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environment

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The Bureau of Land Management will not allow an archaeological dig at Iceberg Point in the San Juan Islands this summer after officials got an earful from residents concerned about possible impacts to the popular area.

In two weeks, thousands of peace-loving, free-spirited campers will descend on Oregon for the 2017 Rainbow Gathering in the Malheur National Forest.

The annual summer event attracts hippie types and wanderers from across the nation.

Rainbow members announced Thursday on social media that the July 1–7 gathering will be in a large field at Flagtail Creek, about 20 miles northwest of the tiny town of Seneca, Oregon, off Highway 395.

Seabirds Disappear In The Midst Of Plans To Shoot Them

Jun 15, 2017

For the second year in a row, thousands of cormorants have vacated their nesting grounds at the mouth of the Columbia River, derailing a plan to shoot and kill the seabirds to protect fish.

East Sand Island is usually packed with around 15,000 nesting cormorants this time of year; but right now there are none – just a handful of abandoned nests and broken eggs.

View of Mt. Rainier from the Paradise parking lot.
KUOW Photo/Matt Martin

"Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness," that's what the famous naturalist John Muir said. Sounds like Muir would not want his cell phone to work at Mount Rainier National Park.

But the park service wants to know what you think about a proposal to add cell service at Mount Rainier's Paradise Visitors Center. Public comment is open now.

KUOW producer Matt Martin explains to host Bill Radke about what people visiting Paradise think about the proposal. 

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration failed to follow proper environmental procedures when it granted approval to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project.

It's a legal victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmentalists, who protested for months against the pipeline. Oil started flowing through it earlier this month. The tribe fears that the pipeline, which crosses the Missouri River just upstream of its reservation, could contaminate its drinking water and sacred lands.

Northwest leaders are moving ahead with climate change discussions abandoned by the federal government. The U.S. withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord this month.

Bill Radke talks with Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, about climate change and what he perceives to be exaggeration on the environmental left.

Mass says he believes the environmental left is trying to boost social justice by connecting it to global warming and that some things happening today are normal, natural events that have no connection to man-made climate change.

He also says there is a chance for a bipartisan approach to address climate change, but there must be a greater focus on reasoned debate. 

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

Bill Radke talks to Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien about why he sponsored a resolution saying Seattle will uphold the Paris Climate Agreement and how city leaders can get the city to reduce its carbon footprint. 

Microsoft is trying to put the brakes on its greenhouse gas emissions.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

It’s rush hour in Wallingford, and commuters are stepping off a bus, closing up their laptops and heading into the evening sun. It’s not public transit. It’s a Microsoft Connector bus.

The Columbia River Gorge Commission hears an appeal Tuesday from Union Pacific Railroad on a proposed track expansion near Mosier, Oregon.

The proposed five-mile stretch would pass through the site of last year’s oil train derailment that spilled 40,000 gallons of crude oil and contaminated the town’s groundwater.

Micah White moved to Nehalem, Oregon, a few years ago and later ran for mayor. He wanted to test a revolutionary theory: that progressives need to seize control of the country via the democratic process and run for local office in small communities.
Flickr Photo/Internaz https://flic.kr/p/goMEa8 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

It’s a radical idea — that protest as we know it is broken. And a lot of people disagreed with Micah White when he first started talking about it, but he believes it’s time for activists to try something else. 

Washington's Largest Solar Project Coming To Tri-Cities

Jun 12, 2017

The Tri-Cities could soon be home to the largest utility-scale solar power project in Washington. A French company will develop the project on land that used to be part of the Hanford nuclear reservation.

The company, Neoen, is hoping to build a 20-megawatt solar project in the desert just north of Richland.

Washington state regulators approved two permits Thursday for a proposed plant that would make and export methanol along the Columbia River in Kalama.

More than 100 people testified before the Washington state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council in Vancouver Wednesday. It was one of the last opportunities for the public to sound off on a proposed oil terminal there.

The council heard more than seven hours of testimony from both critics and supporters of a controversial plan to build the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver.

The Washington Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision Thursday in a ruling that suggests the Port of Vancouver violated public meetings law while negotiating a lease for an oil terminal.

The court largely sided with environmental groups who argued the port commissioners violated the public meetings law by excluding the public from deliberations about the controversial Tesoro-Savage oil terminal lease.

A years-in-the-making plan to protect sage grouse from extinction is being reconsidered. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is bringing the plan, which took years to devise, back to the drawing table.

Zinke announced Wednesday the creation of a review team to reevaluate the state and federal sage grouse plans. He wants future efforts to highlight innovative conservation strategies and give more control to the 11 Western states that make up sage grouse habitat.

The Oregon Department of Forestry says wildfire season has officially begun in four regions of the state. 

Mike Shaw is the district forester for ODF’s Central Oregon district. He said this year’s heavy snowpack made for a slightly later-than-usual start to the season. 

“As the snowpack melts and recedes to higher elevation, the lower- and mid-elevation ground becomes available to burn, provided we don’t get much spring rain,” Shaw said.

Neil Shook was relaxing at home in Woodworth, N.D., on a Saturday afternoon just over a week ago.

"My wife was outside and she yelled at me to come outside and take a look at this," he recalls.

A massive brown cloud covered the horizon to the west. It was a dust storm — although Shook, who's a scientist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, doesn't like to call it dust. "I like to refer to it as soil, because that's basically what it is," he says. "We saw this huge soil cloud moving from west to east across the landscape."

In the wake of last week’s Trump administration announcement that the United States will pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, states are stepping up to fill the void. Washington announced a partnership with California and New York to form the U.S. Climate Alliance. Within days, Oregon and several other states signed on.

What is this U.S. Climate Alliance?

On the ferry ride from Washington to British Columbia ten activists sang songs they’d written about the water surrounding them: the Salish Sea.

They were crossing the international border for a combination march and ferry ride that would take them from Victoria to Vancouver. Their goal was to protest the expansion of a Canadian oil pipeline.

The United States is stepping away from the Paris Climate Agreement, but the consequences of climate change will be more difficult to leave behind. Take ocean acidification, a major emerging threat to West Coast fisheries.

Researchers at Oregon State University have recorded some of the highest levels of ocean acidification in the world – and they exist right off the coast of the Pacific Northwest.

When Anthony Planakis was going through the New York Police Academy, they told him to write his interests down on a little card.

"Beekeeping, of course I put that down," says 54-year-old Planakis, who is a fourth generation beekeeper. "And the very first job, the sergeant comes right up to me and I just look up and go, 'Hey, Sarge,' and he goes, 'Bees?' and I go, 'Yeah, where?' 'Harlem.' And I go, 'Cool.' That was it, that was the first job I handled," he says.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee.
Facebook Photo/Governor Jay Inslee

Gov. Jay Inslee says Washington state will continue to honor the goals of the Paris climate accord, despite President Trump's decision to withdraw from the international agreement to reduce global carbon emissions.

When asked what he'd like to say to Trump, Inslee replied: "Your resignation letter would be gratefully accepted by an optimistic and innovative nation."

President Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. will leave the Paris climate deal.

Here are five things that could be affected by the decision.

1. The coal industry

Even coal companies had lobbied the Trump administration to stay in the agreement.

Spawning salmon
US Bureau of Land Management

Salmon are starting to lose their sense of smell and their fear of predators, according to research from federal and university scientists in Seattle.


Mary Finley, Travis Sherman and Tonka at the beach.  'I'm fearful of the world that we are making for ourselves,' Travis said. 'That's why I don't want to have children.'
Courtesy of Mary Finley

Should we have kids, given where the planet is headed? 


Public Domain

If you find yourself at Lake Washington this summer, breathe deeply.

Matthew Klingle, author of "Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle," says you wouldn't have wanted to do that 60 years ago, when the lake was chronically polluted with sewage.

Portland's Bike-Powered Mill Delivers A Low-Carbon Beer

May 26, 2017

Portland's Baerlic Brewing has teamed up with the Oregon Environmental Council to brew a low-carbon beer using a bike mill to grind the malt for its “Bike Crush Saison.”

The beer, scheduled to be released June 15, will be made with locally grown hops from Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn. It will only be distributed within a mile of the brewery by bike or hybrid vehicle.

Washington Senator's Temporary Job Ends At EPA

May 25, 2017

Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen has finished his temporary job for the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency.

The Bellingham Herald reports that his 120-day position ended May 20.

Ericksen, a Republican from Ferndale, was hired shortly after the inauguration and during the 120-day period worked as both a state senator and a federal employee.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The Trump administration has given an initial thumbs-up to a plan to dig holes throughout a meadow of rare wildflowers inside the San Juan Islands National Monument.

It’s not part of any effort to eliminate the monument: It’s part of local tribes’ efforts to improve their diets and revive old traditions.

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