environmental protection

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. 

Workers are back on the job at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. Work stopped this week when radioactive soil was found under the nests of some swallows.

Swallows used some radioactive mud to make nests on exposed beamwork in Hanford’s waste treatment plant. That’s the $12 billion factory designed to bind-up radioactive sludge in glass logs. The nests were found during routine tests, but this is the first radioactive contamination of the new plant.

The City of Seattle continues to build its case against huge new coal
trains that would rumble through town if an export terminal is built
in Bellingham.

The Mayor of Seattle has released a new study that ups the pressure on
the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Ecology, who are
responsible for the environmental impact study of the proposed
terminal at Cherry Point.

King County

Celebrating taxes is a pretty uncommon event, but the King County Council did just that yesterday to mark the 30th anniversary of a property tax and the more than 100,000 acres of public lands it has paid to preserve.

The council also made its praise of the Conservation Futures Tax official with a resolution honoring those who created the program to spend the money.

Courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service

They’re slimy and cold-blooded.

But conservationists say amphibians and reptiles are important indicator species – and some of the most endangered.

Five of these sensitive creatures that call Washington home are among more than 50 included in a petition for federal protection.

Photo by KenBungay / Flickr

A bill to establish a National Conservation Area that would give permanent protection 1,000 acres of unique landscapes in the San Juan Islands is wending its way through Congress. A key committee took up the legislation this afternoon. Senator Maria Cantwell told a panel, the bill would stave off the threat of future development.

caroltlw photo / Flickr

In the long saga to protect the northern spotted owl, it's now officially "owl vs owl."

US Fish and Wildlife says the decline of the iconic northwest species can’t be helped without killing some of its more aggressive cousins, the barred owl.

It’s part of a court-ordered plan to increase the spotted owl’s forest habitat.

National Parks Service Photo

With its delicate, bright-green leaves, it’s a beautiful plant to look at.

And its medicinal qualities are well-known, but it requires huge amounts of water and light to grow. 

And that’s just the start of the problems caused by marijuana that authorities have been discovering growing in national forests.

Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

Washington State already has some of the highest oil spill readiness standards in the country – if not in the world.

An update to those regulations is raising that bar even higher.

The tightening is in response to the catastrophic BP oil spill nearly two years ago in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The new law places new requirements on oil companies operating in Puget Sound or on the Columbia River.

Plans to upgrade a dilapidated old race track near Kent are sparking an environmental debate. The owners of Pacific Raceways say that to stay afloat, they badly need an expansion that would bring thousands of new jobs to the area. 

Neighbors are worried about impacts on surrounding wetlands and fish habitat, especially because they say special legislation King County is considering to facilitate the expansion may set a bad precedent.

Courtesy Washington State Department of Natural Resources

The state is adding 15,000 acres of protected land around the Nisqually Reach Wildlife Refuge, exempting it from commercial development of any kind.

All the land is under water. It’s the seventh and southern-most area in Puget Sound to be designated as an Aquatic Reserve. Signing of a new management plan takes place today at 1:30 p.m.

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.

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.

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU News

They’re known as ghost nets – old tangles of synthetic lines snagged on underwater rocks or reefs and left behind by fishermen as long as seventy years ago.   

A coalition out of Mount Vernon has removed thousands of them over the past decade.  There’s still work to be done, but they’re running out of funding. 

Since 2002, The Northwest Straights Initiative has removed nearly four thousand derelict fishing nets from shallow waters of Puget Sound. 

“Because they just don’t degrade. They can get torn apart by wave action, but they won’t degrade," says Northwest Straits Initiative Director, Ginny Broadhurst.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

(Updated at 11:49 a.m. with new photos)

This morning I’ll be up early, heading to Sandy Point Marina, near Bellingham, for a short field trip with the non-profit Northwest Straits.  They’re a non-partisan group that’s been removing derelict fishing gear from the waters of the region for the past decade. 

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