environment | KUOW News and Information

environment

Excavation equipment has just begun digging for the next phase of Amazon's headquarters.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

As a general contractor who does small house remodels in Seattle, Chris Spott knows how to get rid of a pickup truck load of dirt. 

The Canadian government approved a crude-oil pipeline project that is much larger than the one generating protests in North Dakota and could bring a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic to the Salish Sea.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Kinder-Morgan Transmountain pipeline expansion project. The pipeline currently brings crude from Alberta’s oil sands region to the coast of British Columbia.

Now the company is approved to more than double the pipeline’s capacity.

The good news for those worried that the U.S. will lose its leadership role in confronting climate change: President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday, "I have an open mind to it. ... I do have an open mind."

At a meeting Tuesday with New York Times journalists and executives, Trump said he thinks "there is some connectivity" in terms of human activity causing climate change.

KUOW's Ashley Ahearn and mountaineer Dave Hahn speak at Eddie Bauer store in University Village on October 28, 2016.
KUOW Photo

Professional mountain climber and guide Dave Hahn has summited Mount Everest 15 times — more than any non-Sherpa climber. He has a foothold in the Northwest as well, having climbed Mt. Rainier over 270 times.

KUOW environment reporter Ashley Ahearn wanted to learn more about Hahn’s life, how mountaineering has changed over the years, and what motivates him to keep climbing. Hahn spoke with  her at the Eddie Bauer store in University Village on October 28. Sonya Harris recorded their talk.

As resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, N.D., concludes its seventh month, two narratives have emerged:

  1. We have never seen anything like this before.
  2. This has been happening for hundreds of years.

Both are true. The scope of the resistance at Standing Rock exceeds just about every protest in Native American history. But that history itself, of indigenous people fighting to protect not just their land, but the land, is centuries old.

For more than half a century, dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers have been taken for granted as a permanent part of the landscape. The four dams on the lower Snake River provide hydropower and navigation to the West Coast’s most inland port -- in Lewiston, Idaho. They’ve also proven detrimental to threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead.

Now, a longstanding debate — removing or altering the four lower Snake River dams — is back at the forefront of a discussion on how to protect fish while still doing what’s best for all interests along the Columbia and Snake rivers.

The state Fish and Wildlife departments in Washington and Oregon are seeking -- and getting -- help from hunters and hikers to track a perplexing epidemic. It's a hoof disease that causes heartbreaking scenes of limping or lame elk.

Photo of Melissa Ponder

Ampersand Magazine is a production of Forterra, a Seattle-based conservation and community-building organization. Ampersand Live is a gathering of poets, artists and storytellers keen on preserving and celebrating the fragile bond between society and nature in the Pacific Northwest. 

In this town of 1,200 people in the southwest corner of Oregon, neighborhoods end where stacks of sprinkler-soaked logs begin.

The town is surrounded by four sawmills in the heart of timber country.

Here in Douglas County, where about half of the land is owned by the federal government, Donald Trump won 64 percent of the county's vote in this year’s presidential election. Trump’s victory has this community and others in the Northwest Timber Belt cheering and hoping better times are ahead.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a deposit in West Texas is the largest continuous oil and gas deposit ever discovered in the United States.

On Tuesday, the USGS announced that an area known as the Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

That is nearly three times more petroleum than the agency found in North Dakota's Bakken shale in 2013.

People who eat fish from Washington state waters will be protected by a combination of new federal and state pollution rules.

That’s the outcome of a decision the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled Tuesday.

The announcement could end years of wrangling over how much to restrict municipal and industrial water pollution. Indian tribes have been especially critical of what they considered lax standards for how much fish can be safely consumed.

Sara Thompson from the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission called the decision an important first step.

Conservationists and fishing groups worry their voices aren’t being heard during public hearings about the future of southeastern Washington's Snake River dams.

A federal judge ordered agencies to to consider all options on the table when it comes to protecting threatened and endangered salmon that -- including a hard look at removing or altering the four dams on the lower Snake River.

The Oregon Board of Forestry is proposing to increase the number of shade trees left standing beside streams after logging on private forests. The proposed rules are designed to improve habitat for salmon, steelhead and bull trout in the western part of the state.

The idea is to get these streams into compliance with the state’s own rules about protecting cold water for these species of fish.

A federal civil trial in Seattle against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is on hold pending a tentative settlement in a case brought by seven environmental groups that has been in litigation since 2013.

Plaintiffs argued coal dust and pieces of coal the company ships from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin across the Northwest have been polluting Washington’s waterways for years in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

A project to demonstrate that jets could someday be powered by logging leftovers from Northwest forests gets a culminating test Monday morning. A Boeing 737 is scheduled to take off with fuel tanks filled partly with a wood-based jet fuel.

Alaska Airlines fueled a regularly scheduled cross-country flight from Seattle to Washington, DC with a blend of 80 percent regular jet fuel and 20 percent "biojet." In a sign of how safe the makers think this fuel is, the test flight will carry newly reelected members of Congress back to Washington, D.C., for a lame duck session.

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