Environment

KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Saying state officials and residents simply haven't done enough to curb water use, California regulators unanimously approved unprecedented water restrictions on Tuesday.

The AP reports:

Oregon Scientists Lead Underwater Research

15 hours ago

Scientists from Oregon State University recently installed four large buoys off the coast which will soon begin measuring oxygen levels, acidity, and other biological and chemical data which will help us learn more about the health of the ocean.

A drive across the Northwest quickly reveals things look really dry everywhere.

A shower is my favorite part of the day. It helps me face school in the morning, or relax in the evening. Even so, I know that with California's four-year drought, long showers are a luxury that we can't really afford anymore. So I decided to time myself to see how long I was taking.

The Oregon-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is filing a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The charity's campaign to stop Japanese whaling is documented in the TV series, "Whale Wars."

Back in 2012 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction to stop the Sea Shepherd from going within 500 feet of a whaling ship.

Sea Shepherd Attorney Claire Davis says U.S. staff got off the Sea Shepherd, but were replaced with protesters from other countries who then took the ship within the 500 feet limit.

The call of the open road beckons to electric car owners now that Washington and Oregon have completed their portions of the West Coast Electric Highway, a network of rapid recharging stations to enable long distance electric-powered travel.

The Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer arrived in Port Angeles weeks ago.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

The city of Seattle said Monday that a new permit is needed for Shell Oil's Arctic drilling fleet to dock at Terminal 5, a stance that could bring more conflict with the port.

A lawsuit in the Netherlands is taking an unusual approach to climate change. So unusual, in fact, that experts around the world are watching it closely, wondering whether it might spark a major shift in environmentalists' efforts to limit carbon emissions.

If that happens, it won't be the first time that Marjam Minnesma has turned the status quo on its head.

She's founder and director of a Dutch environmental organization called Urgenda, an abbreviation for "urgent agenda."

Photographer Matt Black grew up in California's Central Valley. He has dedicated his life to documenting the area's small towns and farmers.

Last year, he says he realized what had been a mild drought was now severe. It had simply stopped raining.

"It was kind of a daily surreal thing to walk outside," Black says.

Washington environmental regulators have reversed their decision to allow pesticide spraying on oyster beds after a public outcry about the use of toxic chemicals.

The state Department of Ecology had previously issued a permit to apply a pesticide to areas of Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay where oyster producers want to kill a type of shrimp that burrows into shellfish beds. The shellfish producers say they need to kill the shrimp because it make the ground so soft that their oysters suffocate.

A scene from a simulation by the Washington State Department of Transportation of what could happen if a massive earthquake hits the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
YouTube/WSDOT

Most of us in Seattle aren't ready for The Big One.

Eric Holdeman, former director of the King County Office of Emergency Management, said we shouldn’t expect outsiders to swoop in and save us when a long-anticipated massive earthquake hits (and it will hit, we just don’t know when).

The Interagency Fire Center released an outlook for the upcoming fire season on Friday. 2015 could be a big year for major wildfires in the Northwest.

One important predictor of fires is the moisture level of dead wood, called the "fuel moisture value." The value is measured at several sites across the state.

Ever since gray wolves returned to Oregon and Washington their population has been increasing steadily -- especially over the past few years.

Wolves are slowly dispersing from the remote areas where the first packs got established. In the past few months, wolves have been spotted in areas that haven’t had wolves for decades, including Mount Hood, Klamath Falls and Malheur County. This week an animal thought to be a wolf was struck by a car in Western Washington east of Seattle.

Two Sea Lions Die In Trap At Bonneville Dam

May 2, 2015

Two California sea lions died in a trap this week at the Columbia River's Bonneville Dam after a door closed prematurely, confining them for hours.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Rick Hargrave said a veterinarian has determined the two sea lions were likely crushed to death by a 1,500-pound Steller sea lion that was almost three times their size.

With the door closed, the smaller sea lions were unable to hop out of the way. The incident took place sometime between Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning.

All Tapped Out In A Tiny California Town

May 2, 2015

Around the tiny rural community of Fairmead, Calif., about an hour north of Fresno on Highway 99, hundreds of one-story houses on small ranches stretch out for miles.

The ground is mostly brown, parched by California's recent drought. But beneath the surface, this mostly African-American community in the San Joaquin Valley has been going dry for years.

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