Environment | KNKX

Environment

Stories about the environment focused on the Pacific Northwest, with many from KNKX's Environment reporter, Bellamy Pailthorp.

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Aptly nicknamed Washaway Beach, in Pacific County, Washington, has long suffered from the most extreme coastal erosion along the whole U.S. West Coast. Now a relatively low cost defense is raising hopes among property owners and nearby cranberry growers.

courtesy Rob Harmon, MEETS Coalition. MEETS stands for 'Metered Energy Efficiency Transaction Structure.'

One of the most effective sources of so-called ‘clean energy’ is increasing efficiency, so less is needed to heat or cool or light a building.

A new program from Seattle City Light incentivizes landlords to invest in those upgrades.

Gexydaf / <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/90821451@N00/5527708847/">Gexydaf</a> Flickr via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

The Federal Transit Administration has approved $75 million dollars for expansion of Tacoma’s Link Light Rail line.  

The money will be used to more than double the line, which currently runs from the Tacoma Dome to the Theater District downtown. The extension will connect it to a U-shaped route that heads first north to the Stadium District then back south into the Hilltop neighborhood.   

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

A diverse array of groups from all over Washington State gathered in Seattle this week to rally support for Initiative 1631. That’s the latest proposal to curb carbon emissions by imposing fees on big polluters.

Courtesy Jenny Shrum / American Camp National Historical Park

It would be a bit of a stretch to call zoologist John Fleckenstein a beginner.  He recently retired from a long career as a kind of wildlife detective. He worked with Washington State’s Natural Heritage Program, looking for and studying the behaviors of all kinds of rare creatures.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Gov. Jay Inslee wants Washington’s maritime industry to be the most sustainable in the world. And Seattle’s strong ties with Norway are proving useful. A delegation of experts is visiting this week to share information on electric-powered ferries and autonomous ships.

Courtesy Long Live The Kings

Saving salmon and steelhead in Washington state can seem like a mission with miserable prospects.

But one nonprofit has made it into a game that they say is a lot like fantasy football, and schools are involved this year.

Senator Maria Cantwell questioned the acting head of the U.S. Forest Service, Vicki Christiansen, this week. Among the senator's top concerns: there may not be enough air support for fires in the West this year.

Ben Torkelson / Chelan County Fire District 3 via AP)

Wildfire season used to start in mid-June, say state officials coordinating the response. Now they’re already out fighting wildfires in April, even in places west of the Cascades.

"Fire season is already here,” said Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hillary Franz.

A federal watchdog agency said Wednesday that it's hard to prove that Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant is safe. 

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Concerns about the future of Bothell Country Village top the agenda of the city’s Landmark Preservation Board meeting Tuesday evening.

A new book is out that will likely be of interest to anyone who has just moved to the region and maybe even to some old-timers.  

Explore The Salish Sea is a nature guide for kids. It’s about the unique marine ecosystem that connects Puget Sound with Canada. It’s aimed at fifth and sixth graders and based on a previous edition made for adults. Both books use lots of colorful photos and facts to showcase the abundant life that depends on the Salish Sea.

Students from Oregon State University, Granite Falls High School in Washington and the University of British Columbia are among 99 teams pushing the boundaries of automotive fuel efficiency. The Northwest students are driving in an international competition in California through this weekend.

Ted S. Warren / file / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in what many observers are calling a historic showdown that will determine who has to pay to fix our "roads" for salmon – and how quickly.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, is raising concerns among environmentalists.

John Froschauer / AP Photo

Community groups are building coalitions region-wide, aiming to stop expansion plans by the U.S. Navy.

Operating since 1942, the naval air station on Whidbey Island is not new. But the recent replacement of its electronic warfare aircraft has upset many residents in the area.

In congressional testimony Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said he has heard the strong opposition from the West Coast to the Trump administration's plan for offshore oil and gas drilling. He expressed doubt drilling would ever happen along the Pacific Northwest coast.

Karen Reagan / US Fish and Wlidlife Service

Federal wildlife officials want to protect a rare green-and-white butterfly that is only found on San Juan Island by listing it as an endangered species.

The tiny creature has been declining since it was rediscovered twenty years ago. Its population is now estimated at fewer than 200 in the wild.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

A hydroelectric project that threatened to diminish scenic waterfalls on the South Fork of the Skykomish River near Index will not be built.

Phoung Lee / AP Photo

The Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion “will be built,” according to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who says it’s in the national interest. However, opposition in British Columbia caused the company on Sunday to put the $7-billion dollar project on hold till the end of May, citing too much uncertainty.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Opposition groups are applauding an announcement from Kinder Morgan Canada. The oil giant has put expansion of its Trans Mountain Pipeline on hold until the end of May as the company seeks clarity on a path forward.

Forests and grasslands in Eastern Washington state are at high risk for large, intense wildfire. This spring Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to using controlled burning on more than 1,000 acres in Okanogan, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Confronting the likely effects of climate change can feel overwhelming. One recent graduate in atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington is channeling that fear into an ambitious athletic feat.

Eliza Dawson is joining three other women to row across the Pacific to Hawaii this summer. They hope to beat the world record in what she’s calling a race for the climate.  

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

More than 1,300 scientists, policy makers and other interested parties are attending next week’s Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Seattle.

The meeting happens every two years and alternates between the U.S. and Canada.  This year, the 30th anniversary since the first one took place in 1988, there’s an emphasis on ecosystem recovery across the international border.

The U.S. Department of Energy is launching a federal investigation into a demolition site at the Hanford nuclear reservation where radioactive waste from the site has been spreading in unexplained ways.

Now that electric cars are a common sight on the nation's highways, and prototypes exist for electric trucks and airplanes, could electric ferries be next?

The 2018 state transportation budget signed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday includes money to look at converting some of the state ferry fleet.

The new person in charge of regional firefighters at the U.S. Forest Service has called for an increase in prescribed fire and a change in attitude about wildfires.

Alan Vernon / flickr via Compfight

Scientists from the Audubon Society and the National Parks Service have teamed up to look at the effects of climate change on birds. The study predicts the behavior of 513 species across 274 national parks in summer and winter.     

The authors found on average nearly a quarter of the bird species found in popular park destinations could be completely different by mid-century.  

Mr. Jincks Flickr via Compfigh cc

The pressure is on Starbucks to create a disposable coffee cup that doesn’t end up in the trash. After a lengthy campaign that featured a huge puppet made of discarded cups and a petition with more than 800,000 signatures, the company announced a new $10 million initiative to develop a cup that is fully recyclable or compostable. 

It may still be wet and muddy out there, and snow may even be on the ground in some places, but it’s also the time of year when wildland firefighters start to gear up for hot, dry weather and wildfires.

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