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.

During a commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy today, President Obama will cast climate change as posing an "immediate risk to our national security."

NPR's Scott Horsley reports Obama is expected to tell graduates that the Coast Guard itself will have to adjust to the effects of rising sea levels. Scott filed this report for our Newscast unit:

The buzz around bees has been bad lately. As we've reported, beekeepers say they lost 42 percent of honeybee colonies last summer.

Kirkland Has The World’s Greenest Road

May 19, 2015
Northeast 120th Street Extension in Kirkland, Washington, received the highest rating from The Greenroads Foundation.
The Greenroads Foundation

  A short street in Kirkland has earned the honor of being the greenest road in the world -- at least by one measure.

Earlier this month, Northeast 120th Street Extension earned the highest rating in the history of The Greenroads Foundation, scoring 46 out of 118 possible points.  

Arctic drilling protesters at the Port of Seattle.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Hundreds of protesters blocked entrance gates to Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle for most of the day Monday.

The climate activists intended not just to gain publicity but to stop work on the Polar Pioneer, an Arctic drilling rig that arrived at Terminal 5 on Thursday.

If you were to catch a salmon in Puget Sound, chances are you won’t be able to say exactly where that fish came from. That’s because salmon spawn in rivers and streams and then swim hundreds or even thousands of miles to the ocean to mature.

Some new research could help fisheries managers better protect salmon by studying their ear bones - that’s right, ear bones.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is in the midst of his second tour in less than a year to drum up support to export coal through the Northwest.

Tesoro Announces Rail Car Upgrades

May 19, 2015

Oil company Tesoro announced Monday it’s upgrading the fleet of tank cars it uses to carry crude oil by rail.

The company moves crude oil by train through the Pacific Northwest to its refinery in Anacortes, Washington.

Officials with the company said it will add 210 “enhanced” tank cars. According to Tesoro executives, the new tank cars exceed federal standards announced earlier this month.

Seattle's planning department is weighing whether to fine Shell, Foss, the local contractor, or the Port of Seattle -- or all three -- for bringing the oil rig to the city.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

City inspectors with the Department of Planning and Development paid a visit to Shell’s Polar Pioneer oil rig within 24 hours of its arrival in Seattle.

They had a look around the rig, parked at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5, for possible permit violations on Friday.

Dan Miller was driving north along Interstate 5 through Southwest Washington when Mount St. Helens blew its top 35 years ago.

“As I passed the Richfield exit on I-5, it just happens that there’s a beautiful clear view off to the northeast to Mount St. Helens,” he said. “I looked over there and it was a beautiful, bright sunny morning.”

Miller is a retired geologist who studied volcanoes with the U.S. Geological Survey. He was on his way up Mount St. Helens on the morning of May 18, 1980. He planned to work on the volcano that day.

Troy Capps found deer antlers in central Oregon’s backcountry. Capps is a co-founder of Oregon Shed Hunters, a group that promotes ethical shed hunting. Credit: Courtney Flatt/EarthFix
EarthFix Photo/Courtney Flatt

REDMOND, Ore. -- Every year deer and elk shed their antlers, and every year people try to find them. 

The sport is called shed hunting, and it's often a family affair. But some people do more than just search for dropped antlers on the ground -- they chase elk and deer to stress them out, which often causes them to drop their antlers. 

Oregon State Fish and Wildlife troopers James Hayes, left, and Darin Bean patrol several thousand square miles in Central Oregon, where mule deer are in decline.
EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

LA PINE, Oregon – The doe wandered across the wrong property. What’s left of her was a blood stain in a bathtub.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife Trooper Darin Bean found the remains in a house here in the high country. He had been searching for a man who had illegally shot a deer and had missed his court date.

Pinto abalone were near extinction by the end of the 1990s in Puget Sound. But with a little help from science, their wild populations are slowly rising.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

MUKILTEO, Wash. – In a dark fish tank at a government-run lab, a striking sea snail slowly inches from its hiding spot.

It’s a pinto abalone, and its numbers are dangerously low in Washington state after decades of overharvesting and poaching. This little-known animal is a delicacy, still served in U.S. restaurants, and its shell is a source of mother-of-pearl.

Inside Washington State’s Geoduck Auction

May 17, 2015
At this state geoduck auction, the winning bid was $333,000, which triggered a murmer of disbelief through the room.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Each year the Washington Department of Natural Resources auctions off permission to harvest geoduck (those long, rubber-necked shellfish) from certain areas throughout Puget Sound. The company with the highest bid earns the right to harvest a specific amount of geoduck at a set location during a defined time period.

Eagle feathers and parts are sent to the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository for redistribution to Native Americans for ceremonial use.
EarthFix/Kris Millgate

SWAN VALLEY, Idaho – It’s mud season in eastern Idaho. Winter is over. The reservoirs are filling, the ground is greening and the eagles are returning.

These birds are why researcher Michael Whitfield is in the woods.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency Friday.

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