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 Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission did not reject a controversial propane export terminal as opponents urged it to do on Tuesday.

Instead, the board voted 6-4 to recommend a zone change and a carbon fee. The recommendation goes to the Portland City Council for final approval.

Oregon lawmakers are turning their attention to earthquake and tsunami preparedness.

Across the Northwest, farmers are already making tough calls because of this year’s drought. The dismal snowpack is to blame.

The Swinomish Tribe has filed a lawsuit against BNSF Railway to stop oil trains from traveling through its reservation.

BNSF train tracks cross the top of the Swinomish Reservation in Skagit County. In recent years they’ve been used to move oil from North Dakota to two refineries in Anacortes.

Managers Likely To Cancel West Coast Sardine Fishery

Apr 7, 2015

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has yet to make the final call, but initial reports indicate there aren't enough fish to open a sardine fishery on the West Coast this year.

That's bad news for several fishing towns in Oregon and Washington, where the majority of the West Coast sardines were landed in the past several years, and where some processors focus primarily on sardines.

The latest population estimates show sardines have fallen below the 150,000 metric ton cutoff for opening a West Coast fishery.

A member of the Teanaway wolf pack in western Washington state. The wolf was in recovery from tranquilizing drug when this photo was taken.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Washington state’s wolf population grew by 30 percent last year – a big success for the state's wolf recovery plan.

But rancher Len McIrvin of Diamond M Ranch doesn't see why state conservationists are patting themselves on the back. And he finds it baffling that people are so fond of wolves. To him, they’re bloodthirsty predators.

If you’re at the Seattle Mariners season opener Monday you might run into some folks with clipboards, gathering signatures for a newly-announced initiative for 2016 that would tax carbon emissions.

The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon cap-and-trade proposal.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has been under fire for not requiring new water restrictions for the agriculture sector, despite historic rules restricting urban use by 25 percent.

On ABC’s “This Week,” Brown said that although more water is used in almond production than is used by all residents and businesses in San Francisco combined, the agriculture sector is too important to risk.

If you’re at the Seattle Mariners season opener Monday you might run into some folks with clipboards, gathering signatures for a newly-announced initiative for 2016 that would tax carbon emissions.

The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon cap-and-trade proposal.

If you’re at the Seattle Mariners season opener Monday you might run into some folks with clipboards, gathering signatures for a newly-announced initiative for 2016 that would tax carbon emissions.

The circulation of petitions to put Initiative 732 on the 2016 ballot signals a new strategy that may come into play if Gov. Jay Inslee and fellow Democrats in the Legislature are unable to pass their own carbon-tax proposal.

The Portland Convention Center is abuzz with activity. Security personnel and organizers chatter on walkie-talkies. Photographers and reporters pace the periphery. The audience is full of dignitaries; a who’s-who of Northwest politicians and public figures.

Then a voice – a cross between a game show host and debate moderator – fills the vast room.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the president and vice president of the United States.”

The applause comes slowly, with surprising hesitation, perhaps because no one really knows where this day - April 2, 1993 - is headed.

Last week, Governor Jerry Brown made water conservation mandatory in the drought-stricken state of California. "As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can," he said.

But if the four-year drought continues, conservation alone — at least what's required by the governor's plan — won't fix the problem.

Across California, communities are examining all options to avoid running out of water. Some, like the coastal city of Santa Barbara, are looking to the past for inspiration.

Northwest utilities are fighting pressure to end to all use of coal-fired power -- even when it's generated in places like Utah and Montana.

Many people are surprised to find out how much coal-fired power the Northwest still uses, even with all of its hydroelectric dams and wind farms. Oregon still gets about a third of its electricity from coal. In Washington, it's about 15 percent.

In the Northwest, fisheries managers move salmon around dams using trucks and cannons. Why not a tunnel under the city of Seattle?
KUOW Illustration/Kara McDermott, Flickr Photo/Premshee Pillai (CC-BY-NC-SA)

The tunneling machine known as Bertha has been stuck beneath the Seattle waterfront since December  2013, stalling construction and racking up millions in cost overruns. 

One local engineering firm has a fresh idea for the fumbling tunneling project: Instead of moving Subarus through the heart of the city, the tunnel should be used by salmon. 

Orcas Spotted Off Oregon Coast

Mar 31, 2015

Even orcas head south for spring break. L- and K-pod ocras made their way to Cape Disappointment off the Oregon Coast, according to NOAA Fisheries West Coast — Science and Management on its Facebook page.

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