Northwest communities are breathing easier than many places in the United States after federal regulators clamped down on ozone pollution, the main component of smog.

The Environmental Protection Area last week lowered the acceptable limit to 70 parts per billion. The new clean air standard is not as far-reaching as health and environmental advocates were calling for. But it’s more strict than many industry representatives wanted to see.

As of 2014, no region in Washington or Oregon were averaging greater than 65 parts per billion.

What is ozone?

Portland Company Building Highrise From Wood

Oct 7, 2015

A 12-story highrise building is set for construction at the corner of Northwest 10th Avenue and Northwest Glisan Street. But this building stands out from the scores of new highrise construction in one significant way: it will be made of wood.

In Napa, Calif., a company called Free Flow Wines fills and dispenses reusable wine kegs, which are used by restaurants and bars for serving wine on draft. Every month, the company rinses and refills about 10,000 of the stainless steel casks, each of which eliminates the need for 26 clunky wine bottles.

This is a small win for the environment, since glass bottles are heavy and require energy to ship.

Updated at 10:52 a.m.

When it comes to eating well, should we consider the health of both our bodies and the planet?

Sen. Henry M. "Scoop" Jackson fishes with his son, Peter, on an unnamed lake in an undated photo.
Courtesy of Henry M. Jackson Foundation

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund paid for state, federal and local parks without any taxes, relying on royalty money from federal oil and gas leases. Or at least it did until Republicans recently killed it by letting the funding expire.

One of the original endangered species – the Columbian white-tailed deer – is slowly making its way toward recovery.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed downgrading its protected status from endangered to threatened.

The new status will mean these deer are no longer on the brink of extinction. But they're not fully recovered yet, either.

Critics Say Whales Put At Risk By Navy Testing Plan

Oct 4, 2015

The Navy released the final environmental review Friday for its proposed sonar and explosives training practices in waters off the coast of the Northwest.

The Navy currently conducts training exercises in an area of the northeastern Pacific Ocean, roughly the size of Montana. It needs to renew its federal permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act in order to continue and expand those exercises.

Community members gather for a candlelight vigil for those killed in a shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

We'll bring you the latest on investigations into the Roseburg, Oregon, shooting and last week's fatal Aurora Bridge crash. Plus: Shell’s Arctic oil abandonment as seen from the Aleutian Islands. Where did all the I-405 drivers go? And now that the Seattle Mariners have named Jerry Dipoto as their new general manager, will they finally put the right pretty Lego castle pieces in place and leave them there?

Bill Radke figures out the week’s news with former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, journalist Erica C. Barnett, former state lawmaker Bill Finkbeiner, KUOW’s John Ryan reporting from Alaska, Seattle Times reporters Lewis Kamb and Geoff Baker, Northwest News Networks’s Chris Lehman and WSDOT tolling director Craig Stone.

Diesel Spills Into Columbia After Ship Hits Astoria Pier

Oct 3, 2015

The Coast Guard says a diesel spill in the Columbia River is being cleaned up after a cargo ship leaked more than one-thousand gallons of fuel Friday.

The 1,100-gallon spill happened early in the morning after the vessel struck a pier. The collision created a 4-foot gash in the ship, which was arriving at the port to collect a load of logs.

U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Levi Read said the spill was contained and was being cleaned up.

In some areas of the Northwest, dryland farmers are getting impatient. They need rain to plant winter wheat.

A Coast Guard C-130 flies over the Arctic Ocean during an Office of Naval Research-sponsored study of the changing sea ice, ocean and atmosphere.
Flickr Photo/Office of Naval Research (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1L2lhwW

Jeannie Yandel talks to Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, head of NOAA's office of coast survey, about why only 1 percent of the U.S. Arctic Ocean has been mapped with modern tools. 

U.S. Drought Monitor

Under Friday's gun-metal skies, Seattleites might be forgiven for thinking the drought gripping Washington state for the past year is over.

It’s not.

Two Oregon state agencies have fined helicopter company Applebee Aviation close to $10,000 and suspended the company’s license to spray pesticides after a worker complained of chemical exposure in Douglas County.

Both the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health and the Oregon Department of Agriculture opened investigations in the case brought by Darryl Ivy, a truck driver and pesticide handler who was exposed to herbicides on the job and who released hundreds of photos and videos in alleging unsafe conditions during aerial herbicide sprays.

The Environmental Protection Agency came out with new rules Thursday that will make it harder to pollute the air with ozone, the main ingredient in smog.

The new allowable threshold in the air is 70 parts per billion, down from 75.

While many cities across the U.S. will be forced to make changes to improve air quality, Northwest communities are generally in good shape for now.

Old or uncertified wood burning stoves will be banned in parts of Pierce County starting in October.
Flickr Photo/Michael Buist (CC BY NC ND)/http://bit.ly/1LkR6HX

Ross Reynolds interviews  Craig Kenworthy, executive director of the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, about why they're banning all old wood stoves in Tacoma and the Puyallup River valley.

Despite efforts to get people to voluntarily disable or remove their polluting older model wood stoves, there are still  an estimated 20,000 stoves still in use in that part of Pierce County. Beginning in October, those using an older wood stove, except if it's a primary source of heat, will face a $1,500 fine.