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.

The Seattle Aquarium Photo/Lesanna Lahner

The Seattle Aquarium has a new sea otter pup named Mishka – that’s “little bear” in Russian. She was orphaned in Alaska last July, after she got caught in a fishing net.

Now she's getting used to her new home. At the aquarium earlier this week, Dr. Lesanna Lahner stands among throngs of elementary school kids.

Have electric cars been on the market long enough to stand on their own without public subsidies?

Chris Hickey lives on three acres in Washougal, Washington with his wife, son and two massive dogs.

“We get salmon and steelhead up here in the creek. It’s one of the cool things about the house," Hickey said while walking across a metal footbridge above the fast moving water.

The creek is surrounded by a bamboo grove so thick the leaves practically block out the sky.

The "rock pile" is a popular spot for recreational diving and fishing.
Courtesy of Howard Cunningham

The Navy plans to build a new pier and support buildings on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles, to the chagrin of some locals. One of the proposed sites is right on top of a popular recreational diving and fishing spot.

The $16 million plan includes three proposed sites along the 3-mile sand spit that separates Port Angeles from the Strait of Juan De Fuca.

SEATTLE -- A federal agency says a Puget Sound tribe has not made a convincing enough case to to halt the permitting process for the largest proposed coal export facility in the country.

Oregon Bill Would Eliminate Coal-Fired Power By 2025

Feb 4, 2015

A bill in the Oregon Legislature this session would require electric companies to stop delivering coal-fired power to Oregon customers by 2025.

The replacement power would have to come from sources that are 90 percent cleaner than coal plants.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton) and Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), targets coal-fired power coming into Oregon from out of state. Oregon's only coal-fired power plant in Boardman is scheduled to be retired in 2020.

Southern Oregon communities along a proposed natural gas pipeline route are looking for creative ways to stop the project. Douglas and Coos County residents hope a Community Bill of Rights will give them a legal avenue to assert local control.

The pipeline for the proposed Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay would run through the property of Stacey McLaughlin. She doesn’t want it there. And speaking out before government officials has been less than satisfying.

“It feels like a waste of my time,” she said.

Legislation Would Mandate Bigger Crews On Oil Trains

Feb 4, 2015

A growing number of oil trains rolling through Washington has emergency responders and rail workers calling for bigger crews on board to better protect human health and the environment.

WINTHROP, Wash. -- Snow blankets the landscape in north central Washington. What you can’t see is the scorched earth left from last summer’s Carlton Complex fire.

Even through the snow, Susan Prichard, a fire ecologist for the University of Washington, can see the damage. She can also see signs of recovery in the bitterbrush and aspen trees.

Tracking salmon as they move past Columbia River dams just got a little easier. Scientists are using a new tag so small that researchers can inject it with a syringe into the fishes' bellies.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Army Corps of Engineers have been working with tags since 2001. This newest version is the smallest yet, about the size of two grains of rice. The older tags are three times heavier.

Federal regulators say Oregon is not doing enough to protect water quality in coastal areas. A ruling Friday on the state’s coastal nonpoint pollution control could end up costing the state millions.

The city of Joseph is calling on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to control its deer problem.

"Being a small town in eastern Oregon we've always had deer in town. For years they lived in the field outside of town, and then they'd migrate in, in the evening," says Dennis Sands, mayor of Joseph. "But over the last three or four years there's very little migration and they're just living in town. They have no fear of humans."

The state estimates about 200 deer are living in Joseph. They often destroy gardens and can be a hazard for drivers.

Low Fuel Prices Benefit Northwest Farmers

Jan 30, 2015

Oregon farmers say that low fuel prices could mean a big boost to their bottom lines -- if prices remain low until the summer.

There's not much agricultural production happening right now in the Northwest. But if fuel prices stay down in the coming months, farmers throughout the region could feel the benefits.

Many farms rely on diesel fuel to transport products and run field machinery. Petroleum products are also used to make fertilizer.

Washington state has set a six-mile quarantine circle around a new major bird flu site in near Riverside in north-central Washington.

This month Seattle’s Port Commission gave the OK for Shell Oil’s arctic drilling fleet to make West Seattle its home port. The move has been criticized by environmental groups. Ross Reynolds speaks with Seattle-based journalist McKenzie Funk to find out what impact Shell’s lease here will actually have.

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