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.

Mount Rainier, or Tahoma, Tacobet, Ti'Swaq or Pooskaus.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Mount McKinley is reverting to its native Alaskan name, Denali. So how about renaming Mount Rainier? Plus, Seattle teachers, who might strike next week, are in a union – should Uber drivers be, too? And which words are too offensive for the college classroom?

Bill Radke discusses the week’s news with Eli Sanders, Knute Berger and Erica C. Barnett.

Waterside Energy announced Wednesday plans to expand its proposed energy project in the Columbia River town of Longview, Washington.

In addition to a crude oil refinery, the company now wants to build a $450 million transload facility for liquid propane and butane gas, also known as LPG for liquified petroleum gas.

One unit train – about 115 tank cars long – would arrive from Canada at the facility every day, Waterside Energy CEO Lou Soumas said.

“Then loading it on gas carrier to go to the Asian markets,” he said. “The customer base is export.”

Fishing Restrictions Temporarily Lifted In NE Oregon

Sep 3, 2015

Fishing restrictions on 10 bodies of water in Northeast Oregon have been temporarily lifted effective immediately, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The ODFW announced the relaxed rules, which will impact lakes and ponds in Baker, Union, Umatilla and Wallowa counties, Wednesday.

Heidi Cornell and her husband Rick were evacuated three times from their home in the Okanogan area. This is a Google Earth view of Greenacres Road, where they live with their animals.
Google Earth

My husband is telling me to come home.

“It’s close,” he says.

“How close?”

“Within two miles, coming toward us.”

A seedling planted in a burned area of the Klamath National Forest in 2008.
Flickr photo/USFS Region 5

Marcie Sillman speaks with Mike Tupper, deputy assistant director for resources and planning at the Bureau of Land Management, about how conservationists are helping Washington's wild lands recover.

Part of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington.
Flickr photo/ Philo Nordlund

Kim Malcolm speaks with Anna King of Northwest News Network about the most recent lawsuit involving the Hanford nuclear site in eastern Washington.

Human-Caused Fires Strain Resources In The Northwest

Sep 3, 2015

Ninety-seven large wildfires have burned on 1.5 million acres across Oregon and Washington this season. Of those fires, 43 were started by lightning. At least 12 were human-caused, but dozens more remain under investigation.

In a series called Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound, Morning Edition has been profiling scientists who explore the natural world by listening to it.

But sometimes listening isn't enough — scientists have to record animals and even talk back to them to figure out what they're saying.

Fire managers in the Northwest say the recent rain doesn't mean the wildfire danger is over. Some parts of the Northwest got more than an inch of rain in the last week of August.

A view of the sea near Kivalina, Alaska, in May 2014. Normally the ice would have been solid into June.
Suzanne Tennant

President Barack Obama becomes the first sitting president to set foot on U.S. soil north of the Arctic Circle on Wednesday. Marcie Sillman talks to Nadine Fabbi, managing director of the Canadian Studies Center at the University of Washington, about why the Arctic is increasingly important to U.S. foreign policy.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson Wednesday announced a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy and some of its contractors over worker safety at the Hanford nuclear site.

Houseboats on Lake Union in the Eastlake area.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Marcie Sillman speaks with Ken Brettmann, senior water manager for the Army Corps of Engineers' Seattle District, about why Lake Washington and Lake Union have hit record low water levels, what the consequences might be for boaters and floating homes, and what he's doing to fix the problem.

Tom Zbyszewski
Courtesy of Jesse Michener

Among the three firefighters who lost their lives last month fighting the wildfires in Okanogon was one with a connection to poetry. Tom Zbyszewski, 20, grew up in the Methow Valley.

That got KUOW's literary producer and Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth Austen thinking about how Pacific Northwest poets have responded to wildfires. She talked with Marcie Sillman about poems by Kevin Goodan and Nance Van Winckel.

A wildfire can burn more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s more than twice as hot as the surface of Venus. Its flames can reach more than 50 meters high.

Wildfires can get so big that they create their own weather systems, with hurricane force winds. On the ground, the average wildfire moves twice as fast as the average person can run.

How do wildland firefighters tame such an inferno?

After Denali, Should Oregon Change Mount Hood's Name?

Sep 2, 2015

Days after President Barack Obama signed an executive order renaming Alaska’s Mount McKinley to its traditional Alaska Native name, “Denali,” OPB’s Think Out Loud discussed the idea of changing Mount Hood’s name to the Native American name Wy’east.