Environment

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

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.

WSDOT

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. 

The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan are reverberating across the Pacific in a variety of ways. Now, a Vancouver B.C.-area bottled water company finds itself at the center of efforts to cope with the latest turn of events.

Courtesy Othello Sandhill Crane Festival

Thousands of their fans will greet them, but the onlookers will be outnumbered by approximately 25,000 to 35,000 sandhill cranes making a stop in eastern Washington.  The birds stand up to 4 feet tall, and stop in the Othello area every March at the Columbia National Wildlife refuge on their way to summer breeding grounds in Alaska.

For the past 14 years Othello has celebrated the rite of spring and welcomed birdwatchers with the annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival. The video below is from the festival's web site.

hippyshopper.com

An effort in Olympia to broaden Washington’s renewable energy law is running into opposition.

Green energy groups say the proposed change would weaken the voter-approved Initiative 937.

At events in Olympia and Salem Tuesday, an activist group called on Washington and Oregon's governors to stop spending taxpayer dollars on bottled water.

Organizer Sriram Madhusoodanan, with the group Corporate Accountability International, says those little plastic bottles, sometimes available at public meetings and events, create unnecessary waste and undermine confidence in the quality of public water supplies.

Liam Moriarty / KPLU News

Major league sports teams in the Northwest have been recycling, composting food waste, cutting their power use and more.

Consider the Mariners. From 2006-2009, the team:

  • reduced natural gas use by 60 percent
  • reduced electricity use by 30 percent
  • reduced water use by 15 percent

Now, the Mariners and other teams from Seattle, Portland and Vancouver B.C. are forming a non-profit with the goal of spreading the green gospel to stadiums nationwide.

The nuclear reactor crisis in Japan is prompting more scrutiny of the nuclear power plant near Richland in southeast Washington. Thursday a Seattle-based Hanford watchdog sued Energy Northwest. The group is demanding the power supplier turn over more documents on the possibility of the plant using plutonium for reactor fuel.

AP

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he thinks the city’s waterfront viaduct poses an earthquake risk and should be taken down next year.

That's a good four years before the viaduct's planned replacement -- a deep-bore tunnel under downtown -- would be ready.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers will open for barge traffic soon. Locks were closed for several months during repairs.

For most drivers in Washington’s most-populated areas, getting your car’s emissions system tested is an every-other-year ritual. Now, state environment officials are proposing to make changes they say will streamline the process without compromising the region’s air quality.

Tidal gauges detected a tsunami wave along the Washington and Oregon coasts Friday morning. But the swell, up to 1.5 feet, went unnoticed by coastal residents who chose not to evacuate.

Mark Malleson / Courtesy of orcanetwork.org

The oldest and perhaps most-recognizable of the local killer whales is missing and researchers fear he may have died over the winter.

The orca known to researchers as J-1 was last seen on November 21st near Victoria, B.C. Also known as “Ruffles,” for the wavy edge to his distinctive six-foot-tall dorsal fin, J-1 was believed to be about 60 years old. He was one of the first individual orcas to be identified by researchers in the early 19-70s.

The owner of the largest coal-fired power plant in the Northwest has agreed to phase out coal-burning by the end of 2025.

Washington’s governor and environmental groups announced an agreement with TransAlta Corporation Saturday. Within hours, the Washington State Senate passed a bill to turn the deal into law.

USFS

One of the rarest mammals in North America is staging a comeback here in the Northwest. Wildlife biologists have tracked wolverines on mountainsides where they haven't been seen in many decades. But several new studies also suggest the recovery could be short lived if mountain snowlines retreat due to global warming.

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