to protect precious lands in San Juan Islands

A grassroots campaign of local conservation groups is hoping to get federally owned land in the San Juans declared a National Conservation Area.
Courtesy of San Juan Islands National Conservation Area

The San Juan Islands are known for pristine natural beauty that includes a national wildlife refuge and several remote state parks.  

But they also contain about 1,000 acres of federally owned land that has been largely forgotten by authorities. Some islanders fear it might be sold off to developers.

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Fraser River salmon
12:26 pm
Wed July 27, 2011

Controversy growing in Canada over ‘muzzling’ of salmon expert

Here is a stretch of the Fraser River in Vancouver, British Columbia. Scientists working with sockeye salmon struggling to cope with warming temperatures in the Fraser River have identified broad genetic traits that can predict which fish will live or die
Associated Press

Government officials in Ottawa are getting heat for apparently muzzling a scientist whose study discovered that a viral infection – which has been referred to as "salmon leukemia" – may be the cause of salmon stocks crashing off Canada’s west coast.

The Vancouver Sun reported that the Privy Council Office, which supports the Prime Minister’s Office, stopped the study’s lead scientist “from talking about one of the most significant discoveries to come out of a federal fisheries lab in years.”

The Canadian government told the Postmedia News, which wrote the story, that scientist Kristi Miller has not been permitted to talk about her work because she is expected to testify later this summer before a commission looking into the decline of the Frazer River sockeye salmon.

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