environment

This week Congress passed a bill that increased funding to suppress wildfires. That's after agencies spent more than $1.7 billion on wildfires in 2015. That's the costliest season on record.

Oregon Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley praised the funding increase. But they also said Congress needs to do more to ensure that firefighting doesn't consume other agency programs.

Federal officials are conducting an investigation after plutonium escaped off the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state. The plutonium is left over from a Cold War era factory at Hanford where plutonium was processed from a liquid into a solid form for bombs.

Last year several flocks throughout the Northwest were killed off and disposed of, plus many more in the Midwest. Now Washington state agriculture officials are better prepared for high-pathogenic strains of bird flu.

The Food and Drug Administration doesn't see a need to require labeling for genetically engineered salmon. But Congress does.

In the federal spending package approved Friday, lawmakers directed the FDA to make sure the controversial new fish is labeled for consumers.

The Massachusetts-based company AquaBounty has engineered a fish that grows to market size faster than Atlantic farmed salmon.

Baby orca J54 swims with its mom, J28, in the waters off San Juan Island this month.
Dave Ellifrit/Center for Whale Research

When officials counted the orcas in Puget Sound earlier this year, they noted that several of them appeared to be pregnant.

They were right. Yet another baby orca has been spotted – the eighth born to the pods that make up the southern resident orcas.

A budget deal that’s heading for final action Friday includes a provision that could create international demand for American oil — and help make the case for building rail-to-ship export terminals on the West Coast.

Lake Washington and Mount Rainier from O.O. Denny Park in Kirkland.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

It’s not in your head. Seattle's Lake Washington is getting warmer and more comfortable to swim in every year. And it’s not the only lake experiencing a rapid rise in temperature.

Congress is getting closer to lifting a 40-year-old ban on oil exports, a move that could be a boon for U.S. oil producers hoping to expand into the global market.

President Obama and environmentalists oppose ending the ban, but Congressional leaders made it part of a $1.14 trillion spending bill, unveiled Tuesday, greatly increasing its chance of passage.

When Forest Service employees first stumbled upon the trail and road damage, they didn’t know who did it or why.

But they knew something was wrong.

Mile after mile of dirt trails and primitive roads west and south of Bend had been wrecked with heavy machinery. Trees were knocked over with roots attached. Culverts were smashed. Roads were widened to two or three times their original size. Some areas were stripped bare of vegetation and rocks. The debris was pushed into unkempt piles along the road.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will roll out his proposed update to the state’s two-year budget on Thursday. One of the chief spending items will be paying for last summer’s fire season.

A report by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council finds the region can meet nearly all of its energy needs for the next 20 years without building new power plants.

The exceptions may come from the need to replace the power from coal plants that are being retired.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has made clean energy a signature issue of his administration. But some state clean energy grant money is flowing to startup companies staffed by former top state officials.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has set his sights on a clean energy future for the state. Since taking office he’s helped convince the legislature to put $75 million into a Clean Energy Fund.

The Centralia Big Hanaford plant is the only coal-fired plant in Washington state. It also has natural gas-fired units.
Flickr photo/Kid Clutch (CC BY 2.0) HTTP://BIT.LY/1SXOE9R

Microsoft and Starbucks have joined other global businesses in going beyond the Paris climate deal by pledging to use only climate-friendly electricity.

But other well-known names among Washington state’s biggest companies haven’t signed on.

The city of Longview began drilling a series of test wells Monday along the Cowlitz River to search for a new drinking water source.

The city is considering whether to pursue a new well system that would allow it to once again get its water from the Cowlitz River.

“It’s really driven by our customers,” said Amy Blain, a project engineer with the city of Longview. “They’re unhappy with our current water source.”

In January 2013, Longview began to get its water from ground wells.

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