Environment

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

Ways to Connect

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.

Urban development is encroaching on forests and impacting the love lives of some songbirds in the Pacific Northwest.

Updated at 7:40 a.m. ET

By the time Ceree Morrison found hundreds of pilot whales washed ashore on a remote beach in New Zealand 250 to 300 of them were already dead. The rest remained alive on Farewell Spit, a long strip of land that hooks from the country's South Island into the sea.

The scene was devastating.

For the first time in more than a century, plains bison are roaming in Canada's oldest national park. Banff National Park is hailing their return as a "historic and cultural triumph."

Helicopters lower the shipping containers carrying bison into a valley, in video posted on CBC. Then the doors of the containers swing open and bison charge into the park where they have deep historical roots.

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.

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.  

The Oregon Department of Agriculture said it's recorded the largest Japanese beetle infestation in the state's history. But officials hope to stop the pest from spreading with an aggressive eradication program.

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.   

Grizzly bears have been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act since 1975. In Washington, they are considered endangered. Last week, federal officials unveiled their draft plan to reintroduce grizzlies in North Central Washington.

Scientists are trying to determine why a group of at least 95 false killer whales stranded themselves on a remote coast in Florida's Everglades National Park. At least 82 of the animals have died, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"This is the largest mass stranding ever for this species in the United States," NOAA Marine Biologist Erin Fougères said, "And one of the largest mass strandings we've ever had in the southeast."

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.

Jim Urquhart / AP Photo

Grizzly bears once roamed the rugged landscape of the North Cascades in Washington state but few have been sighted in recent decades.

Federal officials want to restore the population, and on Thursday released a draft plan with four options, ranging from taking no action to varying efforts to capture bears from other locations and transplant them to 9,800 square miles of mostly public land surrounding North Cascades National Park.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated the rusty patched bumblebee an endangered species — the first such designation for a bumblebee and for a bee species in the continental U.S.

The protected status, which goes into effect on Feb. 10, includes requirements for federal protections and the development of a recovery plan. It also means that states with habitats for this species are eligible for federal funds.

Jeff Barnard / AP Photo / file

A controversial recreational activity called “suction dredge mining” has led to moratoriums on the practice in California and Oregon. But Washington continues to allow it. Conservation groups have now threatened to sue the state unless new regulations are passed.

Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to an hours-long rescue operation of a deer hopelessly stuck on ice in Simsbury, Conn.

The scared deer splayed on the frozen river was streamed live by several television channels on Monday, in some cases for more than three hours, as rescue workers tried to get it to safety.

Jackie Johnston, File / AP Photo

Environmental groups are asking a federal court to halt 11 infrastructure projects on four lower Snake River dams in Washington state that could ultimately be removed following an environmental review now underway.

The notice filed late Monday in Portland, Oregon, estimates the cost of the projects at $110 million.

Andrew Reding / Flickr Creative Commons

How to protect marbled murrelet habitat in state-owned forests is in the spotlight this week in Washington, as the state’s Department of Natural Resources kicks off a series of public meetings on a range of strategies for a 50-year conservation plan of the endangered seabird.

A powerful winter storm in California has brought down an ancient tree, carved into a living tunnel more than a century ago.

The "Pioneer Cabin Tree," a sequoia in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, saw horses and cars pass through it over the years. More recently, only hikers were allowed to walk through the massive tree.

Over the weekend, a powerful winter storm slammed into California and Nevada, prompting flooding and mudslides in some regions. The Associated Press reports it might be the biggest storm to hit the region in more than a decade.

Andy Clayton-King / AP Photo

A coalition of activists will gather at the federal building in Seattle Thursday afternoon to demonstrate against the Dakota Access Pipeline. They’re calling on the public to join them in defunding the project by closing accounts at Wells Fargo Bank. 

The protestors say they’ll start the action across the street from the federal building at the Wells Fargo Center, where a large number of them will close their accounts and lodge complaints. That will be followed by speeches, singing and drumming from Native American activists and leaders. 

Courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources

In what's being praised by local tribes as a renewed victory for tribal treaty rights, Washington state's Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve is gaining 45 acres that were once left out for possible development. 

Laurie McKenzie / Organic Seed Alliance

As eating local and organic produce gains popularity, researchers are looking for more crops that can extend the growing season through the winter months in the Northwest.

Mark Schindler / Flickr via Compfight

Winter in the Northwest can be challenging, with so many dark days. One strategy for getting through is to go outside and enjoy the weather, whatever it is. Starting this weekend, you can snowshoe with a forest ranger at four locations in the Cascades. They even provide the snowshoes.

Fred Felleman

Sixteen environmental groups have sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers with concerns about increasing oil tanker traffic in the Salish Sea. They say a final environmental impact statement for expansion of an oil refinery north of Bellingham is long overdue — and needed now more than ever.  

On Monday, a rare and beautiful thing happened: There was a dusting of snow on the red sand dunes of the Sahara.

The snow fell on the northern Algerian town of Ain Sefra, which is known as the "gateway to the desert."

Karim Bouchetata, an amateur photographer there, grabbed his camera and took a number of photos before the snow melted later that day. He uploaded them to Facebook, where the surreal images quickly went viral.

Ted S. Warren, File / AP Photo

The Washington State Department of Ecology is recommending more aggressive efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the state. The agency has submitted new targets to the Legislature.

Ted S. Warren, File / AP Photo

It’s sometimes called the evil twin of global warming. Ocean acidification happens when carbon pollution from the sky is absorbed by the water. Washington state has been a leader in addressing the issue locally. 

And now the state has joined a new international alliance to fight ocean acidification on a global scale.  

Washington state began addressing the problem of ocean acidification in earnest back in 2011, when then-Governor Christine Gregoire appointed a blue-ribbon panel on the issue. 

Pages