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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Ashley Ahearn

President Obama is set to announce the creation of several new national monuments on Monday. One of them will be in Washington’s San Juan Islands.

Flickr/masmediaspace

The Northwest is famous for its steady gray drizzle. But for violent storms and downpours? Not so much. That might be changing. Newly published research finds evidence that rain is coming in more intense bursts in one Northwest location.

Katie Campbell

There are five proposed coal export terminals under consideration in Washington and Oregon. They would be built to transfer coal off of trains from Wyoming and Montana mines and on to ships bound for Asia. Some coal dust will escape along the journey from mines to terminals. In the second part of our series, Ashley Ahearn looks at the environmental impacts of coal dust.

Katie Campbell

With five coal export terminals under consideration in Washington and Oregon, Northwest residents are grappling for the first time with issues that are old hat in coal states like West Virginia and Kentucky. One of those issues: coal dust. How much of it will escape along the journey from mines in Wyoming and Montana to proposed export terminals on the West Coast? And what might that dust mean for public health?

Flickr/Oceiana

Seattle and Portland are among the best cities to dine on seafood if you want the salmon, sole or halibut you order to actually be salmon, sole or halibut. The two Northwest cities emerged from a national report Thursday with some of the lowest rates of “fish fraud” in the country.

According to the research project by the marine conservation group, Oceana, 33 percent of the 1,215 samples of fish it had analyzed were not actually the fish that they were labeled as by the sushi bars, restaurants and retail outlets selling them.

Ashley Ahearn

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he wants to defeat climate change. Rather than taxing carbon or pursuing a cap-and-trade system to restrict the emission of greenhouse gases, the Democratic state executive wants more clean energy research and development.

salmon swimming in a river
University of Washington Photo/Tom Quinn

Salmon travel thousands of miles out to the open ocean to feed and mature. Then after a few years they head home, back to the exact river where they hatched to spawn the next generation.

Scientists don’t fully understand how the fish find their way back, but a new study found that salmon could be determining their routes home by shifts in the earth's magnetic field.

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Washington’s coal export terminal proposals are winning the battle for public opinion, a new survey finds. It shows half the state’s residents supporting coal exports and one-third opposed — but the results are nuanced.

Earthfix

Snohomish County Public Utility District wants to put two turbines 150 feet below the waves near Whidbey Island. The pilot project would generate enough power for about 20 homes annually. The new report from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says that the project will not harm the environment.

It's about 25 degrees on a clear Saturday morning when Gregg Treinish — executive director of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, a nonprofit that puts volunteers to work gathering data for scientists around the world — gathers a small group of outdoor adventurers around him near the Duckabush River in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.

Michael Murray

The American marten is a small elusive member of the weasel family. People trap them and sell their pelts on the fur market where they’re known as “sable.” Their numbers are healthy across places like Canada and northern parts of the US, but scientists worry that marten populations have severely declined in coastal mountain ranges -- like the Olympic National Forest -- but they don’t know for sure. A group of volunteers is working with scientists to help monitor the martens and gather data to help determine their future.

New report suggest flooding by 2050
Port of Seattle

City officials predict that by 2050 parts of Seattle will be under water at high tide as global sea levels rise. At a press conference held Monday on the edge of Elliott Bay near downtown Seattle, the City Council announced a new plan to take action on climate change.

Portland General Electric

Keeping up with transportation infrastructure isn’t cheap. The Washington State Transportation Commission estimates that in the next 20 years around 200 billion dollars needs to be put towards the maintenance of roads, ferries and more. But how to pay for that? Some are putting forward the idea of a tax on carbon emissions.

Read the whole story on KUOW’s Earthfix

Water
Flickr photo/Ibrahim Areef

The Clean Water Act turned 40 this year. What has it accomplished? Where would we be without it? And what will the next 40 years look like for clean water in this country? Weekday presents a special broadcast produced by KUOW's EarthFix and Living On Earth from Public Radio International.

Michael Werner

More than 2,000 people showed up Thursday to tell regulators what they think should be considered in the environmental review of a proposed coal export terminal near Bellingham, Wash. If built, it could be the largest such facility on the West Coast.

Ashley Ahearn

Exporting coal via the Northwest has become an issue so divisive that old friendships and alliances strain under the pressure. No matter how you feel about climate change or construction jobs or any number of issues bound to the five coal export terminals under consideration around the Northwest, chances are you know someone who feels differently about the issue than you do.

Katie Campbell

As regulators in the region weigh the potential impacts of trains full of coal moving along the Columbia River and the shores of Puget Sound, trainloads of oil are quietly on the move. There are billions of barrels of oil in the Bakken shale formation – located in North Dakota and Montana mainly. And some of that oil is now making its way to refineries in Puget Sound.

Katie Campbell

Rescuing shellfish from the rising acidity in Puget Sound will require a wide-ranging response: everything from curbing greenhouse gases and controlling water pollution to growing more seaweed and putting restaurant-discarded oyster shells into shallow bays. Those are among the recommendations in a long-awaited report on ocean acidification that was delivered today to Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire by a blue-ribbon panel.

Government agencies have begun the environmental review process for the largest proposed coal export terminal in the Northwest. It would be located near Bellingham, Washington.

If it’s built, the Gateway Pacific Terminal would draw trains from across the region, carrying coal from Wyoming and Montana to be exported to Asia, and those trains would move through Seattle. That would lead to more traffic, according to a new report from the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Read the full story on KUOW's Earthfix

Air pollution from the major shipping ports in Puget Sound has decreased, according to a new report released Tuesday. The 300-page report compared emissions of diesel particulates, greenhouse gases and other air pollutants in five Puget Sound ports from 2005 to 2011. Overall, emissions have gone down.

KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

The University of Washington got its launch Wednesday as the country's biggest testing ground for smart grid technology.

Smart grid is a catch-all term for something power providers are still trying to figure out — namely, how do you use modern technology, like the Internet, to manage how much power is flowing through the grid at any given time?

Read the full story on KUOW's EarthFix

Diver exploring outfall drain in Puget Sound
OPB Photo/Michael Bendixen

The Clean Water Act took effect 40 years ago Thursday. In 1972, stormwater pollution was nowhere near a top priority. Today, it’s taken the lead as the top water contaminator. How bad is it? Puget Sound diver Laura James takes us where nobody wants to go — inside a stormwater outfall — to get an upclose look.

Read the full story on KUOW's EarthFix

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