environment

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

President Obama formally unveiled his plan to cut power plant emissions — some two years in the making — calling it the "single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change."

This year was supposed to be one of the biggest returns in 40 years for the endangered Idaho sockeye salmon. But it’s not turning out that way. Only a fraction of these fish have survived their journey up the Columbia and Snake rivers. The biggest problem: warm waters. Now dam and fish managers and tribes are in a race against time to save the few remaining fish.

In the middle of a heat wave this month, Portland State University researchers Vivek Shandas and Jackson Voelkel drove across the city of Portland with a thermometer sticking out the window.

The thermometer was connected to a GPS unit. Together the two devices logged the temperature and location every second as the car moved along city streets. As they drove past the Portland International Airport, Shandas noted lots of asphalt and a near total lack of trees.

"This is one of the hottest places in the city," he said.

How Oregon Rivers Carried Millions Of Trees Into Production

Aug 2, 2015

Around the same time famed photographer Carelton Watkins first captured the Columbia River Gorge with his traveling darkroom, on the south fork of the Coos River in southwest Oregon a large dam helped fuel Oregon's burgeoning timber industry.

The Tioga Dam was the largest splash dam in the Northwest. It was the first of what would grow to become 230 splash dams throughout western Oregon.

Foss Maritime tugs pull the Polar Pioneer past downtown Seattle on the way to Terminal 5 on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

A lawsuit challenging the Port of Seattle’s lease of a terminal as a homeport for Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic oil-drilling fleet was rejected Friday by a King County Superior Court judge.

In the West, there aren’t a lot of black woman geologists who specialize in uranium deposits and groundwater. Zelma Maine Jackson landed far from her home state of South Carolina, but drilled into life in the West.

Aboard a ferry off the coast of Rhode Island, state and federal officials take a close look at a steel structure poking out of the ocean. It's the first foundation affixed to the seafloor for a five-turbine wind farm off the state's coast.

It's a contrast to what's happening off the coast of Massachusetts. Developer Cape Wind has spent more than 10 years and millions of dollars there on a massive wind farm that it may never build.

Stouts Creek Wildfire Expands Rapidly In Southern Oregon

Jul 31, 2015

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown invoked the state's Emergency Conflagration Act Thursday evening as the Stouts Creek Wildfire encroached on homes in Southwest Oregon.

The wildfire began Thursday afternoon and reached nearly 6,000 acres by the end of the day. The fire threatened about 50 homes 11 miles east of Canyonville in Douglas County. An additional 300 homes are at risk as hot and dry conditions are expected to fuel the blaze Friday.

Eli Sanders, Rob McKenna and Mayor Ed Murray participate in KUOW's 'Week in Review' in front of a live audience at the Vera Project on Fri. July 31, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

For the last stop on our summer tour, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray stopped by to say why he relented on a controversial affordable housing proposal. Plus, a new Tim Eyman initiative qualifies for the ballot, Russell Wilson stays a Seahawk and Bill Radke answers the question: "Should I be using less water?"

Featuring Radke,  The Stranger's Eli Sanders, former state attorney general Rob McKenna, Northwest News Network's Phyllis Fletcher, Seattle Times sportswriter Percy Allen and a happy crowd at The Vera Project at Seattle Center.

The Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker, Fennica, has left Portland after undergoing repairs at a local dry dock, but it wasn't an easy task.

Officials spent the afternoon removing environmental activists with Greenpeace USA who were hanging from Portland's St. Johns Bridge. Greenpeace and other activist groups oppose Shell's ongoing drilling efforts for oil in the Arctic.

Police and rescue officials spoke at a press conference after the protesters were removed.

Protesters dangling for two days from Portland's St. Johns Bridge kept a Shell Oil icebreaker at bay for more than 36 hours before it passed through en route to the Arctic.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups involved claimed their temporary blockade a success: they sent Shell a message and drew worldwide attention to their campaign to stop Arctic oil drilling and to wean the world from fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

But what does it really mean in the context of plans for offshore drilling in the Arctic?

This photo, taken last fall, is an indicator of things to come, according to scientists. The warm blob of water off the coast has conspired with low precipitation to amplify problems in Puget Sound. The result: more jellyfish.
Courtesy of Eyes Over Puget Sound, Washington Department of Ecology

Puget Sound is going through a lot of changes. And a trend we reported on earlier this year has accelerated: Salmon are losing while jellyfish are winning.

Update 5:59 p.m.: The Shell icebreaker, Fennica, has cleared the St. Johns Bridge and has moved past the protestor blockade to continue on the Willamette River.

Reporter Amelia Templeton was at the scene as the ship crossed under the bridge. Protesters weighed down the nearby docks, yelling "Stop the boat!" as the Fennica moved by. Templeton said the ship appeared so close to the protestors paddling nearby that they could have reached out and touched it as it passed.

Portland Mayor On Bridge Activists: 'Protests Are Helpful'

Jul 30, 2015

For more than 24 hours, protesters with the environmental group Greenpeace have suspended from ropes below Portland's St. Johns Bridge like spiders hanging by a thread, blocking the passage of the Fennica, an icebreaker that is key to Shell's Arctic oil exploration plans.

A judge in Alaska has ruled that Greenpeace will be fined $2,500 for each hour the protesters remain in place. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Portland Police Bureau have not made any attempts to remove them.

A standoff continued Thursday on the Willamette River between environmental group protesters and a multinational energy company in Portland. Protesters suspended from the St. Johns Bridge and in kayaks on the water essentially blocked the Shell icebreaker, Fennica, from leaving for oil exploration in the Arctic.

The Fennica moved north along the river with the U.S. Coast Guard enforcing a safety zone, petty officer George Degener said.

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