environment | KUOW News and Information

environment

MercyCorps Helping Haiti Recover From Hurricane Matthew

Oct 7, 2016

Hurricane Matthew has carved a trail of devastation across southern Haiti, killing more than 800 people. Oregon-based MercyCorps is there.

Speaking from her office in Port-au-Prince, MercyCorps Haitian director Jessica Pearl says farmers were badly hit by the storm.

“The banana trees have just been broken in half essentially," she said. Pearl says soil has washed away and the crops aren't able to be recovered.

For the last two months, wildlife managers in Washington state have been shooting wolves in the Profanity Peak pack from a helicopter. The director of Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife authorized the killings back in August.

The company behind the oil-by-rail terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver announced new safety measures Friday. It hopes they will quell fears about the project.

Oil company Tesoro says it wants to prove to the community and regulators that it takes safety concerns seriously.

'Week in Review' panel Josh Feit, Sarah Stuteville, Joni Balter and Bill Radke.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Are liberal lobbyists writing Seattle's laws? Should Washington put a carbon tax on fossil fuels? And what can Vancouver, B.C. teach Seattle about safe injection sites for drug users?

We'll talk about these stories and more on KUOW's Week in Review. Listen to the live discussion Fridays at noon and follow the online discussion @KUOW and #KUOWwir. 

Ben Silesky, 26, and Sydney Allen, 21, go door to door to raise awareness and support for ballot Initiative 732, which would put a tax on carbon emissions in Washington.
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

If you could make energy companies pay $25 for every ton of CO2 they emitted, would you?

What if that tax increased your electric bill and the cost of gasoline by 25 cents per gallon – but the revenue from that tax reduced sales taxes and gave money back to low-income families in the form of a rebate?

The race for Washington lands commissioner pits an environmental lawyer against a supporter of two imprisoned Oregon ranchers. Both candidates are relatively unknown to voters.

Federal land managers have made little progress in recovering damaged rangelands across the West or clearing the many backlogged acres that have never been studied for ecological health, according to new figures from the Bureau of Land Management.

The new data show the BLM assessed an average of 3.5 million acres per year between 2013 and 2015. At that rate, it would take about 17 years before the agency could finish grading all of its rangeland. It started the process in 1998.

Bill Radke speaks with Kyle Murphy and Ellicott Dandy about Initiative 732, which will appear on the November ballot. The initiative would introduce a carbon tax with the goal of reducing carbon emissions.

Murphy is with the Yes on 732 campaign and he wants you to vote for the initiative. Dandy is the economic and environmental justice manager for progressive group OneAmerica, she wants you to vote no. 

A Canadian city is putting warning labels on gas pumps

Oct 6, 2016
e
Andrea Crossan

Imagine going to fill up your tank and seeing a label on the pump that says what you are doing was causing climate change.

The city of North Vancouver in Canada is launching a new program to encourage drivers to think about being more energy-efficient when they drive — and that fossil fuels contribute to climate change.

The city council heard about the plan during a presentation last summer by teenage climate change activist Emily Kelsall.

Oregon Health Authority Offers Free Soil Tests

Oct 5, 2016

The Oregon Health Authority is offering free soil screenings at a public meeting in Portland next week.

The event comes after concerns about toxic metals in the air.

Whether you’re growing a lettuce in a window box or your whole yard’s been turned over to vegetables, health officials say it's good to know what's in the soil.

OHA spokeswoman Julie Sifuentes said people can bring soil samples from anywhere in their yard.

A new proposed ballot initiative in Spokane, Washington, could prohibit coal and oil companies from transporting their products through the city by rail. It comes after the city council rolled back a similar effort last month.

This time around, the proposal targets the owners of the rail cars and not the railroad companies tasked with transporting them.

Swan Lake Valley is a patchwork of farm fields and grazing land about 20 minutes from Klamath Falls. The slopes of the surrounding juniper-scattered hills rise sharply from the valley floor, brown against the green of hay and alfalfa below.

Gov. Kate Brown's Natural Resource Policy Director Richard Whitman will be stepping in as the next interim director of the troubled Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Whitman as a replacement for interim director Pete Shepherd, who was appointed by the commission in April. Whitman will assume the position Oct. 15 and stay in the role until a permanent director is hired.

SPU reports that residents are confusing bags made out of recycled materials with bags that can be used for composting.
Courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities

Seattle will be the first city in the nation to take a citywide plastic bag ban to another level, and ban any plastic produce bags in the colors green or brown.  Seattle leaders want to help people who are composting wrong to finally get it right.

People have been throwing plastic produce bags in their compost, since they resemble the green/brown biodegradable bags meant for compost bins. Plastic bags jam up the city's composting machines, which are costly for the city to fix.

To prevent the problem, the City Council has unanimously approved a plan that requires grocery stores to limit what bags they give away. For produce, stores can either offer clear plastic bags, or green or brown compostable ones. The purpose is to tell shoppers: green and brown are compostable, other colors are not.

The city council measure alo makes the five-cent fee for paper bags permanent.

KUOW's Paige Browning asked shoppers on Capitol Hill: should Seattle offer compostable produce bags? Listen to what Seattle residents Sandra Wagner, Fatima Malik, Kevin Mason, and Anthony Hall had to say about it:

The European Parliament voted Tuesday to ratify the landmark Paris climate accord, paving the way for the international plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions to become binding as soon as the end of this week.

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