Ashley Ahearn | KUOW News and Information

Ashley Ahearn

Environment Reporter

Year started with KUOW: 2011

Ashley Ahearn is KUOW’s award-winning environment reporter and the host of a new  national podcast on the environment, terrestrial. Each episode explores the choices we make in a world we have changed. 

Ashley has been covering the environment for NPR and member stations for more than a decade and you've probably heard her stories on Morning Edition, Marketplace, All Things Considered, The World and other national shows, as well as right here on KUOW in Seattle. 

She has a masters in science journalism from the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. In her spare time she rides motorcycles and snowboards and hikes in the Olympic and Cascade mountains with her husband and her ridiculously spoiled labradoodle. 

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The Navy conducts training and testing in a stretch of the Pacific roughly the size of Montana.

It wants to continue and expand its activities in these waters off the West Coast from Washington to Northern California. But first, the Navy must renew its permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The plan calls for detonating explosives, moving vessels, and deploying 700 more sonobuoys per year. And that's drawing criticism from environmentalists who say the increased use of sonar poses increased risk for whales and other marine mammals.

The Imperium Renewables biodiesel facility in Grays Harbor, Washington, uses canola and other plant oils grown in Washington and Canada to produce clean diesel.
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

HOQUIAM, Washington — Before he launched a biofuel company, John Plaza was a pilot for Northwest Airlines, where his job was balancing the fuel mix on long flights across the Pacific.  

LUMMI RESERVATION, Wash. -- The Lummi Nation issued a letter Monday to the U.S. government seeking to end the project's permitting process for a coal-shipping project encircled by their Puget Sound fishing grounds.

File photo of oil train tankers in a Portland, Ore. railyard.
EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

SEATTLE — For the past few years, a growing number of trains have been bringing “rolling pipelines” of oil from North Dakota to ports and refineries in the Pacific Northwest.

And in that time, the Washington and Oregon legislatures have failed to come up with the money to pay for the cost of responding to the increasing risk of oil spills in their states. That could change in 2015.

SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. -- The house was going to be modest, 1,300 square feet with a big porch looking out over acres of fields. Next to it would be a garage with a caretaker’s apartment over it.

“I’m kind of an old guy already,” Richard Fox said, standing in the pouring rain on his property and gesturing to the spot where he and his wife’s dream retirement home was to be built. A handful of drenched cows looked on, vaguely curious.

A coal mining operation near Gillette, Wyoming. Seattle billionaire Paul Allen is bankrolling a lawsuit over the way the federal government leases public land for coal mining.
KCTS9 Photo/Michael Werner

As the Seattle Seahawks eye another run at the Super Bowl, their owner Paul Allen has chosen to tackle a different challenge: climate change.

Instead of giving money to environmental groups, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft is picking up the tab for a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior, which oversees the leasing of public land to coal mining companies.

A photo taken November 29, 2014, in Speiden Channel, north of San Juan Island. J32 Rhapsody is in the lead, on the right. J32 Rhapsody was reported dead on Dec. 4, 2014.
Orca Network & Center for Whale Research / Melisa Pinnow

The bloated body of an orca washed up dead Thursday on Vancouver Island in British Columbia has been confirmed as one of the endangered southern resident killer whales of Puget Sound.

The whale has been identified as an 18 year-old female member of the J pod known as j-32 or Rhapsody.

Northwest tribes took part in a national gathering Wednesday for native leaders in Washington, D.C., where top federal officials told them they stand together in opposing climate change and supporting treaty rights.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was among those who addressed the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference.

"There’s a saying: 'we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.'" she said. "So that’s what climate change is all about. We have an earth that is in trouble."

Jewell’s comments were met with applause.

The EPA's final decision will cost the responsible parties $342 million and will cover 177 acres of the lower Duwamish River. 960,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment will be dredged from the bottom of the river, and 24 acres will be capped with clean sediment to lock away contaminants below the surface of the riverbed.

Washington state is home to more glaciers than any other state in the lower 48, and they're receding faster than ever before. That's a problem for the Pacific Northwest, where glaciers are crucial for drinking water, hydropower generation and salmon survival.

Earthfix Photo/Ryan Hashert

NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK, Wash. — Jon Riedel’s white hair and light blue eyes match the icy tint of the landscape he’s studied for more than 30 years.

He moved to Washington soon after finishing his PhD at the University of Wisconsin because he says the glaciers of the Northwest are still writing the landscape, still carving out curves and valleys.

Smoke stacks during a night scene in Tacoma, Wash.
Flickr Photo/Tom Collins (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Environmentalists spent more than $1.5 million in Oregon and Washington in bids to secure Democratic majorities in state legislatures — majorities they wanted for approving clean-fuel standards and a tax on carbon emissions.

The plan worked in Oregon. It didn’t in Washington.

EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Environmental groups are among the biggest spenders in this year’s state elections in Washington and Oregon, pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into campaigns to ensure Democratic statehouse control.

We Are All To Blame For The Oso Slide

Sep 21, 2014
Return to Oso
KCTS Photo/Katie Campbell

As a geomorphologist, Dan Miller has extensively studied the land formations and landslide history of the Stillaguamish Valley and Steelhead Haven. Miller and other scientists knew it to be a hazardous place, long before the devastating slide occurred. 

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

The waters of the Elwha River are clear right now, for a change.

For nearly three years, this glacier-fed river on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula has been sluicing millions of tons of sediment that were held back for a century by a pair of dams.

Ross Reynolds talks with KUOW reporter Ashley Ahearn about what the denial of a key permit for a coal terminal in Oregon means for Washington state.

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Three tanker cars in an oil train from North Dakota derailed at a rail yard in Seattle early Thursday, but BNSF Railway says none of the oil spilled.

Marcie Sillman speaks with KUOW reporter Ashley Ahearn about the specifics of Governor Jay Inslee's long-awaited proposal for how to improve water quality in Washington.

EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

Curtis Rookaird thinks BNSF Railway fired him because he took the time to test his train’s brakes.

The rail yard in Blaine, Washington, was on heightened security that day, he remembers, because of the 2010 Winter Olympics underway just across border in Vancouver, B.C.

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

KUOW listener Nancy Beaudet had a question: Why are there so few mosquitos in Seattle?

As part of our Local Wonder series, we sent our environmental reporter, Ashley Ahearn, onto the muddy trails of the Washington Park Arboretum to find out why skeeters don’t plague Seattle summers.

SEATTLE — The Environmental Protection Agency's new rules requiring states to cut carbon emissions from power plants are likely to change the energy landscape in Northwest states, even though they have far fewer coal-fired power plants than most of the U.S.

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

Barbara Ingram furrows her brow as she peers into a patch of woods up the road from her house. Developers have had their eyes on this place, too.

Flickr Photo/goneforawander

New research from the University of Washington and other institutions provides detailed predictions for the collapse of an ice shelf in West Antarctica.

EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

Teacher Billie Lane’s portable is a world apart from other classrooms at her school.

Courtesy of Nina Bednarsek

Tiny, delicate marine snails called pteropods are a key part of the marine food web. New research indicates they are dissolving to a greater extent than previously thought because of ocean acidification.

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

The Oso mudslide drew hundreds of volunteers to the towns of Arlington and Darrington, Wash.

Mixed in among those responders were 50 young people in the Washington Conservation Corps between the ages of 18 and 25.

EarthFix Photo/Ashley Ahearn

HOQUIAM, Wash. — More than 100 people gathered at the local high school Thursday night with questions and concerns about proposals to build train-to-ship oil terminals in their community.

Courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey/John Pritz

Some bad news for backcountry in the West: Some of the fish in the region’s wild alpine lakes contain unsafe levels of mercury, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

The landslide in Oso, Wash., served as a devastating reminder of one fact of life in the Northwest: landslides happen.

In some places, it’s a risk people have learned to live with — places like the Mt. Index River Sites, a loose cluster of homes along the Skykomish River northeast of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains.

Courtesy of Bonnie Brown

Bonnie Brown still has photos to remind her of the cabin her parents built in the 1970s near the Stillaguamish River. It was the kind of place that kids dream of.

“It was just a very beautiful place,” she said. “With beaver ponds and streams and meadows and trails through the wood.”

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