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.

Correspondent Anna King brings us the sound of the front lines of the First Creek fire near Lake Chelan in north central Washington state.

Fires continue to burn around Lake Chelan in central Washington with the smoke now visible from space. Firefighters have the Chelan Complex fires about 60 percent contained but they're still battling other blazes and its unclear when all fires will be under control.

An increasing amount of research suggests the environment — an issue that has long been seen within the purview of progressive, white liberals — is now increasingly important to Latinos.

This photo from Aug. 16, 2015 shows several of the wildfires being fought in Washington and Oregon.
Courtesy of NASA

From space, the West looks like it’s on fire.

In Washington state, brown smoke obscures the Cascades in these photos taken by a NASA  satellite.

Most of the fires across the West have been triggered by lightning strikes, but years of drought have turned the forests bone dry.

Sky darkens as wildfires loom ahead.
Courtesy of Heather King

This summer, Ashley Ahearn was invited to the other Washington to participate in NPR’s new storytelling lab. She and NPR’s Jeff Brady had two weeks to co-host and produce a podcast on national energy and environment issues.

“Ashley and Jeff set out to create a tone that was curious and fun and really succeeded – not an easy task when dealing with environmental stories, which can sometimes elicit an “eating your vegetables” reaction,” said Michael May, head of the NPR Storytelling Lab. 

The Chelan Complex fires have grown to more than 112,000 acres and still have Lake Chelan surrounded. The air is so filled with smoke the horizon of the lake is no longer visible from the south end.

The Chelan Complex Fire in central Washington has now topped 100,000-acres and about 3,000 people have been evacuated.

Fires continue to burn around Lake Chelan in central Washington Monday. Nearly 3,000 residents have been evacuated so far and dozens of homes have burned as firefighters struggle to gain any control over the blaze.

A renewable energy company in Portland has cities across the globe taking a closer look at their water pipes.

Lucid Energy has designed a hydropower system that draws power from drinking water as it makes its way to the tap. Its turbines are small enough to fit inside a city water pipe, and they tap the power of gravity as water flows through.

Could A Mushroom Save The Honeybee?

Aug 18, 2015

Honeybees need a healthy diet of pollen, nectar and water. But at a bee laboratory in Eastern Washington, Steve Sheppard fills their feeding tubes with murky brown liquid from the forest.

His bees are getting a healthy dose of mushroom juice.

“If this does what we hope, it will be truly revolutionary,” said Sheppard, who heads the Department of Entomology at Washington State University. “Beekeepers are running out of options.”

The Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer sits on a transport vessel in Port Angeles, Wash., this spring.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The federal government on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell the final permit it needs to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades.

The Army is deploying 200 soldiers to help fight wildfires that are burning through about 1.1 million acres across the Western United States. That's according to a press release from the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

"It's been nine years since wildfire was so widespread all at once that active military troops joined firefighters battling blazes," NPR's Howard Berkes reports. "Four military C-130 cargo planes are also in use as air tankers."

The Environmental Protection Agency was investigating an old mine near Silverton, Colo., earlier this month, when it accidentally released 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into the Animas River.

Initially the agency downplayed the incident and provided little information. So Navajo President Russell Begaye traveled to the source of the toxic spill and posted a video of it on Facebook.

In the video, he stands in front of the still-leaking mine.

The giant sequoias in the Sierra Nevada are one of America's treasures, but for the first time in Sequoia National Park's history, the trees are showing visible signs of exhaustion due to the drought.

On a hike last summer, a scientist noticed that the needles of the giant sequoias were browning and more sparse than usual. This finding got ecologists thinking: Did the drought cause this?

Oregon Becomes No. 1 Wildfire Fighting Priority

Aug 16, 2015

As wildfires continue to spread, officials say the state's resources are stretched thin. Oregon is the No. 1 national priority, said Koshare Eagle with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

"We have a limited number of resources, and all of the resources are 100 percent engaged and committed on these incidents," said Eagle. "We don't have additional planes and helicopters to call in."

Pages