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.

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Courts
7:50 am
Wed June 11, 2014

Dozens Of Oso Slide Legal Claims Filed Against Washington

A view of the slope where the Oso landslide took place. (File photo)
Snohomish County Flickr

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 5:49 pm

The deadly Oso landslide in March has resulted in a blizzard of legal claims against the state of Washington.

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EarthFix Reports
8:00 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Not Much Refuge In Klamath Basin For Migratory Birds

Wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin often feature a mixture of commercial agriculture and what remains of the historic wetlands.

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:06 am

This is the second part of a series on challenges facing wildlife refuges. Read part one here.

The nation’s original waterfowl refuge may be too dry this year to provide much hospitality for migratory birds arriving in the Klamath Basin.

You could blame it on the region's prolonged drought.

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Environment
4:04 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Japan Says It Wants To Resume Larger Annual Whale Hunt

The Japanese whaling ship Yushin Maru leaves Shimonoseki port in Yamaguchi Prefecture, southwestern Japan, last month. Japan's prime minister says he wants to expand whaling operations after they were temporarily scaled back.
Kyodo/Landov

Japan, which earlier this year said it would scale back what it has described as "research whaling," is signaling that it wants to go back to a larger hunt.

"I want to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

Japan, which is a signatory to a 1986 International Whaling Commission moratorium, has nonetheless continued to hunt cetaceans using a loophole in the ban that allows taking some whales for scientific purposes.

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Agriculture
1:06 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

California Farmers Ask: Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Some Water?

Allen Peterson's farm, near the city of Turlock, Calif., lies next to a concrete-lined canal full of water. He's one of the lucky ones.
Dan Charles/NPR

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 6:29 am

Imagine if a gallon of milk cost $3 in your town, but 100 miles away it cost $100, or even $200.

Something similar is happening right now in California with water that farmers use to irrigate their crops. Some farmers are paying 50 or even 100 times more for that water than others who live just an hour's drive away.

The situation is provoking debate about whether water in California should move more freely, so that it can be sold to the highest bidder.

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EarthFix Reports
10:32 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Oregon Firefighters Brace For Warm Temperatures, Gusty Winds As Fire Persists

The Two Bulls fire burns near Pilot Butte on Sunday.
Contributed photo / Lauren Martinez

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 8:49 am

Firefighters in Central Oregon braced for warm temperatures and gusty winds Monday as they continued to battle the Two Bulls fire burning west of Bend.

About 50 homes remained under evacuation notices Monday. Several area schools were also closed due to the fire.

The fire is estimated to be 6,180 acres. Incident commanders say the fire is burning in heavy timber and brush.

And they say although it’s only June, the fuel the fire is consuming is as dry as if it were July.

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EarthFix Reports
10:32 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Turning Around Malheur Wildlife Refuge One Carp Carcass At A Time

Invasive carp taken out of Malheur Lake are measured for height and weight to better understand the invasive fish that refuge staff are trying to reduce.
Devan Schwartz

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 1:00 am

This is the first part of a series on challenges facing wildlife refuges.

What could become the largest carp removal project in history got its start recently at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Oregon.

Commercial fishermen were brought in from the Midwest, where carp fishing is an established industry. Although these guys make a living fishing for huge volumes of carp and other invasive fish, the kind of haul they’re making on this day is on whole new level.

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Hot Summer
8:23 am
Mon June 9, 2014

The Blob: Not The Horror Movie, The Summer Weather Influencer

Sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees C drawn from NOAA/ESRL database.

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 4:30 pm

"The Blob" was the title of a 1958 sci-fi horror movie. It's also the nickname Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond has given to a large patch of warmer-than-normal seawater off the Pacific Northwest coast.

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Week In Review
12:18 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

SPU Shooting, Minimum Wage Passes, And Amazon Controversy Grows

Otto Miller Hall on the Seattle Pacific University Seattle campus, where a shooting took place Thursday afternoon.
Credit Courtesy Jillian Smith

A shooting on the campus of Seattle Pacific University on Thursday left one person dead and two others seriously injured. Seattle made history this week as the first city in the country to establish a $15 minimum wage for all workers. And the controversy surrounding Amazon's business practices continued to attract national media attention.

Steve Scher recaps those stories and more news of the week with Crosscut's Knute Berger, The Stranger's Eli Sanders, news analyst Joni Balter and Live Wire's Luke Burbank.

Week In Review Extra

President Obama this week announced new rules that would lead to a reduction in carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. He proposed new Environmental Protection Agency rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030. Is America up to the challenge?

EarthFix Reports
11:11 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Rapidly Spreading Sea Star Disease Spurs Talk Of 'Localized Extinction' In Oregon

The leg of this purple ochre sea star in Oregon is disintegrating, as it dies from sea star wasting syndrome.
Photo by Elizabeth Cerny-Chipman, courtesy of Oregon State University

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 3:21 pm

The first reports of the disease among Oregon sea stars — more commonly called star fish — came out in May. Now, according to Oregon State University, an estimated 30 to 50 percent of the Oregon populations of the ochre sea star species in the intertidal zone have the disease.

Researchers at Oregon State University have been monitoring the event. They say this species may be headed toward localized extinction in Oregon.

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Streamside Buffers
11:11 am
Fri June 6, 2014

EPA, Environmental Groups Reach Agreement To Protect Salmon From Insecticides

A steelhead trout in an Oregon stream. A new agreement restores buffer zones along streams where pesticides cannot be sprayed.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 10:07 am

Environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement Friday reinstating rules meant to protect salmon and steelhead from insecticides.

The agreement sets streamside buffers prohibiting aerial spraying within 300 feet and ground spraying within 60 feet of salmon and steelhead streams. The restriction applies to five different insecticides: diazinon, chlorpyrifos, malathion, carbaryl, and methomyl.

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River Health
3:05 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

'DamNation' Documentary Explores The Snake River Dam Controversy

The Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River in Washington.
Flickr Photo/Roberta Schonborg

Steve Scher talks to the filmmaker Travis Rummell, dam engineer Jim Waddell and Jim Ahern, a Lewiston, Idaho, native,  about the new documentary "DamNation." The film discusses the change in attitudes towards dam and river health.

Fire Season
7:24 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Northwest Fire Season Ramps Up East Of The Cascades

File photo of a 2013 wildfire near Goldendale, Washington.

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 3:05 pm

Workers in the Tri-Cities, Washington, area got notice Wednesday of tinder-dry conditions at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and were advised to practice fire safety at work and at home.

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EarthFix Reports
7:23 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Regulators Discuss The Future Of Coal-Fired Power In The West

This image of the coal-fired plant in Colstrip, Mont., was made in the 1980s by Montana native David T. Hanson. It was part of an exhibit at Modern Museum of Art in New York.
David T. Hanson http://www.davidthanson.net/

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 6:34 pm

SEATTLE -- The Obama administration’s new rules to cut carbon emissions fueled energy sector leaders' conversations about the future of coal in the West during their gathering here this week.

The Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners on Wednesday wrapped up its conference -- a gathering of the people who decide where the region's power comes from and how to regulate it.

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Courts
7:22 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Court-Ordered Negotiations Between Feds, Washington State Are Up

File photo of a nuclear waste storage tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 6:17 pm

This week is the deadline for the State of Washington and the U.S. Department of Energy to reach an agreement on how to clean up radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The two sides can’t agree on a timeline.

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Parenthood
7:21 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Wolf OR-7 Is A New Father

Two of wolf OR7’s pups peek out from a log on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, June 2, 2014.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 10:53 am

New photographic evidence shows that the famous wandering wolf OR-7 has fathered puppies -- taking his status from lonely vagabond on a 3,000-mile journey to history-making new dad in a month's time.

The images were made public Wednesday, just one month after remote cameras captured images of OR-7 and his likely mate in Southern Oregon.

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