environment

Washington state lawmakers are considering a bill that paves the way for a partial closure of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant in Montana.

In the face of mounting environmental regulations, Puget Sound Energy wants to develop a plan to close two of Colstrip's four coal units – a move that could reduce the amount of coal-produced electricity used by Washington consumers.

The Washington utility is one of six owners of the overall plant, but co-owns units 1 and 2 with just one other company, Talen Energy.

Separation of church and state? When it comes to fighting food waste, the U.S. government is looking to partner up with the faithful.

To help you learn more about our state animal, Think Out Loud compiled this list after talking to Frances Backhouse, author of "Once They Were Hats: In Search of the Mighty Beaver."

BHA refuses to allow those who want to steal your public lands get away with this. It's time to restore law and order, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. #keepitpublic

A group of Oregon sportsmen are attempting to drum up a formal opposition to the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon.

Activist Michael Lapointe at the BNSF Railway blockade in September 2014.
Rising Tide Seattle

Five climate change activists who blocked an oil train in Everett were convicted Friday of trespassing – but the jury gave environmentalists something to celebrate anyway.

A proposed summertime ban on consumer fireworks is firing people up at the Washington state Capitol. It’s just one of many ideas being floated in Northwest statehouses to avoid a repeat of last summer's bad wildfire season.

Citing concerns over pricing and pollution, the Obama administration on Friday unveiled a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. The change won't affect existing leases, which generated nearly $1.3 billion for the government last year.

The Department of the Interior says it wants to make sure the money it's charging for coal leases takes into account both market prices and what's often called the "social costs" of coal — its impact on climate change and public health.

The agency says federal lands account for roughly 40 percent of all U.S. coal production.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Northwest coastal tribes have counted on salmon and herring for thousands of years to fill their nets and fuel their cultures. That could change in just a few decades as warmer waters drive fish north, according to a study out this week from the University of British Columbia.

Warm ocean temps could be starving Alaskan seabirds

Jan 14, 2016
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Nigel Roddis/Reuters 

An estimated 8,000 black and white seabirds, called murres, were found dead on a beach in Alaska earlier this month.

Their bodies were found floating in the surf and washed ashore in the Prince William Sound community of Whittier. Wildlife ecologist Dan Grear said this is the biggest die off of the common murre in Alaska this season, but not the first.  

"Carcasses started to be noticed this fall in Alaska, and as the winter has progressed into December and early January, observers ... have started to find thousands of dead murres on specific beaches,” Grear said.

For federal wildlife enforcement officers, time on the job means a lot of time alone, wandering remote areas. But one wildlife officer now has a new companion to keep him company on the trail: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's very first enforcement dog in the Northwest.

The first thing you might notice about the Ukkie is he that speaks Dutch.

“His name is actually Dutch slang for little one. He’s a little bit on the smaller side for a Belgian Malinois,” says officer Josh Hindman.

An Oregon county is suing the state over forestry money. Commissioners from Linn County, located between Salem and Eugene, announced the $1.4 billion class-action lawsuit Wednesday at a press conference at the state Capitol.

Early this year, piles of deep snow drifted into Burns, Oregon, and so did the outsiders and their money. Gas stations, cafes and hotels are seeing packed crowds in normally sleepy winter.

For businesses, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation is a boom. After Christmas in Burns, some local businesses just shutter for months until spring. Others, like the America’s Best Value Inn usually lay off most of their staff.

Maid Liz Houer said she usually doesn’t have enough work this time of year to keep on.

U.S. oil dropped below $30 a barrel during trading Tuesday. That’s the lowest price since December 2003.

The dip in price happened on the same day Washington state held a public hearing about a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

Oil was more than $100 per barrel when the Vancouver Energy Project was first announced back in the summer of 2013.

Still, backers of the oil terminal said the joint venture, between oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries, is insulated from current market conditions.

Some Democrats in the Washington House want the state to take a look at what it could do to cut back on light pollution.

'West Coast' by artist Ballookey Klugeypop
Flickr Photo/Ballookey Klugeypop (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1ZYX0lF

Bill Radke talks to state climatologist Nick Bond about how El Nino is affecting winter weather across the state and what it means for the blob, the large mass of warm water off Washington's coast. 

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