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.

Inside Washington State’s Geoduck Auction

May 17, 2015
At this state geoduck auction, the winning bid was $333,000, which triggered a murmer of disbelief through the room.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Each year the Washington Department of Natural Resources auctions off permission to harvest geoduck (those long, rubber-necked shellfish) from certain areas throughout Puget Sound. The company with the highest bid earns the right to harvest a specific amount of geoduck at a set location during a defined time period.

Eagle feathers and parts are sent to the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository for redistribution to Native Americans for ceremonial use.
EarthFix/Kris Millgate

SWAN VALLEY, Idaho – It’s mud season in eastern Idaho. Winter is over. The reservoirs are filling, the ground is greening and the eagles are returning.

These birds are why researcher Michael Whitfield is in the woods.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency Friday.

Protesters hold signs around a table populated by UW Regents.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Ross Reynolds talks to Taylor Kuykendall, a coal reporter for SNL Energy, about the University of Washington's decision to divest from thermal coal.  

Protesters buzz along the West Seattle shore as the Polar Pioneer is hauled toward the Port of Seattle's Terminal 5 on Thursday, March 14, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Shell Oil pulls into Elliott Bay, the University of Washington pulls out of coal and President Obama is pulled in two directions. KUOW's Bill Radke debates carbon and its alternatives with environmentalist Bill McKibben, Alaska North Slope Port Authority executive director Paul Fuhs and panelists Eli Sanders, Chris Vance and Joni Balter.

Plus: Should we ban smoking in Seattle parks? Do Washington legislators deserve a pay raise? And do Seattle "brogrammers" deserve blame for a changing Seattle?

Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency due to low snowpack Friday.

Native American leaders gathered Thursday in Seattle to draw attention to the ongoing battle between tribes from British Columbia and around the Northwest, and the companies that want to export coal and oil to Asia.

Leaders from the Lummi, Spokane, Quinault, Yakama, Tulalip, Northern Cheyenne, Swinomish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nation of British Columbia gathered at the Ballard Locks in Seattle to call on the Army Corps of Engineers to deny permits for the Gateway Pacific Terminal, which could be built near the Canadian border.

A new project in Malheur National Wildlife Refuge intends to turn today’s invasive fish into tomorrow’s organic fertilizer.

The Refuge has entered into an agreement with Silver Sage Fisheries and Nutrient Company, a venture of Oregon-based Pacific Foods, to catch and process invasive carp.

Since introduction nearly a century ago, the common carp has overrun the Refuge in Southeast Oregon, severely degrading the once-prolific migratory bird habitat.

A souped-up paddle board, custom rowing craft and high performance, carbon fiber sailboats are just some of the eye-catching entries in the inaugural Race to Alaska.

Student Lorena Guillen shows her support for the UW Board of Regents, which on Thursday voted to purge the UW's endowment fund of investments in "thermal coal," a type of coal used in power plants that's associated with higher pollution levels.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The University of Washington’s Board of Regents voted Thursday night to sell off its investments in thermal coal -- the kind of coal used to generate power.

It’s only the fourth time the university has “divested” its endowment – the other issues were South Africa, tobacco and Sudan.

Dawn Woitt-Campbell sits on the front porch of her house in Longview, Washington.

“We’re looking at a green pan that we have boiled water in twelve different times,” she said.

The pot is caked with a hard, white chalky material.

“We do one gallon of water, boil it down to nothing. Then we’d put another one in and boil it down to nothing," she said. "I did it kind of as a project.”

Flickr Photo/Seattle.roamer (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Mycologist Paul Stamets calls fungi “the soil magicians of nature.” He says they were the first organisms to come to land 1.3 billion years ago.

Stamets has spent his career searching for ways to learn from nature’s secrets to heal humans and the planet. One focus of his research is Northwest mycelium. 

Foss Maritime tugs pull the Polar Pioneer past downtown Seattle on the way to Terminal 5 on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Environmental activists in kayaks paddled into the middle of Seattle's Elliott Bay  on Thursday afternoon to meet -- or, as they say, "un-welcome" -- a huge Shell oil rig.

The arrival of the Polar Pioneer could raise the stakes in the battle over Shell's oil exploration plans in the remote Arctic Ocean.  

Federal courts may force the U.S. Department of Energy to adhere to new timelines to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington state.

Student activists Angela Feng, Sarra Tekola and Alex Lenferna of Divest UW appear before the UW Board of Regents on March 12, 2015 to urge the university to get rid of its coal investments.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

David Hyde speaks with Vox.com writer David Roberts who says student activists at the UW and elsewhere are changing the debate about climate change by making it a moral issue.

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