environment

Arsenic in drinking water is a worldwide problem. Now a discovery by scientists at the University of Oregon could lead to a new way to remove the toxic chemical, making groundwater supplies safer for communities.

In the environment, arsenic is continuously cycling through different forms and combinations. Sometimes it’s dissolved in water, embedded in rocks, or in gas form in the air. Sometimes the chemical has organic molecules attached to it. Sometimes it doesn’t.

What happens when the price of oil tanks and suddenly you're faced with a whole lot less money to deal with your town's explosive growth?

If you're 52-year-old Rick Norby, you lose a lot of sleep.

"I haven't slept since I became mayor," he says. "I really ain't kidding you."

When Norby became mayor of Sidney, Mont., oil prices were about $100 a barrel. A year later, they've fallen to roughly half that. Yet oil production has continued to churn right along.

City officials are scrutinizing whether the Port of Seattle's permits allow Shell Oil to dock its Arctic drilling fleet at Terminal 5.
Flickr photo/Chas Redmond (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with City Councilman Mike O'Brien about plans for Shell Oil's Arctic drilling fleet to dock in Seattle.

Mayor Ed Murray joined O'Brien and other City Council members Monday in directing the Department of Planning and Development to investigate a lease that would allow Shell's fleet to dock at Terminal 5.

Keep grizzly bears in Alaska, residents of Central Washington residents have told federal agencies. Agencies are considering reintroducing the bears to the area.
EarthFix Photo

Bill Bruton, who lives in the foothills of the North Cascades, isn’t too keen on having grizzly bears as his neighbors.

That’s a proposition that has drawn dozens of his neighbors to meetings hosted by federal agencies in central Washington – Okanogon, Winthrop and Wenatchee. Those agencies want to reintroduce the animals to this part of the state, where ranches and homesteads butt up against public forestland.

Washington's Makah Indian tribe wants to resume its traditional practice of whale hunting.

The first step in winning federal approval came Friday, when NOAA Fisheries issued a draft environmental impact statement analyzing the tribe's request.

An activist in Eugene has created a block-long art installation to protest a proposed natural gas pipeline being proposed for Southern Oregon.

Mary DeMocker constructed a 300-foot-long fake pipeline out of wire and black plastic sheeting. It runs across the yards of six houses near the University of Oregon. Each house is marked with a large banner reading “condemned.”

Scott Pattee stands well over 6 feet, but he’s dwarfed by the tall white tube set up near the Stevens Pass Ski Area to measure snow depth.

Little black numbers marking inches of snow ascend the side of the tube. The top number reads 250 inches, an amount of snow that’s hard to imagine right now.

Most of the mountains around Pattee are green and brown, not white - even though it’s officially still winter until March 19 arrives.

And the snow depth, according to the tower?

There Is Still Some Winter In The Methow Valley

Mar 6, 2015

Marcie Sillman talks to James DeSalvo, the executive director of the Methow Trails, about the winter weather in the Methow Valley.

Bamboo, 47, an Asian elephant, walks toward people watching her at the Woodland Park Zoo Nov. 19, 2014.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Seattle officials did not stand in the way of the decision to send Woodland Park Zoo's elephants to Oklahoma, should they have? How important is it when a state lawmaker refers to "colored people"? Will too little winter snow mean summer drought? And can we compost the dead?

Bill Radke discusses the week’s top stories with The Stranger’s Dan Savage, Seattle Channel’s Joni Balter and Crosscut’s Knute Berger.

How Big Of A Risk Are Oil Trains?

Mar 6, 2015
oil train, transportation
Flickr Photo/Russ Allison

Ross Reynolds speaks with Lisa Copeland, of the Washington State Department of Ecology, about the risk oil trains could pose to the state.

Also, Reynolds speaks to Kevin Book, an analyst from ClearView Energy Partners in Washington, D.C, and with Kristen Boyles, attorney for environmental law firm Earth Justice, about the implications of oil trains in our region.

The orcas commonly spotted in the waters of Puget Sound during the summer lead a much more mysterious life in the winter time.

But a team of researchers has just returned from a three-week cruise following orcas along the coast of the Northwest and British Columbia. And they brought back some clues to help demystify the orcas' winter activities.

After five hours of debate Wednesday, the Oregon House of Representatives approved a controversial bill that would extend a state effort to reduce carbon emissions from transportation fuels.

The bill passed 31-29 after several failed Republican motions to replace the bill, send it back to committee and postpone it indefinitely.

It’s truffle season in Oregon’s forests. On a recent weekend, forager Eric Lyon leads a big black Labrador into a stand of Douglas fir trees near the town of Banks.

"Where's the truffle?" he says to the lab named Leroy.

Leroy keeps his nose close to the ground. He's on the scent of a truffle.

"There’s maybe six, 10 inches of the soil that has truffle aroma," explains Lyon, "but they can isolate the exact spot and I just use my little spoon and pop it out."

Leroy stops and digs gently with one paw. "Great aroma! Oh, that's a good one Leroy," Lyon says.

Northwest Officials Unite Against Coal And Oil Trains

Mar 4, 2015

More than 150 elected officials from across the Northwest have teamed up to speak out against coal and oil trains. Their new group, the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance, held its third meeting in Portland Tuesday.

Washington's King County Executive Dow Constantine has stepped up to chair the group. It includes officials from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.

The Hanford Nuclear Reservation is one of the most contaminated sites on earth. And Susan Leckband is using her natural curiosity to help clean it up.

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