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.

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Heat
7:46 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Hot Weather Complicates Fire Fighting Efforts

A view of the Mills Canyon fire, north of Wenatchee, Washington.

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 2:56 pm

Triple-digit temperatures are expected to complicate the effort to battle The Mills Canyon fire in central Washington.  

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Shoreline
10:15 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Lottery Winner Fined For Illegal Land Clearing On San Juan Island

The cleared property in December.
Washington Department of Ecology

Washington state officials have fined a Virginia man $79,000 for illegal clearing of a San Juan Island shoreline.

It’s trouble Dave Honeywell of Fredericksburg, Virginia, wouldn’t have gotten into if he hadn’t just won the lottery.

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EarthFix Reports
7:26 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Oregon Shuts Down Sewage Disposal Company After Numerous Violations

Oregon suspended the disposal license of All Out Sewer and Drain Service Inc., a company that handled waste from septic tanks and portable toilets, after the company committed numerous violations of state and federal law.
Bert CR/Flickr

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 6:37 pm

Oregon environmental regulators suspended the license of a waste disposal service this week after the company committed numerous state and federal laws.

Among its transgressions, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality: cutting a hole in a pipe leading to a publicly owned water treatment plant in Longview, Washington, and illegally dumping the sewage into it at night. The plant wasn’t authorized to handle such sewage.

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EarthFix Reports
7:26 am
Fri July 11, 2014

New Polling Shows Support In Northwest For Limits On Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Most Northwest residents in a recent survey said they think global warming is an urgent priority for state and local governments to address.
Heidi Nielsen/GoodWorks

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 5:54 pm

The survey was conducted for EarthFix by the independent and nonpartisan firm, DHM Research. A representative sampling of 1,200 residents of Washington, Idaho and Oregon participated and 62 percent of them said they consider it an urgent priority for state and local governments to address global warming.

A majority of respondents also registered support for specific proposals to reduce the emission of carbon that contributes to climate change.

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EarthFix Reports
7:26 am
Fri July 11, 2014

A Debate On The Proposed Killing Of Cormorants To Save Salmon

Three cormorants on East Sand Island
Vince Patton

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 5:49 pm

PORTLAND -- The public got its first chance to weigh in on the government's plan to kill nearly 16,000 cormorants nesting on an island near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed the lethal approach as the best way to reduce the number of birds that congregate at East Sand Island and feast on young salmon and steelhead making their way beyond the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.

Supporters and critics spoke out Thursday at the Matt Dishman Community Center in Northeast Portland.

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Forestry
7:55 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Start A Wildfire? Expect A Bill

File photo of 2013's Little Queens Fire near the town of Atlanta, Idaho.

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 4:54 pm

Whether it’s due to negligence or arson, thousands of wildfires each year are caused by humans. And the person or business who starts a fire can expect a bill.

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Environment
7:54 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Study Finds Forests Recover 'Quickly' After Fire -- In Tree Years Anyway

Odessa Lake and subalpine forest in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 5:12 pm

Fire season has come alive in the Northwest. On Monday, 20 homes in Idaho's Sun Valley area were briefly under evacuation when a fire broke out in a nearby canyon. A 5,000-acre fire north of Wenatchee, Washington, continues to threaten houses in the area.

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EarthFix Reports
7:34 am
Thu July 10, 2014

Washingtonians Could Safely Eat More Fish Under New Water Pollution Rules

Pollution standards introduced by Gov. Jay Inslee would allow Washington residents to safely eat more fish.
Flickr Photo / Michael B

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 1:45 pm

Washington's pollution standards would be made much tougher -- making water clean enough that people can safely eat a daily serving of locally caught fish and shellfish -- under a plan laid out by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The governor announced Wednesday that he wants Washington to set the same fish-consumption standards that guide water pollution rules in Oregon.

As a consequence, waters in Washington would be clean enough that people can consume 175 grams of fish a day, up from the current standard of 6.5 grams a day.

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Fish Industry
2:09 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

'American Catch': How Fish Go From Sea To Table

David Hyde talks to author Paul Greenberg about his book about fish production called "American Catch."

Environmental Health
9:16 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Governor Inslee Proposes New Water Quality Standards

Marcie Sillman speaks with KUOW reporter Ashley Ahearn about the specifics of Governor Jay Inslee's long-awaited proposal for how to improve water quality in Washington.

EarthFix Reports
7:45 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Poll: Most Northwest Residents Support Oil Trains But Don't Know Much About The Issue

Tank cars carrying petroleum crude oil are stationed at BNSF Railway's Willbridge Yard in Northwest Portland. The train come into Portland through the Columbia River Gorge, headed for a terminal in Clatskanie, Oregon.
Tony Schick

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 1:00 am

A 56-percent majority of Northwest residents support the transportation of oil by rail to reach West Coast refineries, with the refined oil being used for domestic purposes, according to a new DHM Research poll for EarthFix.

However, a 54-percent majority said they have heard or read little or nothing about oil trains.

The poll surveyed 1,200 residents across the Northwest – 400 each in Oregon, Washington and Idaho from June 25-30. The margin of error for each state’s results was 4.9 percent. the three-state regional results had a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

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Industry Regulations
2:50 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Can A 'Bigger Hammer' Stop Oil Refinery Accidents?

Ross Reynolds talks with Dave Fehling, energy and environment reporter for StateImpact Texas, an NPR reporting project, about oil refinery accidents and what happens when they're criminally prosecuted.

Environment
2:44 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

History Of The EPA: From Bipartisan To Polarized

Marcie Sillman talks with Georgetown law professor Lisa Heinzerling about the history of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the change of its scope over time. 

EarthFix Reports
8:28 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Euthanized Cougar In Portland Reawakens Regional Debate

This cougar was captured after several sightings in a Northeast Portland neighborhood. It was eventually euthanized.
Courtesy of the Portland Police Bureau

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 5:29 pm

A decision by state officials to euthanize a cougar in east Portland last week is drawing criticism from some wildlife experts – and raising questions on how concerned residents should be.

Brooks Fahy is the executive director of Predator Defense, a conservation group based in Eugene.

He says Portland residents shouldn’t be too surprised by a cougar sighting.

“Cougars have been moving through East Portland and Northwest Portland ... it’s nothing new,” Fahy said.

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EarthFix Reports
7:39 am
Mon July 7, 2014

A Northwest Utility Steps Back From Coal, Pivots To Natural Gas

Portland General Electric's Carty Generating Station will come online in two years. The natrual gas plant will power up to 300,000 homes.
Courtney Flatt

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 7:17 am

BOARDMAN, Ore. -- Even before the Obama administration’s recent proposal to curb carbon from coal-fired plants, some utility companies were turning away from coal and using more natural gas.

Exhibit A: Portland General Electric’s plans for its Boardman, Oregon location. It’s building a natural gas plant while shutting down its coal plant.

Construction crews are busy at PGE’s newest natural gas generating station. They’re getting ready to pour a concrete foundation for the plant.

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