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Former Washington governor Mike Lowry, an unapologetic liberal who advocated for higher taxes and social programs, died Monday from complications related to a stroke. He was 78.

EarthFix is pleased to introduce terrestrial, a new environment-focused podcast from a journalist who’s been with us since the beginning.

Ashley Ahearn is the host of terrestrial, produced by KUOW, Puget Sound Public Radio, in Seattle. Before terrestrial, Ahearn was a founding member of the EarthFix reporting team, telling environmental stories of the Northwest since 2011 for public media audiences in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

When there is money left over from political campaigns, what do elected officials do with it? Records show that since Election Day more than a dozen Washington state lawmakers have dipped into leftover campaign cash for pay for everything from cellphones to meals out to travel.

And this “surplus campaign spending” gets little scrutiny.

A worker at the Washington Shoe Company in Kent, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

There are a lot of names for the the communities south of Seattle including Renton, Kent and Auburn. What name you use really depends on how you see this area - which happens to be the second-largest distribution zone on the West Coast, a place where recently-arrived immigrants get their start in Seattle, and where the Green River twists and turns. 

The spillway doors at the Howard Hanson Dam. A red mark on the left door indicates the highest water the dam ever saw, in 2009. This revealed weaknesses in the dam that have since been fixed, but storms could bring higher water someday.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The Green River hasn’t flooded in more than half a century.

It used to all the time. Every other year or so, the valley filled with water and turned into one long lake, from Auburn, Kent, and Renton up to Seattle.

Now the area holds the largest collection of warehouse and manufacturing jobs in the state, worth billions of dollars. Someday, it will probably be under water again.


A couple Kent farmers known as the Johnson brothers and an unidentified hired man stare down the photographer from a raft during a 1910 flood in what we today call The Green River Valley.
White River Valley Museum, Clark Collection

This is a story of a war between farmers. Farmers in Kent and Auburn were frustrated because their valley was constantly flooding. And that made it difficult to farm in their beautiful, very fertile valley.

That led those farmers to do some naughty things.


Red-light cameras in Oregon could soon be also nabbing drivers for speeding. The Oregon House could vote as soon as Monday on a bill that would allow cities to use the cameras to issue speeding tickets.

The Washington Soldiers Home has been ordered to take steps to protect it residents. The order by outside regulators follows a recent investigation that found “widespread deficiencies” at the nursing home for veterans.

The Washington Soldiers Home is a state-run facility that serves veterans, their spouses or widows and Gold Star parents.

One of the largest state workers unions rallied in front of the Oregon Capitol Friday. Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said budget-balancing discussions by Oregon lawmakers unfairly target public employees.

It’s Design Week in Portland! The week when all of the makers, the tallest and the smallest, get together to talk about the looks they love, the technology they’re using, and the newest concepts and products they're dreaming up. From streetwear to downtown Portland to sporting goods to candy, everything's on the drawing board.

Members of Oregon’s congressional delegation introduced a bipartisan bill Friday to help towns and cities prepare for serious railroad incidents.

The Community Protection and Preparedness Act would create a trust fund to help communities prepare for incidents involving flammable liquids like crude oil and ethanol.

Last summer, a Union Pacific train derailed and spilled thousands of gallons of crude in the small Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier, Oregon.

British Columbia’s government has taken the next step in a long running legal dispute with an Indian tribe in Washington state.

The case dates back to 2009 when Washington resident and defendant Rick Desautel knowingly hunted elk illegally in British Columbia.

soda pop
Flickr Photo/Mike Mozart (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/JwCQyB

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's proposed soda tax will now include diet beverages.

Murray's original plan only included sugary drinks and received pushback. He said Thursday that the addition of diet drinks comes out of a desire for equity.

Police officers pause next to a sign outside a restaurant as they observe a May Day anti-capitalism march, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Seattle.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

When you’re out marching on May Day in Seattle on Monday, remember how the tradition began: as an attempt to get workers an eight-hour day.

And then think about this: Some labor advocates say the eight-hour day is under attack in Congress.

A project that would export 44 million tons of coal a year from Longview, Washington, would raise the cancer risk for people living near rail lines, create traffic jams with its mile-long coal trains and increase global greenhouse gas emissions by 2 million tons.

The Millennium coal export project would be among the largest coal terminals in North America, and it would inevitably impact the environment and the surrounding community in Southwest Washington, according to a new report from state and county regulators.

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