environment | KUOW News and Information

environment

Challenging The Idea That Electric Vehicles Are For The Rich

23 hours ago

Poor people spend more of their income on gas and transportation and their neighborhoods often are more exposed to air pollution.

At the EV Roadmap Conference in Portland Tuesday, experts discussed how electric cars could help on both fronts.

The national conference drew more than 600 people to Portland to discuss all kinds of issues related to expanding the use of electric vehicles, from financing more charging stations to the possibility of self-charging autonomous electric cars.

Steve and Sandy Swanson were in a festive mood. It was an early December day and their house was ready for Christmas.

“We already had our Christmas tree up,” Swanson remembers. “The house looked beautiful.”

But, then, a representative of the Navy knocked on the door of their home on top of a ridge on Whidbey Island,

“She walked in, and she seemed genuinely moved by the bad news she was going to have to tell us,” Swanson says.

Washington state officials say people in Eastern Washington need to hunker down for a likely dust storm and possible wildfire conditions Tuesday night.

You've heard the one about it being so hot you can fry an egg on a sidewalk, well how about it being hot enough to ground a jet?

That was the case in Phoenix on Tuesday, where temperatures were forecast to climb as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

A federal judge will allow the Trump administration to complete its review of national monuments before deciding how to move forward with a lawsuit involving the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Two timber companies in southern Oregon have filed a lawsuit against the expansion, arguing the enlarged Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is a violation of presidential authority and could hamper their logging operations.

Kenny Wayne Gunner plays guitar in downtown Bremerton at lunch time
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Earlier this year, the Navy scraped the hull of the U.S.S. Independence to prepare it for dismantlement. That likely released heavy metals into the waters of Puget Sound, which is bad for salmon and orcas. The Navy didn’t get a permit for the work, so environmental groups sued this week.

But in Bremerton? It's going to take more than that to shake this town's love of the Navy.


Millions of tubular sea creatures called pyrosomes have taken over the Pacific Ocean in an unprecedented bloom that has scientists baffled.

These bumpy, translucent organisms look like sea cucumbers that range in size from six inches to more than two feet long. But they’re actually made up of hundreds of tiny animals knit together with tissue into a filter-feeding cylinder.

Wildfire Smoke Pollution Is Worse Than We Thought

Jun 16, 2017

All that black smoke you see floating up from a wildfire — it’s full of small particles that are bad for your lungs and heart.

It turns out, the small particles are a lot worse than researchers previously thought. A new study found there are three times as much pollution in wildfire smoke plumes than predicted from earlier estimates.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
WH.gov

President Donald Trump's proposal to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency faced a tough crowd Thursday.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had come to Congress to sell the budget.

Kwiaht

The Bureau of Land Management will not allow an archaeological dig at Iceberg Point in the San Juan Islands this summer after officials got an earful from residents concerned about possible impacts to the popular area.

In two weeks, thousands of peace-loving, free-spirited campers will descend on Oregon for the 2017 Rainbow Gathering in the Malheur National Forest.

The annual summer event attracts hippie types and wanderers from across the nation.

Rainbow members announced Thursday on social media that the July 1–7 gathering will be in a large field at Flagtail Creek, about 20 miles northwest of the tiny town of Seneca, Oregon, off Highway 395.

Seabirds Disappear In The Midst Of Plans To Shoot Them

Jun 15, 2017

For the second year in a row, thousands of cormorants have vacated their nesting grounds at the mouth of the Columbia River, derailing a plan to shoot and kill the seabirds to protect fish.

East Sand Island is usually packed with around 15,000 nesting cormorants this time of year; but right now there are none – just a handful of abandoned nests and broken eggs.

Cell service in Paradise?

Jun 15, 2017
View of Mt. Rainier from the Paradise parking lot.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

"Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness," that's what the famous naturalist John Muir said. Sounds like Muir would not want his cell phone to work at Mount Rainier National Park.

But the park service wants to know what you think about a proposal to add cell service at Mount Rainier's Paradise Visitors Center. Public comment is open now.

KUOW producer Matt Martin explains to host Bill Radke about what people visiting Paradise think about the proposal. 

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration failed to follow proper environmental procedures when it granted approval to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project.

It's a legal victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmentalists, who protested for months against the pipeline. Oil started flowing through it earlier this month. The tribe fears that the pipeline, which crosses the Missouri River just upstream of its reservation, could contaminate its drinking water and sacred lands.

Northwest leaders are moving ahead with climate change discussions abandoned by the federal government. The U.S. withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord this month.

Bill Radke talks with Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, about climate change and what he perceives to be exaggeration on the environmental left.

Mass says he believes the environmental left is trying to boost social justice by connecting it to global warming and that some things happening today are normal, natural events that have no connection to man-made climate change.

He also says there is a chance for a bipartisan approach to address climate change, but there must be a greater focus on reasoned debate. 

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Bill Radke talks to Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien about why he sponsored a resolution saying Seattle will uphold the Paris Climate Agreement and how city leaders can get the city to reduce its carbon footprint. 

Microsoft is trying to put the brakes on its greenhouse gas emissions.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

It’s rush hour in Wallingford, and commuters are stepping off a bus, closing up their laptops and heading into the evening sun. It’s not public transit. It’s a Microsoft Connector bus.

The Columbia River Gorge Commission hears an appeal Tuesday from Union Pacific Railroad on a proposed track expansion near Mosier, Oregon.

The proposed five-mile stretch would pass through the site of last year’s oil train derailment that spilled 40,000 gallons of crude oil and contaminated the town’s groundwater.

Micah White moved to Nehalem, Oregon, a few years ago and later ran for mayor. He wanted to test a revolutionary theory: that progressives need to seize control of the country via the democratic process and run for local office in small communities.
Flickr Photo/Internaz https://flic.kr/p/goMEa8 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

It’s a radical idea — that protest as we know it is broken. And a lot of people disagreed with Micah White when he first started talking about it, but he believes it’s time for activists to try something else. 

Washington's Largest Solar Project Coming To Tri-Cities

Jun 12, 2017

The Tri-Cities could soon be home to the largest utility-scale solar power project in Washington. A French company will develop the project on land that used to be part of the Hanford nuclear reservation.

The company, Neoen, is hoping to build a 20-megawatt solar project in the desert just north of Richland.

Washington state regulators approved two permits Thursday for a proposed plant that would make and export methanol along the Columbia River in Kalama.

More than 100 people testified before the Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council in Vancouver Wednesday. It was one of the last opportunities for the public to sound off on a proposed oil terminal there.

The council heard more than seven hours of testimony from both critics and supporters of a controversial plan to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver.

The Washington Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision Thursday in a ruling that suggests the Port of Vancouver violated public meetings law while negotiating a lease for an oil terminal.

The court largely sided with environmental groups who argued the port commissioners violated the public meetings law by excluding the public from deliberations about the controversial Tesoro-Savage oil terminal lease.

A years-in-the-making plan to protect sage grouse from extinction is being reconsidered. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is bringing the plan, which took years to devise, back to the drawing table.

Zinke announced Wednesday the creation of a review team to reevaluate the state and federal sage grouse plans. He wants future efforts to highlight innovative conservation strategies and give more control to the 11 Western states that make up sage grouse habitat.

Fire Managers Declare Start To Fire Season In Oregon

Jun 7, 2017

The Oregon Department of Forestry says wildfire season has officially begun in four regions of the state.

Mike Shaw is the district forester for ODF’s Central Oregon district. He said this year’s heavy snowpack made for a slightly later-than-usual start to the season.

“As the snowpack melts and recedes to higher elevation, the lower- and mid-elevation ground becomes available to burn, provided we don’t get much spring rain,” Shaw said.

Neil Shook was relaxing at home in Woodworth, N.D., on a Saturday afternoon just over a week ago.

"My wife was outside and she yelled at me to come outside and take a look at this," he recalls.

A massive brown cloud covered the horizon to the west. It was a dust storm — although Shook, who's a scientist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, doesn't like to call it dust. "I like to refer to it as soil, because that's basically what it is," he says. "We saw this huge soil cloud moving from west to east across the landscape."

In the wake of last week’s Trump administration announcement that the United States will pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, states are stepping up to fill the void. Washington announced a partnership with California and New York to form the U.S. Climate Alliance. Within days, Oregon and several other states signed on.

What is this U.S. Climate Alliance?

On the ferry ride from Washington to British Columbia ten activists sang songs they’d written about the water surrounding them: the Salish Sea.

They were crossing the international border for a combination march and ferry ride that would take them from Victoria to Vancouver. Their goal was to protest the expansion of a Canadian oil pipeline.

The United States is stepping away from the Paris Climate Agreement, but the consequences of climate change will be more difficult to leave behind. Take ocean acidification, a major emerging threat to West Coast fisheries.

Researchers at Oregon State University have recorded some of the highest levels of ocean acidification in the world – and they exist right off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

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