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.

Baltimore protest, 4/28/2015, Freddie Gray
Flickr Photo/Arash Azizzada

Is a property damage as protest ever justifiable? Did Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant cross the line in criticizing a colleague? What will the Shell Arctic drilling protests accomplish? Bonus: Should Seattle PBS station KCTS pull its own plug?

Bill Radke discusses the week’s news with Tonya Mosley, Eli Sanders and Chris Vance. 

Oregon’s U.S. senators want to put a $175 fee on each older model railroad tank car used to ship flammable oil.

Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined four other Democrats in introducing a bill Thursday that would create a surcharge on each DOT-111, a tank car model known to be flawed and puncture-prone.

Air pollution caused by wood stoves in Washington is in line with federal clean air requirements for the first time in seven years.

Rivers Recover Rapidly Once Dams Are Gone, Study Finds

Apr 30, 2015

A new study sums up what scientists now know about the environmental effects of removing dams from rivers.

It concludes that rivers and fish respond quickly after a dam is removed, and the results are mostly positive.

"Heraclitus has said you can't step in the same river twice,"said study co-author Gordon Grant. "Well, you don't get exactly the same river back after you take a dam off it that you had before, but you can come pretty close. In some cases, it can even be difficult to identify in just a few years where the dam was."

Oregon LNG Considers Federal Permit After County Permit Withdrawn

Apr 30, 2015

Oregon's Land Use Board of Appeals Wednesday upheld the rejection of a permit for a liquefied natural gas facility proposed for Warrenton.

Clatsop County commissioners turned down a pipeline permit for the facility in 2013.

Now LUBA says they were within their rights to do so.

Opponents of the $6 billion project call the ruling significant. They say a local land use permit is necessary before the state can approve it.

But Peter Hansen with Oregon LNG says the facility is ultimately governed by federal rather than local regulations.

Test Driving The Electric Highway

Apr 30, 2015

The West Coast Electric Highway is a network of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles that runs all the way from Vancouver, Canada, to the California border. Oregon completed its section of the electric highway this month, with the installation of a charging station at a Fred Meyer store in Brookings, near the California border.

When reporter Tom Banse heard that, he rented a Nissan LEAF and drove the length of Oregon to try out the electric highway.

OPB’s All Things Considered host Kate Davidson called him on the road.

Seattle decreased the amount of fluoride it puts in drinking water in 2011.
Flickr photo/Vicki Timman (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Fluoride levels in water should be reduced, a federal agency said this week – but don’t expect a decrease from taps in Seattle anytime soon.

Until the state changes its fluoride standard, cities and counties that fluoridate their water can't immediately follow the recommendation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Commissioners at the Port of Vancouver voiced their support Tuesday for a rail safety bill introduced in the U.S. Senate late last month.

All three commissioners voted in favor of a resolution supporting the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act of 2015.

The bill was drafted by Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, and aims to improve rail safety by requiring national standards for moving crude oil by rail.

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey are trying to figure out whether smartphones might be used to give earthquake warnings.

People standing above the epicenter of a large earthquake will feel the ground shaking before those on the periphery of the quake. The same can be said of their smartphones.

Ben Brooks with the USGS says if a computer was checking for simultaneous movement of a large number of smartphones, it could give people on the periphery of a quake a 10 or 20 second warning.

That's enough time to stop a surgeon from making a cut, he said.

Seattle billionaire Paul Allen is financing a campaign that could ask Washington voters to impose penalties for selling animal parts from certain endangered species.

The proposed ballot measure aims to protect 10 keystone species: elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, lions, leopards, cheetahs, pangolins, marine turtles, sharks, and rays.

A container ship at the Port of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Bari Bookout (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with economics reporter Jon Talton about climate change's affect the economy of the Pacific Northwest.

To some people, sea lions are smart, lovable creatures that shouldn't be harmed in any way. To others they're loud, destructive pests that need to be controlled.

As sea lion populations grow, both sides have gripes about how these hulking pinnipeds are being managed on the Columbia River.

Why Have Seattle's Urban Forests Dodged Development?

Apr 26, 2015
Lisa and Jim Crisera were embroiled in a bureaucratic quagmire over this one small corner of their house, which they found out was on Seattle Parks land.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

“With so much building going on in Seattle, why haven’t urban forests like Interlaken and Ravenna been developed?”

Adam Goch of Greenwood asked that question as part of KUOW’s Local Wonder project.

Oil Train Safety Legislation Passes In Washington

Apr 25, 2015

Olympia -- State lawmakers gave final approval Friday to a bill meant to increase oil train safety.

The bill was taken up in response to the uptick in oil train traffic in the region. It directs oil taxes to help pay for oil-train spill response. It also imposes public disclosure requirements for railroad companies operating in Washington.

Oregon fish and wildlife commissioners decided Friday that it's time to consider whether gray wolves have recovered enough to take them off the state's list of endangered species.

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission launched a public process to decide if the wolf population is robust enough to remove state endangered species protections. A final decision on the issue won’t likely be made until later this summer.

In 1946, that state considered itself rid of wolves. That was the year when the last bounty was claimed for a wolf killed in the state.

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