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.

Shareholders of Exxon Mobil and Chevron have voted to reject a series of resolutions aimed at encouraging the companies to take stronger actions to battle climate change.

But Exxon Mobil shareholders voted in favor of a rule that could make it easier for minority shareholders to nominate outsiders to the company's board, a potential victory for environmentalists.

Activist shareholders at both companies had placed an unusual number of resolutions on the ballot related to climate change.

Efforts to ban future crude oil projects in Vancouver are moving forward. The city of Vancouver’s planning commission voted Tuesday to prohibit future crude oil storage facilities.

“And to prohibit the expansion of any existing crude oil facilities," said Sandra Towne, the city’s long-range planning manager.

The proposal would also prohibit petroleum refineries, she said.

The Florida Everglades is a swampy wilderness the size of Delaware. In some places along the road in southern Florida, it looks like tall saw grass to the horizon, a prairie punctuated with a few twisted cypress trees. The sky is the palest blue.

But beneath the surface a different story is unfolding. Because of climate change and sea level rise, the ocean is starting to seep into the swampland. If the invasion grows worse, it could drastically change the Everglades, and a way of life for millions of residents in South Florida.

News of toxic lead in the air and water have many parents on high alert. Lead poisoning in children can cause permanent brain damage.

Mt. Rainier peeks between two houses in Orting, Washington.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

When geologist Carolyn Driedger talks about Mount Rainier, she feels like she’s trash-talking.


Supporters wore blue. Opponents wore red.

Hundreds of people from Oregon and Washington gathered at a public hearing in Longview Tuesday to offer their views on the proposed Millennium Coal Terminal.

The Northwest’s art glass industry is under the gun over what it’s putting in the region’s air. Portland-based Bullseye Glass is in the midst of a 10-day production moratorium and is cutting back staff. Last week, facing similar pressures, a Washington-based company decided to shut down for good.

Climbers descend Mount Everest in good weather.
Courtesy Madison Mountaineering

Death again has marked the climbing season on Mount Everest: four climbers died last week and two more are missing.

Seattle-based guide Garrett Madison’s team was hit by tragedy last year. But he told KUOW’s Emily Fox there was no doubt that he would return to the world’s tallest mountain.

People in India know the Sundarbans as a beautiful and dangerous patchwork of mangrove islands covering nearly 4,000 square miles extending into Bangladesh. It is also home to a variety of rare and endangered species and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Now, this watery landscape is getting international attention for a different reason.

Some of these islands are disappearing, swallowed up by rising tides. Tens of thousands of people who live in the Sundarbans have lost their homes in recent decades.

At the end of 2013, snowy owls started showing up far south of their usual winter range. The big white birds were reported in South Carolina, Georgia, even Florida.

Dave Brinker, an ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, had never seen anything like it.

South Africa will allow domestic trade of rhino horns again, after a seven-year ban. International trade of the horns is still barred.

The Supreme Court of Appeal rejected the government's bid to keep the domestic moratorium in place, National Geographic reports.

South Africa is "home to the world's largest rhino population, and nearly all of the world's 20,000 white rhinos," National Geographic adds.

Oregon’s House Interim Committee on Rural Communities, Land Use and Water held a hearing Monday on potential conservation measures for a remote high desert and canyon land area known as the Owyhee in Southeast Oregon.

Clean Air Advocates Converge On Oregon Senate Hearing

May 23, 2016

Hundreds of people, worried about clean air, converged on Oregon’s Legislature Monday, to speak at a senate hearing.

Last week Gov. Kate Brown issued a cease and desist order to Bullseye Glass, after air monitors identified it as a source of lead emissions.

Mary Peveto with "Neighbors For Clean Air" called it a sea-change event — for the state to use health as the basis for air emission standards.

A Beaverton middle school is the latest place to confront exposure to a toxic metal. Beaverton School District officials announced Monday they found lead in two drinking water fountains at Highland Park Middle School.

District staff have shut off the water fountains at Highland Park and provided water dispensers in classrooms. The district is not providing lead testing for students at the school, but they recommend concerned parents consult their children's physician.

Bullseye Glass is cutting back hours in response to a state order to limit its production. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality said the company may not make glass using a list of nine metals. Bullseye said this effectively eliminates 80 percent of its product lines.

Jim Jones, Bullseye’s director of sales, said for the next three weeks, about 15 employees will be idle.

Jones said people are not being dismissed outright, but the company expects some attrition.

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