environment | KUOW News and Information

environment

Highway sign on a road entering the Hanford Site
Wikipedia Photo/Ellery (CC BY SA 3.0)/http://bit.ly/1LnhFqH

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Northwest News Network reporter Anna King about the continued problem of cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Eastern Washington. The topic was in the news because John Oliver talked about the contaminated site on his satirical HBO show. 

Aboard fishing vessel Marathon, Nathan Cultee, right, and Nicholas Cooke, left, unload 16 farm-raised Atlantic salmon into a container after a day of fishing on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at Home Port Seafood in Bellingham.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

It was a convenient explanation.


Jeannie Yandel talks to Ron Warren, head of the fish program for the Washington State Fish and Wildlife Department, about non-native salmon swimming in Washington water after they escaped from pens at a fish farm off the coast of Cypress Island near Anacortes.  

Brent Deppe is taking me on a tour of the farm supply business, called Key Cooperative, that he helps to manage in Grinnell, Iowa. We step though the back door of one warehouse, and our view of the sky is blocked by a gigantic round storage tank, painted white.

"This is the liquid nitrogen tank," Deppe explains. "It's a million-and-a-half gallon tank."

Nitrogen is the essential ingredient for growing corn and most other crops. Farmers around here spread it on their fields by the truckload.

Washington Department of Natural Resources

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has made a name for himself this year by battling the Trump administration in court. Now he wants to take on tribal governments at the U.S. Supreme Court over salmon.

Spectators around the country are gearing up, eclipse glasses at the ready, for the solar eclipse on Monday. But another group — perhaps more anxious than eager — is preparing as well: the people who run California's electric grid.

California is home to almost half of all the solar power in the country. So even a partial loss of the sun will mean a major dip in the energy supply.

As a substitute for coveted elephant ivory, mammoth tusks can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. A rush is underway to dig them out of the frozen earth in Siberia and sell them, mostly to China. The hunt is making millionaires of some men living in this impoverished region — but it's also illegal.

Photographer Amos Chapple followed a group of tusk hunters in Siberia on assignment for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He recalled his three-week journey with NPR's Ailsa Chang.

A new study may prompt hand wringing among you tuna poke and sushi lovers. When it comes to pollutant levels, researchers now say where your tuna was caught matters.

Mountain Goats are not native to the Olympic Peninsula. The Parks Service is deciding how to manage the population.
Flickr Photo/ld_germain (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/LM9e5

Bill Radke speaks with Rob Smith, the Northwest regional director of the National Parks Conservation Association, about the Olympic National Park's plan to either kill or relocate the estimated 625 non-native mountain goats in the park. The goats are seen as a hassle for hikers and a threat to native plant and animal life.

We also hear from Rachel Bjork, a board member with Northwest Animal Rights Network, about why she thinks the animals shouldn't be killed or moved. 

The National Parks Service will be taking public comment until September 26. You can fill out the survey at their site.

The time is almost here. On the morning of Monday, Aug. 21, many in America will collectively raise their heads to the sky to witness the first total solar eclipse in the region in 38 years. This time around, Oregon is ground zero and the state is preparing for a phenomenon that has been embraced by people from all over the world. Here are some key things to know before the solar eclipse completely covers our lives.

A task force is recommending changes that could loosen protections for the greater sage grouse, a Western bird species renowned for its elaborate mating dance.

The report comes out of a review by the Trump administration of a massive Obama-era conservation plan for the bird which is imperiled by loss of habitat.

The administration says the revisions are aimed at giving states more flexibility. But critics argue that the changes favor mining and petroleum companies and could hurt the bird's long-term prospects.

Sunset from Gas Works Park, Seattle, August 3, 2017.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

There are more than 20 wildfires burning in British Columbia right now, but that’s just one reason why the air in Seattle is junk right now.

It has become a rite of summer. Every year, a "dead zone" appears in the Gulf of Mexico. It's an area where water doesn't have enough oxygen for fish to survive. And every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissions scientists to venture out into the Gulf to measure it.

Winds from the north and northeast have carried wildfire smoke from British Columbia over Washington and Oregon.

“We didn’t expect it to go that far so quickly,” says Ranil Dhammapala, with the Washington State Department of Ecology. “It’s pretty much blanketed the whole state.”

And forecasts predict smoke will keep coming and continue to blanket Washington and Oregon throughout the weekend. In eastern Washington, the winds will shift and bring smoke from Montana. And, in western Washington and Oregon, the winds will bring back smoke that’s drifted over the Pacific.

As a climate change activist, former Vice President Al Gore is used to speaking in front of both hostile and friendly audiences. But there is one individual he has all but given up on.

"I have no illusions about the possibility of changing Donald Trump's mind," Gore says. "I think he has made it abundantly clear that he's throwing his lot in with the climate deniers."

Rising carbon dioxide levels could have an unexpected side effect on food crops: a decrease in key nutrients. And this could put more people at risk of malnutrition.

In conversation with Sally Jewell | terrestrial

Aug 1, 2017
KUOW Graphic/Lisa Wang

Sally Jewell is back home in the Pacific Northwest after a tour of duty as the Secretary of the Interior under President Barack Obama.

She'll sit down with terrestrial host Ashley Ahearn to talk about her time in the Obama Administration, which included the fight at Standing Rock over Native American rights,  the Bundy occupation of the Malheur Widlife Refuge and other hot topics. 

When a massive tsunami hit the northeast coast of Japan in 2011, waves of water overtopped sea walls, swallowed buildings and surged higher than anticipated. One thing those images prompted was a reexamination of the tsunami risk in the Pacific Northwest.

Coming Soon To Eastern Washington: Tree-Free Paper Pulp

Jul 28, 2017

A company in eastern Washington is developing a new way to make paper pulp without trees. The mill will instead use a source abundant to the area: straw.

If Northwest fish were stand-up comics, the salmon would be the headliner. And the fish that gets “no respect” would be the lamprey, an eel-like creature that has been plying the Northwest’s rivers for 400 million years. 

Ellie and Emma are toddlers. They spend a lot of time with their dad Tim Billo in Seward Park, a fragment of old-growth forest on the edge of Lake Washington. Billo’s a lecturer at the University of Washington’s College of the Environment.

The grove Billo and his daughters are exploring today used to have sword ferns that had grown taller than Ellie and Emma. But, now, the ground is bare and dusty. There are no plants growing beneath the towering trees.

This is the final story in a three-part series on the wildlife refuges of the Klamath Basin and water in the arid West. Read part one and part two.

Spokane voters will decide in November whether to allow the shipment of coal and oil by rail through the city. The city council voted in favor of a special election in November.

This is the second story in a three-part series on the wildlife refuges of the Klamath Basin and water in the arid West. Read part one here.

A line of binoculars point upwards at a ridge on the edge of Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. There’s an owl’s nest in a small cave about 150 feet up, and Charlotte Kisling has her scope trained.

In Hawaii's Kauai island, the native forest birds are in peril. Once considered a paradise for the colorful songbirds, the island has lost more than half of those native species.

What's happening on Kauai could be an early warning for the other Hawaiian islands.

This is the first story in a three-part series on the wildlife refuges of the Klamath Basin and water in the arid West. Read Part two here.

Driving around Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is like being on bird safari. Guides today are refuge manager Greg Austin and biologist John Vradenburg.

Chris Wolf and his colleagues at Oregon State University had a question. They wanted to figure out which is worse: chopping down an acre of woods in a forest that’s already been disturbed or chopping down an acre of woods in a forest previously untouched by humans.

Going into the study, he said, “we were more concerned about forest loss in areas that had already experienced a great deal of forest loss.”

Wolf and his team hypothesized that cutting down a last little patch of remaining forest would have disastrous effects for biodiversity.

World Faces Global Sand Shortage

Jul 21, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The sewage system is crumbling in Carbonado, Washington, near Mt. Rainier. And if Washington lawmakers fail to pass a capital construction budget before they adjourn Thursday, a plan to replace it—and many other projects around the state—will be put on hold.

Coal and oil trains pass through Spokane daily, but that could change by the end of the year. Spokane’s city council will take public testimony Monday on a proposed ballot initiative that would prohibit coal and oil shipment by rail through specific areas of the city.



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