environment

Palm oil is in everything, from pizza dough and chocolate to laundry detergent and lipstick. Nongovernmental organizations blame it for contributing to assorted evils, from global warming to human rights abuses.

But in the past year, this complex global industry has changed, as consumers put pressure on producers to show that they're not destroying forests, killing rare animals, grabbing land or exploiting workers.

In Hawaii, a battle is going on over the future of a mountaintop. Native Hawaiians say it's sacred ground, while astronomers say it's the best place in the world to build a massive, 18-story telescope.

This is not simply a story of religion versus science. Activists consider the construction of a giant telescope on the island of Hawaii to be a desecration of their sacred land.

Five years ago, BP's out-of-control oil well deep in the Gulf of Mexico exploded. Eleven workers were killed on the Deepwater Horizon rig. But it was more than a deadly accident — the blast unleashed the nation's worst offshore environmental catastrophe.

In the spring and summer of 2010, oil gushed from the Macondo well for nearly three months. More than 3 million barrels of Louisiana light crude fouled beaches and wetlands from Texas to Florida, affecting wildlife and livelihoods.

Today, the spill's impacts linger.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee Friday significantly expanded a drought declaration due to dwindling snowpack.

Kayakers slide into the water as the Polar Pioneer approaches its anchorage in Port Angeles aboard the Blue Marlin on Friday.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

It was the kind of David-and-Goliath moment that Greenpeace was looking for: Kayakers paddling out in their tiny craft to meet a mammoth oil drilling rig pulling into Port Angeles.

Shell Oil’s Polar Pioneer arrived aboard the carrier Blue Marlin at dawn Friday, in preparation for inspection before it’s brought to Seattle over the objections of environmentalists.

An audacious proposal to revive the Columbia River’s historic Celilo Falls drew heavy flak when it was aired at the Oregon Legislature Thursday.

The Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer arrives off Port Angeles early Friday aboard the carrier Blue Marlin.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

A Shell Oil drilling rig at the center of environmental protests about oil exploration in the Arctic arrived off Port Angeles at dawn Friday on a trip that will eventually land it on the Seattle waterfront.

Shell Arctic Drilling Rig Expected In Port Angeles

Apr 16, 2015

Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, is expected to arrive Friday in Port Angeles, Washington.

Shell has just received the necessary federal permits to drill for oil in the Arctic and will be staging its fleet in Seattle, despite a lawsuit filed by environmental groups and an investigation launched by the Seattle City Council.

Activists have warned of a flotilla of kayaks that would extend a less-than-warm welcome to Shell when it arrives at the Port of Seattle.

Oil Refinery Could Be Built In Longview Or Elsewhere In The Northwest

Apr 16, 2015

An energy company says it's looking at several locations in Oregon and Washington as potential sites for what could be the West Coast’s first crude oil refinery in more than 25 years.

Riverside Energy Inc. CEO Louis J. Soumas said Wednesday his company has engaged in discussions with a variety of locations in the two states in its pursuit of a place to build such a facility.

Sewer Water Beer Wins Oregon Regulators' Approval

Apr 16, 2015

A wastewater treatment operator wants to give its recycled sewer water to a group of home brewers so they can turn it into beer.

On Wednesday, state environmental regulators approved the idea.

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously to allow the Hillsboro-based utility Clean Water Services to use recycled sewage for brewing beer.

Clean Water Services has an advanced treatment process that can turn sewage into drinking water.

A western gray whale has completed a nearly 14,000-mile journey from Sakhalin Island, Russia, to Baja California, Mexico — the longest mammal migration ever recorded.

In the early 1970s, scientists thought the western gray whale had gone extinct. Now researchers estimate about 150 individual whales remain.

In drought-stricken California, golf is often seen as a bad guy — it can be hard to defend watering acres of grass for fun when residents are being ordered to cut their usage and farmers are draining their wells.

But golf is a $6 billion industry in the state and employs nearly 130,000 workers, according to the California Golf Course Owners Association. So while the greens are staying green, some golf courses are saving every drop of water they can.

Refinery Proposed Last Year For Columbia River, Records Show

Apr 15, 2015

Washington's Port of Longview says it is in talks with an energy company that last year submitted plans for a crude oil refinery on the Columbia River.

Details of the company's planned refinery surfaced Wednesday through public records obtained and released by Columbia Riverkeeper.

Hut-to-hut or village-to-village trekking is a popular vacation pursuit in regions as diverse as Europe, New Zealand, the Himalayas and Vietnam.

Students at the Fiddleheads, an outdoor school at the Washington Park Arboretum.
Fiddleheads Family Nature School

Seattle is beginning to experiment with an unorthodox concept – outdoor preschool.

All day, all year round. Three- and 4-year-old kids would learn outside and in parks. It's more than recess – it's an outdoor classroom.

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