Proposals to make the Northwest a major coal exporting region have made for a familiar debate over the potential impacts on people and the environment. Will it help the economy? What will coal dust do to the air we breathe? Will our rivers and marine waters be threatened?
Here’s another question: Will coal trains harm the wetlands of the Pacific Northwest?
So far, wetlands have not been a central part of the public debate over coal exports. But concern over these ecologically sensitive areas are familiar to the federal regulators who will decide whether to permit coal export terminals.
In fact, according to government documents obtained by EarthFix, the Army Corps of Engineers has already studied the issue. And in at least one instance, it’s reached a conclusion:
David Hyde went to visit the Vashon-Maury Island Basin steward for King County, Greg Rabourn, who helps restore Puget Sound shorelines one beach at a time. Rabourn led Hyde on a tour of the Dockton shoreline, where he and his team have been removing creosote pilings, bulkheads and decades of fill.
The site was originally a salt marsh. Then, a sawmill came in, and covered the marsh with log ends. Later came fill dirt, bricks from a nearby factory, and boulders. Now, all that stuff has been scraped away revealing spongy peat -- a gift from that long-buried marsh. Rabourn says he suspects there are dormant seeds hiding in that peat that could now sprout after seeing sunlight for the first time in a century.
Rabourn is a native plant expert and has been a frequent guest of KUOW as part of the Greendays panel.
This January, changes in federal law made it illegal to unlock cell phones. This was great news for phone companies that like people to be locked into one carrier but bad news for the environment. Ross Reynolds talked with Kiera Butler, senior editor at Mother Jones, about locked phones and e-waste.
Japanese officials are still battling radioactive groundwater that is leaking as a result of the Fukushima Nuclear plant meltdown triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The latest effort to block contaminated water from leaking into the Pacific Ocean is a $470 million ice wall. How do you build an ice wall and how does it work? Larry Applegate, the president of Seattle-based firm SoilFreeze, a company that creates frozen walls and tunnels, explains the technology to Marcie Sillman.
Glaciers in the Alps of Europe pose a scientific mystery. They started melting rapidly back in the 1860s. In a span of about 50 years, some of the biggest glaciers had retreated more than half a mile.
But nobody could explain the glacier's rapid decline. Now, a new study from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory uncovers a possible clue to why the glaciers melted before temperatures started rising: Soot from the Industrial Revolution could have heated up the ice.
The pink salmon run is strong this year. That's presented a challenge to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for moving returning salmon in the White River around the Buckley and Mud Mountain dams.
On Thursday morning Shell Oil will be meeting with officials from a county in Washington state to talk about plans to build a rail extension to deliver oil from North Dakota to its refinery near Puget Sound.
Isabella Rossellini became famous for high-fashion modeling and for her acting roles in over 60 films and television shows. But she also makes films about sex. Specifically, the sex lives of animals. From the elephant seal to the little anchovy — all erotic encounters are on the table. Isabella Rossellini joined us back in 2009.
"All children are born artists. The problem is to remain artists as we grow up," says Sir Ken Robinson, an international expert on creativity. School, he says, encourages us to become good workers, not creative thinkers. So how do we fix it? Marcie Sillman talked with Sir Robinson in 2009 about his book, "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything," and the challenges of teaching creativity.
A Conversation With "Game Of Thrones" Author George R.R. Martin
With HBO's "Game of Thrones," George R.R. Martin's world of Westeros is seducing TV viewers much as it captured readers. Martin began writing science fiction stories in the 1970s, and early on his stories were nominated for awards. Raised in a housing project in New Jersey, he used to write monster tales for the neighborhood kids. Steve Scher talked with George Martin in 2012.
Leaders on salmon research and recovery from the United States and Canada came together in Seattle Wednesday to announce a new project.
It’s called the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, and it’s meant to address a major question: Why aren’t salmon and steelhead in Washington and Canadian waters recovering, despite the millions of dollars that have been spent on research and habitat restoration?
“We have a fairly clear idea of what salmon need and what they’re doing in the freshwater environment. We know considerably less about the marine systems,” said Jacques White, executive director of Long Live The Kings. The Seattle-based nonprofit is coordinating the effort along with the Pacific Salmon Foundation in B.C.
White says the project will focus on answering questions about what’s happening to salmon and steelhead when they leave the freshwater rivers and enter Washington’s Puget Sound and British Columbia’s Georgia Strait.
Of all the creatures in the sea, one of the most majestic and mysterious is the whale shark. It's the biggest shark there is, 30 feet or more in length and weighing in at around 10 tons.
Among the mysteries is where this mighty fish migrates and where it gives birth. Now scientists have completed the biggest study ever of whale sharks, and they think they have some answers to those questions.
But McGinn did not release the report to the public until The Seattle Times filed a public records request. Then the mayor posted the study to his blog on Friday afternoon, within nine minutes of giving a copy of the report to The Seattle Times.
When asked about the delay on the July 10 report, McGinn told EarthFix and KUOW, “That wasn’t the final because my staff and others provided comments to them and they made substantial revisions after that.”