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.

Spokane’s City Council Monday voted on a November ballot initiative that would make the shipment of oil or coal by rail through the city a civil infraction. If it passes, every rail car carrying oil or uncovered coal will generate a $261 fine.

America has more than 560 wildlife refuges. Most of them are what you’d expect: remote, untrammeled places where humans are visitors.

It was hot at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., this weekend. Really hot. The iPhone weather app displayed a sweltering 100 degrees.

"It feels like a million degrees," says Tammy Long, who was visiting from Pennsylvania with her husband and 2-year-old daughter. "It's sweltering out here."

Parents and kids crowd under what look like giant shower heads throughout the park. Cool mist covers them from head to toe.

Families camp out in the shade, many with ice cream in their hands. Craig Saffoe says this works for the lions and tigers, too.

Oregon Timber Harvest Slips For 2nd Consecutive Year

Jul 25, 2016

Oregon’s timber harvest dropped 8 percent last year.

Before the great recession, Oregon was producing about 4 billion board feet of lumber a year. That dropped after the recession as people stopped building houses.

But it’s been climbing and for the last few years it’s been above 4 billion board feet again, thanks in part to a strong Chinese economy.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from communities north of Los Angeles because a wildfire is burning out of control in dry, hot canyons. More than a dozen homes have already been destroyed and a man was found dead in a car inside the fire zone on Saturday.

The man's home was one of those burned when the fire swept through Iron Canyon in Santa Clarita, Danielle Karson reports for NPR.

A Canadian city is putting warning labels on gas pumps

Jul 25, 2016
e
Andrea Crossan

Imagine going to fill up your tank and seeing a label on the pump that says what you are doing was causing climate change.

The city of North Vancouver in Canada is launching a new program to encourage drivers to think about being more energy-efficient when they drive — and that fossil fuels contribute to climate change.

The city council heard about the plan during a presentation last summer by teenage climate change activist Emily Kelsall.

This year’s fire season has had a slow start. The winter’s thicker snowpack and cooler temperatures this summer have helped keep large fires at bay, said Carol Connolly with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

"Part of the difference is the weather," Connolly explained. "We haven’t had the hot dry conditions that we’ve experienced the last few years. We have not had the lightning activity."

California, Oregon and Washington state have lofty goals for increasing the number of non-polluting vehicles on the road. To achieve those goals, you and your neighbors will need to buy electric cars at a higher rate that we're seeing now.

Hundreds of electric car enthusiasts and policymakers gathered this week in Portland to weigh how to accelerate consumer demand.

Friday is the public's last chance to comment on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee's plan to limit carbon pollution from the state's biggest emitters. But with a carbon tax on the November ballot, it won't be voters' last word on the matter.

George Ahearn and Beau Richards both work in downtown Bothell and say the fire there has left them with many questions.
KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

The employees of Bothell’s many small businesses watched the firefighting efforts Friday, while waiting for access to their buildings or for power to be turned back on.

Marcelle Allen: “We’re on Main Street in Bothell and people love this area and it’s really sad.”

Smack in the middle of this summer of American political and societal turmoil, I'm hearing a lot about how important it is to seek out and listen to people whose ideas diverge from one's own.

None of us should want to dwell in an echo chamber. Taking up this philosophy, today I embark on a series of conversations (to appear about once a month) with people whose ideas diverge significantly from my own.

The goal? To get past hard-and-fast assumptions, to open up a space for dialogue, and see what happens.

First up: hunting.

Deborah Wang speaks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about the Canadian reaction to Donald Trump's official nomination. Palmer also talks about Vancouver's housing market and the return of humpback whales to British Columbia.

When a Union Pacific oil train derailed and burst into fire in Mosier, Oregon, in June, the initial damage was in plain view, as dark smoke billowed into the sky.

Now OPB has learned about invisible damage: elevated concentrations of benzene and other volatile organic compounds in groundwater near the derailment site.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Texas oil company Tesoro and the purchaser of one of its refineries have agreed to spend $403 million to reduce air pollution at oil refineries in six western states under an agreement announced by the Justice Department on Monday.

Humpback whale off of Victoria, British Columbia.
Flickr Photo/Ivan Wong Rodenas (CC BY ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/Ehzb6P

This summer is proving to be a bonanza for whale-watchers.

According to The Pacific Whale Watch Association, tourists and researchers are seeing groups of humpback whales in the Salish Sea and Puget Sound nearly every day.

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