environment

Christopher Clark, who directs the bioacoustics research program at Cornell University, is among the world's best scientific listeners. His work has revealed how human-made noise is filling the ocean, making it harder for marine animals to hear their own world. But Clark didn't start out with much interest in whales at all.

Conservation groups are accusing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of withholding research showing a federal plan to kill seabirds on the Columbia River would not actually benefit salmon and steelhead.

Earlier this year, the agency approved a controversial plan to shoot around 11,000 double-crested cormorants to protect threatened and endangered fish. Studies show the birds eat up to 20 percent of young salmon and steelhead as they swim down the river to the ocean.

Delayed Shell Icebreaker Arrives In Arctic

Aug 12, 2015

Shell’s wayward icebreaker made it to the company’s Arctic Ocean drilling site Tuesday. The arrival of the Fennica after a month’s delay means the company could get to drill for oil beneath the Chukchi Sea this summer.

Currently, Shell only has permission to do shallower drilling into non-oil-bearing rocks off Alaska’s northwest coast.

With the Fennica steaming toward the Arctic, Shell submitted an application to the Interior Department on Thursday for permission to drill into deeper, oil-bearing rocks.

The U.S. Coast Guard says it has notified five Greenpeace protesters they are being fined $5,000 each for interfering with the safe operation of a vessel, during their effort to blockade a Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker in Portland for repairs.

The protesters facing the fines include three who dangled on lines below the St. John's bridge for 40 hours, and two support staff who were on the deck of the bridge.

The violations have been referred to a Coast Guard hearing office in Virginia. The protesters have the right to appeal.

Oregon’s new pay-by-the-mile program called OReGO is one month along. The idea is to re-capture tax revenue from people who drive a lot but don’t have to buy much gas.

But it may work out differently.

David Hyde talks to Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about the ongoing saga of Victoria's untreated waste entering the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  

'The Blog' is indicated by dark orange on the West Coast of the U.S. The Blob is a patch of warm water that was detected by a University of Washington climatologist in 2013.
Courtesy of Nick Bond

Call it “The Blob.”

It’s an unusually warm patch of water off the West Coast that has flummoxed climatologists.

“It’s still rearing its ugly head,” said Nick Bond, Washington state climatologist and regular contributor to KUOW. He first detected The Blob in 2013. 

Groundwater levels in Oregon’s Klamath Basin have dropped as much as 25 feet in the past 15 years. A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey shows there is a relationship between the declines and pumping by farmers in the region.

Drought is a double-whammy for groundwater. Not only do farmers rely more on wells when rivers run low, there’s not much water available to seep back into, or recharge, the aquifer.

Last month, the Oregon Health Authority released a health advisory for the Ross Island Lagoon in the Willamette River, due to an algae bloom that has produced low but detectible levels of toxins.

sprinkler lawn water
Flickr Photo/Amanda Graham (CC BY NC ND 2.0)

Residents of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett are being asked to cut back on their use of water by 10 percent.

That’s because the summer’s historic high temperatures and lack of precipitation have worsened the region’s water supply outlook. In addition, water supply managers are worried about forecasts for drier than normal conditions this fall.

A huge swath of wilderness in Idaho will now be protected from development, thanks to legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on Friday.

The signing ceremony concluded a 40-year effort that was supported by environmentalists, ranchers, recreation groups and Idaho's Congregational delegation.

Idaho Public Television/EarthFix producer Aaron Kunz and Idaho Statesman writer Rocky Barker have been following the process. They teamed up to produce this video report.

In an event that has led to health warnings and turned a river orange, the Environmental Protection Agency says one of its safety teams accidentally released contaminated water from a mine into the Animas River in southwest Colorado.

The spill, which sent heavy metals, arsenic and other contaminants into a waterway that flows into the San Juan National Forest, occurred Wednesday. The EPA initially said 1 million gallons of wastewater had been released, but that figure has risen sharply.

From member station KUNC, Stephanie Paige Ogburn reports for our Newscast unit:

The tsunami that struck Japan four years ago sent about 5 million tons of debris into the Pacific Ocean.

On Friday, workers began unloading one million pounds of that debris from a barge in south Seattle.

Much of the debris washed up on a remote stretch of Alaskan coastline. After three years of planning, state and environmental groups — financed by a $5 million gift from Japan — spent the past month collecting things like buoys, fishing nets and personal items from victims of the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

Mt. Hood’s Timberline Resort is the only place offering a full summer ski season in North America. But not this year. The resort closed to the public on August 2 -- five weeks earlier than normal. And that’s after a dismal winter ski season.

Fire crews are starting back burns from helicopters and are digging hand lines to try and slow the Wolverine wildfire in north-central Washington state.

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