Bellamy Pailthorp

Environment Reporter

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat from the Seattle offices of KNKX Public Radio News, where she has worked since 1999. She also hosts and produces the weekly segment, The Weather With Cliff Mass, which airs every Friday. She holds a Masters in journalism from New York's Columbia University, where she completed the Knight-Bagehot fellowship in business reporting in 2006 mid-career during her stint on KNKX’s Business and Labor Beat from 2000-2012.

From 1989-98 she lived in Berlin, Germany freelancing for NPR and working as a bi-lingual producer for Deutsche Welle TV after receiving a Fulbright scholarship in 1989 for a project on theater studies and communist history. She holds a Bachelors’ degree in German language and literature from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. (Yes, she is fluent in German.)

She strives to tell memorable stories about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Character-driven narratives of exploration and innovation excite her. 

Outside work, she practices and instructs yoga, walks half marathons with friends, backpacks with her husband and extended family, reads and watches fiction with nieces, enjoys tasting new foods and admiring all kinds of animals -- especially her two house cats, who often remind her she should spend more time sitting on the couch with them.

Ways to Connect

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX Pacific Public Media

Dramatic cuts proposed for the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency could hit home in the Puget Sound region.

The Region 10 office here, which covers ecosystems in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, employs more than 500 people.

In turn, many smaller firms around the Seattle area and beyond help write documents such as environmental impact statements to support EPA policies that many people fear could be wiped out by the Trump administration.

Credit Kevin Kniestedt

More than 23,000 people lost their lives following the 1985 eruption of Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia. In response, the United States Geological Survey and the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance created the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, to help prevent other volcanic eruptions from becoming disasters.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The sun broke through on Thursday this week, providing a much-needed respite from a string of wet days that has many Northwesterners longing for blue skies. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says he’s ready for more sun too. But he says this weekend will be a mixed bag.

“About 50-50,” Mass said is the ratio of rain to sun he expects in the days ahead. He says another frontal system was moving into the region Friday morning and a mini-atmospheric river aimed right at us.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Temporary fans and sump-pump hoses are whirring along inside the West Point Treatment plant. It’s still dark inside the tunnels where on February 9, a flood of sewage busted doors off and submerged everything up to 12-feet high.

Where we’re standing, we would have been underwater.  Plant manager Robert Waddle switches on a flashlight to show me around.

Ned Ahrens / King County Wastewater Treatment Division

The breakdown last month of Seattle’s wastewater treatment plant has poured hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated stormwater and raw sewage into Puget Sound. Repairs alone will cost an estimated $25 million. And it’s expected to take till the end of April to get the West Point Treatment Plant back to normal. Until then, the broken wastewater facility will be violating its permit and polluting Puget Sound.

COURTESY OF KING COUNTY WASTEWATER DIVISION

What caused the catastrophic failure of Seattle’s main wastewater treatment plant and how can the public be sure it won’t happen again?

King County Council members took emergency action Monday to ensure there’s a fully independent investigation.  

More Than Stormy Weather

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

After a very windy morning that took out power for about 4,000 people around the Puget Sound region, the strong wind is now moving into British Columbia. KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says most of the blowing is done in Washington, yielding to a showery Friday with much warmer temperatures.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

AquAdvantage salmon were the first genetically engineered animal product meant for human consumption to be approved by the FDA. It combines the genetic material of Chinook and Atlantic salmon with eelpout to make it grow nearly twice as fast as its conventionally farmed counterparts.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo / file

The recent settlement of a lawsuit alleging that coal trains are polluting waterways in Washington and Oregon secured $1 million for mitigation projects.  BNSF has also agreed to pay for cleanup of spilled coal in five sites along the Columbia River Gorge.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo / file

Environmental impact statements are often in the news. They’re lengthy public documents that government agencies have to issue before taking actions that might cause harm to ecosystems or public health.  Most often, they’re required before permitting of major infrastructure, such as sports stadiums or export terminals.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

U.S. Representatives from Washington have pledged to fight hard against cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency that would devastate efforts to clean up Puget Sound. They say a draft plan from the Trump administration would slash federal funding for the Sound by 93 percent, to just $2 million. 

Congressman Derek Kilmer says he’s expecting to see substantial cuts to the EPA, including money for Puget Sound.  He says the Trump administration has confirmed an intention to cut the agency overall by at least 25 percent.      

Generally speaking, after the end of February, weather in the Pacific Northwest starts to feel spring-like, as temperatures rise and the likelihood of major storms drops off considerably. But KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says this weekend doesn’t really fit that pattern.  

“It’s going to be wet; it’s going to be cool and it looks like what we’ve seen the rest of the winter – it’s really startling,” said Mass, who teaches atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington.   

Brennan Linsley / AP Photo

Dozens of scientists and their supporters will fill a library meeting room at the University of Washington this weekend, for a six-hour data rescue event. They’ll be joining a national effort to copy information from government websites that they fear might go missing under the Trump administration. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Saturday should provide a respite from the bout of rain and snow showers that have been hanging around Western Washington this week.

Best to get out and enjoy it if you can, says knkx weather expert Cliff Mass. On Sunday, the threat of snow showers returns, although temperatures will stay warm enough to keep much of the white stuff from sticking.

Get Outdoors On Saturday  

John Froschauer / AP Photo

More people than ever before are using mass transit in King County. Authorities say rides on buses and light rail totaled about 150 million last year, making Seattle the nation’s fastest growing large metropolitan region for transit use.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

The plume of moisture that was aimed at Western Washington earlier this week, bringing huge amounts of rain to the Northwest, is now over California. That means a relatively mild President’s Day here, while the Golden State is getting doused.

“All the weather’s going to California,” said knkx weather expert Cliff Mass.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

The race is on to get clean energy technologies to market, to help reduce the greenhouse gas pollution that causes global warming. A new lab at the University of Washington opened Thursday. It aims to close a critical gap in getting innovations from idea to prototype. 

The new facility is called Washington Clean Energy Testbeds. It’s a 1,500 square-foot lab inside the UW’s Clean Energy Institute, which was founded in 2013.  Director Dan Schwarz says they can now accelerate ideas that might otherwise never make it to market.

Mead Gruver, File / AP Photo

Plans to build North America’s largest coal export terminal in Southwest Washington may be moving forward. Project backers have filed an appeal, challenging the state’s denial last year of a lease. But questions remain about the financial viability of the project.  

The developers of the terminal in Longview are challenging the state Department of Natural Resources’ decision not to sublease state aquatic lands to them, saying it infringes on their property rights.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A burst of snow hit the Puget Sound region Thursday night, mixing with rain overnight in areas from Olympia to Bothell to Bellingham. An even bigger snow event could hit the region on Monday, but knkx weather expert Cliff Mass says it’s too soon to say whether that will in fact take place.

Mass says the air above the region has been cold enough for snow. So when a band of precipitation came up from the south Thursday night, it quickly morphed into the white stuff of winter.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Hundreds of anti-pipeline demonstrators chanted and waved signs outside of Seattle’s City Hall early Wednesday, before dozens crowded in to council chambers to testify in front of Seattle’s Finance Committee.

Paula Wissel / knkx

Seattle’s mayor has released new rules on how to clear encampments of homeless people. This comes as the city faces a class action claiming the current procedures are unconstitutional.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A good weekend for getting outdoors and enjoying nature lies ahead, with mild temps  and mostly dry conditions in the Northwest, and sun peeking through the clouds.

“It’ll be very nice, said knkx weather expert Cliff Mass on Friday morning. “A ridge of high pressure is building over us as I speak.”

He says the low clouds that are hanging around in places such as the South Sound will give way as the day progresses.

“It will be partly sunny by the afternoon, temperatures getting up into the upper 40s to around 50. So, really decent day,” Mass said.

Tjflex2 / Flickr Creative Commons

The Suquamish Tribe and two environmental groups have filed notice that they plan to sue the Navy over work on the decommissioned USS Independence that they say is polluting Sinclair Inlet near Bremerton, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo / file

Though the Dakota Access Pipeline is more than a thousand miles away, many voices in the fight against it are local — and not just the protestors in the streets.    

A Seattle lawyer is representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: Jan Hasselman, with Earth Justice says they will push back against President Trump’s order to push the pipeline through.  

Washington Dept. of Ecology / AP Photo / file

State legislators concerned about oil transportation safety in Washington have introduced new proposals to strengthen spill prevention and response. They’re concerned about the increasing use of pipelines and tankers and the potential impacts that could have on Puget Sound.

Canada’s approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline is expected to increase oil tanker traffic through Puget Sound by as much as sevenfold. But there’s concern that regulations to keep it safe are lacking.

Leonel I. Mallari / AP Photo / file

Each year, as lawmakers get to work in Olympia, the state’s largest environmental groups agree on legislative priorities. This session, the Washington Environmental Council and the Washington Conservation Voters are focused on water rights, oil transportation safety and cleaning up toxics.   

Sunset as seen in Seattle on Jan 15, 2017.
Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Relatively mild temperatures and typical damp, showery weather will continue this weekend, providing more relief from the cold spell that lasted through last weekend. And next week will be drier while remaining warm, says knkx weather expert Cliff Mass.

Bellamy Pailthorp / knkx

Washington state is suing the nation's largest student loan company, joining the federal government and the state of Illinois in alleging unfair and deceptive practices with lending and debt collection.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Donald Trump takes office later this week as President of the United States. After his election, many students in the Seattle area walked out of classes in protest. At a small public school in Redmond, they took a different approach. Students there have vowed instead to counter Trump’s threat to pull out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. They say even if the U.S. doesn’t meet the carbon reduction goals in the accord, they will.

Wonderlane / Flickr Creative Commons

Clear skies and cold temps have been dominating the weather in Washington lately, and that pattern is expected to continue for the next couple of days.

“They go together; that’s the bargain, the meteorological deal,” says knkx weather expert Cliff Mass. “These really cold days and cold nights tend to be clear,” he says of the Northwest winter.

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