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.

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.

New Plan For Recovering Bull Trout Takes Effect

Oct 1, 2015

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a new plan for bringing back the declining bull trout in Oregon, Washington and three other Western states. But conservationists say it won't actually restore the fish's population to a healthy level.

Bull trout are predators native to streams across the Northwest. In some places, bull trout were purposely over-fished to keep them from eating precious salmon.

In southeast Washington state, a group of farms has been frozen in time. It’s at Hanford, the area the federal government took over to make plutonium during World War II.

Federal energy regulators have signed off on a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal and pipeline in Southern Oregon. A final review published Wednesday says the Jordan Cove project won’t have significant negative effects on the environment.

The LNG export terminal proposed for Coos Bay would be the first on the West Coast. The 230-mile pipeline would connect the terminal to Rocky Mountain and Canadian gas supplies.

The Polar Pioneer oil rig in Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle this summer.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

In the end one battle over Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling effort came down to the Websters New Collegiate Dictionary’s definition of “good.”

A Seattle hearing examiner gave the Port of Seattle, Foss Maritime and Shell a victory Wednesday by deciding that materials loaded onto Shell’s ships at Terminal 5 met that definition.

The Environmental Protection Agency released new rules Tuesday requiring better monitoring and control of air emissions from oil refineries, including five operating in Washington.

Refineries are being targeted by the new rules in part because they emit volatile organic chemicals, greenhouse gases and the carcinogenic compound benzene.