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.

WINTHROP, Wash. -- This summer, the Carlton Complex wildfire swept through central Washington’s Methow Valley. The fire consumed more acres than any other fire in the state’s history. Now, ecologists are trying to make forests more sustainable to help prevent these large-scale fires.

Fire ecologist Susan Prichard was driving from Seattle to her home in Winthrop just as the Carlton Complex fire picked up.

Northwest lawmakers voted along party lines as the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to reject a plan to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

This is the second part of a three-part series, “What A Waste: Why We Have To Stop Throwing Food Away.”

A pile of food waste can make rich compost for the garden. But some Northwest companies are going beyond composting. We discovered three companies that are turning it into energy to power homes, race cars and city buses.

Flickr Photo/Ilja Klutman (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds interviews Denis Hayes about the forthcoming book he co-wrote with his wife, Gail Boyer Hayes, called “Cowed: The Hidden Impact of 93 Million Cows on America’s Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Economy.”

The couple was on a driving tour of Great Britain when they noticed many small herds of cattle. That got Denis Hayes, an environmentalist who organized the first Earth Day and now heads the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation, thinking about the impact of cows.

SEATTLE -- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee took the handoff Monday for his latest run at putting a price on carbon emissions.

It happened at a gathering at Seattle City Hall, where the chair of his task force on climate change, Ada Healey, delivered a set of options to the Democratic governor.

"Here you go, there’s a bow on it. It’s red," she joked.

Options put forward for Inslee's consideration include a carbon tax and a cap-and-trade system. The task force did not make recommendations on either approach to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Scientists Solve Mystery Of West Coast Starfish Die-Off

Nov 18, 2014

SEATTLE -- After months of research, scientists have identified the pathogen at the heart of the starfish wasting disease that’s been killing starfish by the millions along the Pacific shores of North America, according to research published Monday.

They said it’s a virus that’s different from all other known viruses infecting marine organisms. They’ve dubbed it “sea star associated densovirus.”

No One Said Curbside Composting Would Be Easy

Nov 18, 2014

This is the second part of a three-part series, "What A Waste: Why We Have To Stop Throwing Food Away."

Seattle and Portland are working to reduce the environmental impacts of food waste by offering curbside composting. But no one said it would be easy. The cities have faced challenges from foul odors, lack of participation and plastic contamination.

This is the first part of a three-part series, "What A Waste: Why We Have To Stop Throwing Food Away."

Wasting 40 percent of all the food produced in the U.S. certainly has its drawbacks:

It's not feeding people in need, it's expensive and it does a lot of environmental damage.

A new study out of Canada reveals a surprising side-effect that hunting may have on wolves.

Male seeks female — and makes a direct advance towards mating. That's one version of the drive to reproduce in the animal kingdom.

It's a hot summer day outside Lincoln, Neb., and Jack Chappelle is knee-deep in trash. He's wading in to rotting vegetables, half-eaten burgers and tater tots. Lots of tater tots.

"You can get a lot of tater tots out of schools," Chappelle says. "It doesn't matter if it's elementary, middle school or high school. Tater tots. Bar none."

A long-negotiated series of agreements to manage water in the Klamath Basin in Southern Oregon and Northern California received Senate committee passage Thursday.

“This legislation is the result of a historic collaboration of efforts,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden during the committee meeting.

Paying Wind Generators Not To Produce Power

Nov 13, 2014

The Bonneville Power Administration operates the federal hydropower dams in the Columbia Basin. In springtime, during snow melt, there can be so much water in the river that – combined with the output of the dozens of wind farms that have cropped up in Oregon and Washington – there’s more electricity in the system than anyone can use.

Dam operators could dump the extra water over the spillways. But as the BPA’s Doug Johnson explains, that causes problems for salmon and other fish.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute announced Monday that trace amounts of radioactivity from Fukushima have been detected off the West Coast.

Lead in text: 
Glaciers set the North Cascades apart. Their runoff allows fish to navigate streams when rainfall is scarce. Their trickle gathers in rivers with currents powerful enough to generate hydroelectricity for millions of residents. But they're not powerful enough to withstand climate change.
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