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.

A Shell icebreaking vessel being protested by Greenpeace and other activist groups will not leave a Portland dock Wednesday, according to the Columbia River Bar Pilot dispatch.

Word of the cancellation came as 13 protesters dangled from the St. Johns Bridge about a mile downstream from the Shell vessel.

Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard says the protesters dangling off the bridge have enough water and food to last for days.

In the middle of a heat wave this month, Portland State University researchers Vivek Shandas and Jackson Voelkel drove across the city of Portland with a thermometer sticking out the window.

The thermometer was connected to a GPS unit. Together the two devices logged the temperature and location every second as the car moved along city streets. As they drove past the Portland International Airport, Shandas noted lots of asphalt and a near total lack of trees.

"This is one of the hottest places in the city," he said.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales last week joined more than 60 mayors from around the world on a trip to The Vatican to meet with Pope Francis about climate change.

The group also discussed ways to address human trafficking during the two-day summit.

On Tuesday, Hales spoke with Think Out Loud host Conrad Wilson about the city's plans for curbing the effects of climate change following his trip.

The plight of greater sage grouse is at the top of mind for ranchers, conservationists and politicians across the West — so much so that one ranch in southeastern Oregon has put a wildlife biologist on its payroll.

Andrew Shields roams the Roaring Springs Ranch in Harney County every day, monitoring the progress of the imperiled bird.

“I see more wildlife species than people, and I don’t think many folks can say that — wildlife biologist or not,” Shields said.

Gov. Inslee Seeks A Cap On Washington's Carbon

Jul 28, 2015

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday directed the state Department of Ecology to put a cap on carbon emissions by stepping up enforcement of existing pollution laws.

In a news release, the governor announced he would use his authority under the Clean Air Act to reduce carbon pollution in the face of staunch opposition from Republicans and the oil industry to stronger legislative measures.

Conservationists are lamenting the hunting and killing of a well-known lion from western Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park.

The black-maned lion, named Cecil, was 13 years old and had become popular among tourists from around the world.

We're not that emerald of a city anymore with the recent drought conditions.
Flickr Photo/Jeff Youngstrom (CC BY NC 2.0)

Extremely dry weather and rising use have got the Puget Sound region’s cities thinking seriously about a water shortage later this year.

Seattle, Tacoma and Everett said Monday that they're activating the first stage of water shortage response plans.

There are about 140 million square miles of open ocean, and according to New York Times reporter Ian Urbina, much of it is essentially lawless. As Mark Young, a retired U.S. Coast Guard commander and former chief of enforcement for the Pacific Ocean, told Urbina, the maritime realm is "like the Wild West. Weak rules, few sheriffs, lots of outlaws."

Pacific Northwest businesses have noticed an uptick in earthquake preparation sales and inquiries since the New Yorker wrote about an expected 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

Grapes on the vineyards of Cave B Winery in Quincy, Washington.
Flickr Photo/Samantha Levang (CC BY 2.0)

Marcie Sillman speaks with Dick Boushey, a grower and vineyard manager in the Red Mountain area, about the impact of heat on Washington's $1 billion wine industry. 

Interstate 90 cuts through the heart of the Mountains to Sound greenway.
Courtesy of Greenway Trust

Kim Malcom talks with Mountains to Sound Greenway executive director Jon Hoekstra about the Greenway Trust and protecting the environment amid booming growth. 

Northwest forests that have significant damage from insects, like the mountain pine beetle or the western spruce budworm, might seem more prone to wildfires. Those critters can chew their way through a forest and leave large stands of dead trees in their wake.

However a new study from Oregon State University shows that's not necessarily the case.

The Fish Creek Fire in Interior Alaska isn't much to look at. It's about 7,500 acres in size, sitting about an hour south of Fairbanks near the twisty Tanana River. The main fire front — the made-for-TV part, with torching trees and pulses of orange heat — flamed out more than a week ago, leaving behind a quiet charred landscape.

Portland's Swan Island basin was still and remarkably quiet Saturday as a flotilla of kayakers dipped their paddles in and out of the water, pulling themselves north toward the Vigorous, the largest dry dock in America.

Then, with a cry, a drumbeat began. One hundred paddles smacked the water, and people yelled, "Shell no!"

Vancouver Oil Terminal Sparks Controversy, Concerns For Community

Jul 26, 2015

In Washington's Vancouver region, there is arguably no issue more hotly felt than the proposed Tesoro-Savage oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver. The port commission has been criticized for approving a lease to the company in 2013 without what many opponents felt was a proper public process.

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