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.

President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline last week because of environmental concerns, but the decision may not be enough to keep Canada’s controversial tar sand oil locked in the ground.

A photographer from Wenatchee, Washington, has made a revealing discovery at the scene of a remote and long-abandoned fire lookout: a pile of very old firewood.

Washington forestry officials have updated state guidelines for evaluating unstable slopes that, if logged, could contribute to landslides.

Oregon's Fish and Wildlife Commission voted Monday to remove wolves from the state's list of endangered species.

The decision changes little in the short term for Oregon’s known population of 81 gray wolves. A state management plan would continue to permit killing wolves only if they're caught in the act of attacking or involved in repeated livestock damage.

A Washington state senator says he will try again in January to convince his colleagues to ban marine mammal shows. That announcement Monday came as SeaWorld said it will end orca whale performances at its San Diego theme park next year.

When the sand on the beach threatens to overrun your house and your driveway, long walks on the beach might not seem quite so romantic anymore. Some Oregon coastal communities want to form a new type of governmental agency just to deal with the problem of too much sand.

Shane Underwood (left) and his son, David, stand at the Quinault Indian Nation’s seafood plant in Taholah, Washington. The loss of the largest glacier that feeds the Quinault River and rising seas are threatening the tribe’s way of life.
Ashley Ahearn, KUOW/EarthFix

TAHOLAH, Wash. - A big question will confront international leaders in the next round of climate talks in Paris: How do they help poor, island and coastal nations threatened by rising oceans, extreme weather and other climate change-related risks?

In the Northwest, sea-level rise is forcing a Native American tribe to consider abandoning lands it has inhabited for thousands of years.

Two of the largest timber companies in the United States, Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek, announced plans Monday to merge under the Weyerhaeuser name.

The combined company will be the largest private timberland owner in the South and the Pacific Northwest, with stock worth $23 billion and a portfolio of more than 13 million acres.

That includes 7.3 million acres of Southern yellow pine forests in the Southern U.S., 3 million acres of Douglas fir forest in Oregon and Washington, and 2.6 million acres of mixed hardwoods in Michigan and the Northeast.

Volkswagen is offering its diesel vehicle owners $1,000 in incentives, in what it calls "a first step" toward regaining their loyalty following the scandal over faked emissions tests.

The package is available to about 480,000 customers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico with 2-liter, four-cylinder diesel vehicles. They can apply to receive a $500 prepaid Visa card, a $500 dealership card and three years of free roadside assistance, the company said.

The sagebrush ecosystem is in trouble — thanks to invasive species and wildfires, which have damaged much of the land in the West. Now, to help restore some recently burned areas, inmates from central Washington are planting sagebrush that has been grown in prisons.

The vast steppe-like landscape near Ephrata, Washington, stretches almost as far as you can see. Most of the sagebrush is pretty healthy, if not too dense. But this 240-acre patch of public land was burned last year.

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

If you run into an oil man in a bar, you might want to buy him a drink. It’s been a bit of a tough week for the business. It was the end of the line for the Keystone XL pipeline, and possibly the beginning of big trouble for ExxonMobil concerning what it knew when about climate change.

Yakama Nation and Lummi Nation tribal members protest in May 2014 against the proposed coal export facility in Boardman, Ore. A Pacific Rim trade agreement raises questions about whether investors could challenge state decisions to stop such facilities.

After more than five years of negotiations and much secrecy, the Obama Administration released the full text of a controversial Pacific Rim trade deal Thursday. The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement streamlines business between 12 Asia-Pacific countries, including the United States.

In this Nov. 3, 2015, photo, the Keystone Steele City pumping station, into which the planned Keystone XL pipeline is to connect to, is seen in Steele City, Neb.
AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama rejected an application to build the Keystone XL pipeline Friday after seven years of federal review, declaring the proposed project wouldn't serve U.S. national interests and would have undercut America's global leadership on climate change.

Rare Blue Whale Washes Up On Oregon Beach

Nov 5, 2015

A 78-foot-long blue whale washed up on the shores of southern Oregon this week.

Though gray whales occasionally turn up on Oregon beaches when they die, it’s rare to find blue whales.

Bruce Mate, who serves as marine mammal director at Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center, said this is the first time he's seen a blue whale on Oregon beaches. He's been doing research in the state since 1968.

Newberry Monument Celebrates 25 Years

Nov 5, 2015

The Newberry Crater in Central Oregon celebrates 25 years as a national monument Thursday. The 55,000-acre federal monument was designated to protect the area from energy development.

Dr. Stu Garrett chaired a citizen's committee to protect the Newberry volcano three decades ago.

"I love the open space, I love the vistas," said Garrett. "I love the dramatic variety of volcanic occurrences there, the big obsidian flows."

The 1,200-square-mile Newberry volcano is about the size of Rhode Island.