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.


Climate Change
4:55 am
Sun July 6, 2014

Study Shows Penguins Endangered By Waning Antarctic Ice

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 9:50 am



You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. A study published in the journal "Nature Climate Change" says, the population of Emperor penguins in Antarctica is in danger. Hal Caswell is a scientist emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He co-authored the report. And he joins us from Amsterdam. Welcome.

HAL CASWELL: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: You've been studying the Emperor penguin population in Antarctica. What's happening to them?

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EarthFix Reports
10:25 am
Wed July 2, 2014

Rail Workers Raise Doubts About Safety As Oil Trains Roll On

Tank cars, many of them placarded as holding crude oil and other hazardous materials, sit in a BNSF yard in Northwest Portland.
Credit EarthFix Photo/Tony Schick

Curtis Rookaird thinks BNSF Railway fired him because he took the time to test his train’s brakes.

The rail yard in Blaine, Washington, was on heightened security that day, he remembers, because of the 2010 Winter Olympics underway just across border in Vancouver, B.C.

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Author Interview
3:55 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Here's Why The Great Barrier Reef Matters To You, In Seattle

A turtle swims in the Great Barrier Reef.
Credit Flickr Photo/University of Denver (CC-BY-NC-ND)

David Hyde talks with author Iain McCalman about his new book, “The Reef — A Passionate History: The Great Barrier Reef from Captain Cook to Climate Change.”

3:58 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Could Limiting Evaporation Help With Drought?

Water levels have dropped at Lake Travis because the drought, May 16, 2011. (Lower Colorado River Authority)

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 12:06 pm

Most of the southwestern U.S. is in the midst of some level of drought. Parts of California, Nevada, Oklahoma and Texas are all seeing extreme drought, as rainfall and winter snowpacks have been far below average.

One of the biggest factors affecting water supplies in these hot, dry places is evaporation. Reservoirs can lose as much water to evaporation as the water that’s actually pumped out of them for drinking water.

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Radke In The Morning
3:12 pm
Wed June 25, 2014

How A Melting Glacier Can Mean Lower Sea Levels (For A While)

new report funded by former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg says climate change is bad for business, with up to $100 billion in coastal real estate underwater by 2050. 

The report projects Seattle's sea level to rise as much as three feet by the end of this century. That’s not because nearby Alaskan glaciers are melting, however. Taken by themselves, those melting Alaskan glaciers could actually cause sea level to drop in the short term.

KUOW's Bill Radke talks with Climate Central scientist Ben Strauss about how that works.

9:27 am
Wed June 25, 2014

Baltimore's Water Wheel Keeps On Turning, Pulling In Tons Of Trash

Since the water wheel began churning in May, it has removed 40 tons of trash from Baltimore's Inner Harbor.
Clearwater Mills LLC

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 11:31 am

Baltimore's Inner Harbor is a city landmark teeming with tourists, restaurants and — until recently — floating trash.

John Kellett used to walk by Pier 6 every day on his way to work at the Baltimore Maritime Museum on the Inner Harbor. He'd notice the trash floating in the water and hear tourists call the harbor disgusting — and it bugged him.

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EarthFix Reports
7:13 am
Wed June 25, 2014

More Than 15 Oil Trains Per Week Travel Through Washington

An oil train moves through Skagit County in Western Washington, headed to refineries in the Northwestern part of the state.
Katie Campbell

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 5:53 pm

The public learned Tuesday just how many trains are hauling oil from North Dakota through Washington:

Fifteen per week through 10 different counties, according to railroad notifications released by the Washington Military Department.

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11:40 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Oklahoma Experiencing Dramatic Increase In Earthquakes

Chad Devereaux examines bricks that fell from three sides of his in-laws home in Sparks, Okla., Nov, 6, 2011, following two earthquakes that hit the area in less than 24 hours. (Sue Ogrocki/AP)

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 11:47 am

So far this year, Oklahoma has had more earthquakes of a magnitude 3.0 or greater than any other state in the country — including California. More than 200, just since January.

This is a new and remarkable phenomenon. Just five years ago, Oklahoma was averaging only two 3.0 earthquakes a year. Now, it’s averaging one or two a day.

Scientists are saying that oil and gas-related activity, including fracking and wastewater disposal wells in the state, may be partially to blame.

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EarthFix Reports
7:30 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Conservationists Push To Expand Rogue River Wilderness Area

Pete Wallstrom, owner of Momentum River Expeditions,would like to see more environmental protection for the Wild and Scenic Rogue River.
Devan Schwartz

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 1:00 am

On the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act, many conservationists are pushing for an expansion of the wilderness surrounding the iconic Rogue River.

Each year, the Rogue River in Southern Oregon welcomes a busy summer season of rafters, kayakers and fishers.

Robyn Janssen, the clean water campaigner with Rogue Riverkeeper, rowed a boat down the river during a recent trip to discuss the wilderness proposal.

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EarthFix Reports
7:30 am
Tue June 24, 2014

BNSF Won't Seek Injunction To Stop Release Of Oil Train Info In Washington

Tank cars carrying crude oil at BNSF Railway's Willbridge Yard in Northwest Portland. BNSF Trains carry Bakken crude through Washington and into Portland, where they transfer to a shortline headed to a terminal in Clatskanie, Oregon.
Tony Schick

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 11:04 am

BNSF Railway says it's not going to court before Monday's deadline to block Washington state from releasing oil train notification information under its public records law.

"BNSF does not intend to file an injunction regarding prospective handling of the information provided," spokeswoman Courtney Wallace wrote in an email Monday. "The determination about how such information is controlled or communicated is ultimately a decision for the federal government and subsequently the Washington State Emergency Response Commission."

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EarthFix Reports
7:06 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Federal Salmon Plan Heads Back To The Courtroom

Fish supporters Tuesday once again challenged the government’s plan to manage dams on the Columbia River to protect endangered salmon and steelhead.
Aaron Kunz

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 2:36 pm

It’s back to court for the federal government and salmon advocates. Conservationists Tuesday once again challenged the government’s plan to manage dams on the Columbia River to protect endangered salmon and steelhead.

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EarthFix Reports
7:06 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Combating Algae One Dollar At A Time

Toxic algae blooms contributed to closing some of some of Oregon's lakes, ponds and reservoirs for a combined total of more than 700 days in 2013 alone.
Oregon Health Authority

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 4:00 pm

Millions of dollars in new funding to help combat harmful algae in Oregon and throughout the country are just a presidential pen stroke away.

Toxic algae blooms contributed to closing some of Oregon’s lake, ponds and reservoirs for a combined total of more than 700 days in 2013 alone.

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EarthFix Reports
7:35 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Conservation Group Files Lawsuit Against Timber Sale Near Oregon's Crater Lake National Park

The presence of a newly formed wolf pack is the latest issue in the ongoing legal fight over whether logging should go forward on a parcel of forestland near Crater Lake National Park.
Oregon Wild

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 8:47 am

The recent discovery of Oregon's wandering wolf, known as OR-7, and his new pups is one of the reasons a conservation group filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a logging project near Crater Lake National Park.

Oregon Wild filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service in District Court in Medford Wednesday.

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Hot And Dry
7:33 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Fire Season Increases Potential For Hazardous Smoke

File photo of a fire in the Douglas Complex in southern Oregon in 2013.

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 5:49 pm

Hot and dry conditions are expected to create above-normal wildfire conditions in parts of the Northwest this summer. While relatively few people will have to flee the flames, many more will experience a side effect of the fires: thick, acrid smoke.

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Environmental Health
2:22 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Pregnant Women Should Eat More Fish, Unless It Was Caught In Puget Sound

Flickr Photo/Rob Bixby (CC-BYC-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with Bill Daniell, an associate professor at the UW's School of Public Health, about Washington's fish consumption rate — a little number that has a big impact.