environment

Photographer Matt Black grew up in California's Central Valley. He has dedicated his life to documenting the area's small towns and farmers.

Last year, he says he realized what had been a mild drought was now severe. It had simply stopped raining.

"It was kind of a daily surreal thing to walk outside," Black says.

Washington environmental regulators have reversed their decision to allow pesticide spraying on oyster beds after a public outcry about the use of toxic chemicals.

The state Department of Ecology had previously issued a permit to apply a pesticide to areas of Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay where oyster producers want to kill a type of shrimp that burrows into shellfish beds. The shellfish producers say they need to kill the shrimp because it make the ground so soft that their oysters suffocate.

A scene from a simulation by the Washington State Department of Transportation of what could happen if a massive earthquake hits the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
YouTube/WSDOT

Most of us in Seattle aren't ready for The Big One.

Eric Holdeman, former director of the King County Office of Emergency Management, said we shouldn’t expect outsiders to swoop in and save us when a long-anticipated massive earthquake hits (and it will hit, we just don’t know when).

The Interagency Fire Center released an outlook for the upcoming fire season on Friday. 2015 could be a big year for major wildfires in the Northwest.

One important predictor of fires is the moisture level of dead wood, called the "fuel moisture value." The value is measured at several sites across the state.

Ever since gray wolves returned to Oregon and Washington their population has been increasing steadily -- especially over the past few years.

Wolves are slowly dispersing from the remote areas where the first packs got established. In the past few months, wolves have been spotted in areas that haven’t had wolves for decades, including Mount Hood, Klamath Falls and Malheur County. This week an animal thought to be a wolf was struck by a car in Western Washington east of Seattle.

Two Sea Lions Die In Trap At Bonneville Dam

May 2, 2015

Two California sea lions died in a trap this week at the Columbia River's Bonneville Dam after a door closed prematurely, confining them for hours.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Rick Hargrave said a veterinarian has determined the two sea lions were likely crushed to death by a 1,500-pound Steller sea lion that was almost three times their size.

With the door closed, the smaller sea lions were unable to hop out of the way. The incident took place sometime between Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning.

All Tapped Out In A Tiny California Town

May 2, 2015

Around the tiny rural community of Fairmead, Calif., about an hour north of Fresno on Highway 99, hundreds of one-story houses on small ranches stretch out for miles.

The ground is mostly brown, parched by California's recent drought. But beneath the surface, this mostly African-American community in the San Joaquin Valley has been going dry for years.

Oil trains are getting stronger tank cars, better brakes, slower speed limits and possibly new routes. Many in the Northwest say that’s still not enough.

Northwest emergency responders have complained about receiving little information about oil train movement through their community. They’re about to get even less.

EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

Ross Reynolds talks with King County Executive Dow Constantine about his concerns about coal and what he wants the state to do about it.

Baltimore protest, 4/28/2015, Freddie Gray
Flickr Photo/Arash Azizzada

Is a property damage as protest ever justifiable? Did Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant cross the line in criticizing a colleague? What will the Shell Arctic drilling protests accomplish? Bonus: Should Seattle PBS station KCTS pull its own plug?

Bill Radke discusses the week’s news with Tonya Mosley, Eli Sanders and Chris Vance. 

Oregon’s U.S. senators want to put a $175 fee on each older model railroad tank car used to ship flammable oil.

Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined four other Democrats in introducing a bill Thursday that would create a surcharge on each DOT-111, a tank car model known to be flawed and puncture-prone.

Air pollution caused by wood stoves in Washington is in line with federal clean air requirements for the first time in seven years.

Rivers Recover Rapidly Once Dams Are Gone, Study Finds

Apr 30, 2015

A new study sums up what scientists now know about the environmental effects of removing dams from rivers.

It concludes that rivers and fish respond quickly after a dam is removed, and the results are mostly positive.

"Heraclitus has said you can't step in the same river twice,"said study co-author Gordon Grant. "Well, you don't get exactly the same river back after you take a dam off it that you had before, but you can come pretty close. In some cases, it can even be difficult to identify in just a few years where the dam was."

Oregon LNG Considers Federal Permit After County Permit Withdrawn

Apr 30, 2015

Oregon's Land Use Board of Appeals Wednesday upheld the rejection of a permit for a liquefied natural gas facility proposed for Warrenton.

Clatsop County commissioners turned down a pipeline permit for the facility in 2013.

Now LUBA says they were within their rights to do so.

Opponents of the $6 billion project call the ruling significant. They say a local land use permit is necessary before the state can approve it.

But Peter Hansen with Oregon LNG says the facility is ultimately governed by federal rather than local regulations.

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