Environment | KNKX


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

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Tim Durkan / Tim Durkan Photography

Bundle up and brace for what could be the coldest weather western Washington has seen in a long while, says KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass.

A blast of Arctic air is headed our way, creating what will be a major cold wave over the next several days. Mass says it’s going to get really wintry around here.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

King County Executive Dow Constantine is encouraging people who want to protect Puget Sound to buy British Columbia wines.

It’s the latest volley in a minor trade war between B.C. and its neighboring province of Alberta. Earlier this month, Alberta announced a boycott on British Columbia wines, with premiere Rachel Notley directing regulators to block roughly $50 million a year in wine imports.

John Kerry Visits Olympia To Support Inslee's Carbon Tax Proposal

Feb 14, 2018

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has been pushing hard to pass a carbon tax proposal. Though it’s been unpopular with some businesses and Republicans, on Tuesday he brought out an important ally.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

Members of Congress who represent Puget Sound are pushing back against the Trump administration’s budget for 2019 in part because it would zero out all federal funding for cleanup and recovery of the iconic ecosystem.

Ted S. Warren, File / AP Photo

The Trump administration has proposed its budget for fiscal year 2019.  It would once again gut funding for a multi-million-dollar federal conservation and outdoor recreation program.

Reaction in the Pacific Northwest was swift to President Trump’s proposed cuts to the cleanup budget at the Hanford Site.

Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, called the proposed $230 million cut “downright dangerous for everyone who lives near the Columbia River.”

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Stormwater runoff is the largest source of toxic chemicals entering Puget Sound. It happens when rain hits pavement and carries pollutants such as oil or brake dust into local waterways, and it turns out bridges are an especially big source of that runoff.

A local developer is piloting a solution that will be featured at a Green Infrastructure Summit taking place at UW Bothell Friday.

The head of Cooke Aquaculture says he's furious about "scare tactics" that he says are driving a push to end Atlantic salmon farming in Puget Sound. The Washington Senate voted 35-12 Thursday to phase out aquatic leases for net pens holding non-native fish.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Clean air regulations that have been in the works for a decade are proving too tough to implement for thousands of short-haul truckers who call on the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, The Northwest Seaport Alliance extended the deadline for compliance.

Carbon Tax Clears Washington Senate Committee

Feb 5, 2018

A tax on fossil fuel emissions is one step closer to becoming law in Washington state. An amended version of the carbon tax proposed by Gov. Jay Inslee passed the Senate Energy, Environment & Technology Committee Thursday night. 

courtesy Washington State Department of Natural Resources

A failure to clean and maintain its nets led to the net pen collapse at Cooke Aquaculture’s Cypress Island facility this summer and the escape of 100,000 more Atlantic salmon than originally reported. That’s the conclusion of an investigation by three state agencies into the August incident.

Many people are familiar with Google Street View, the online map that allows you to take a virtual walk or ride through a neighborhood. Now there’s a similar tool that lets you float down local rivers and waterways. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Many medium-sized businesses that consume large amounts of electricity may want to shrink their reliance on fossil fuels by committing to using solar or wind power. But their needs are often beyond what their local utility can provide from fully renewable sources.

A Seattle startup has launched a new online marketplace to address these issues and support the growth of clean energy developments, by matching smaller investors with projects that meet their needs.

Michael Probst) / AP Photo

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is in Davos, Switzerland, this week at the World Economic Forum. He is the only U.S. governor attending.

The Washington state House Environment Committee hosted public hearings Tuesday on two bills that would restrict a class of chemicals found in everything from firefighting retardant to food wrappers.

Perflourinated (PFAS) chemicals have been linked to numerous health problems, from endocrine disruption to cancer.

Dallas Glass / Northwest Avalanche Center

Washington state has some of the most beautiful mountains in the world for winter sports – and also the most deadly.

Last year, more people died in avalanche accidents here than in any other state in the nation.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Feeling out of place takes on whole new dimension when you’re in a foreign country. Perhaps no one understands this more than new immigrants and refugees. And there’s a woman who meets lots of them here in the Seattle area.

Sophorn Sim is an outreach worker for the environmental non-profit, ECOSS, connecting other refugees and new immigrants with resources and ways to live healthier lives.

The discovery of an "overwhelming presence" of radon gas has forced more than 100 workers at the Hanford Site to move their offices Thursday. This follows a series of radioactive contamination issues at that same demolition project on the southeast Washington nuclear site.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

Hillsides in Washington shaped by glaciers often provide stunning natural beauty that makes people want to live near them. They also come with a high risk of landslides, especially when logged.

The state Commissioner of Public Lands took to the slopes Thursday near Olympia to urge legislators to help state regulators minimize the hazards.

The last herd of caribou found anywhere in the lower 48 states is in the Pacific Northwest. To be clear, this caribou herd is tiny.

“Today, these are the last 11 that occupy habitat in the Lower 48.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is pushing for lawmakers to impose a tax on carbon emissions this year. But at a Senate public hearing Tuesday, some asked for more support for people disproportionately affected by the tax.

Rick Bowmer / AP Photo

A public hearing on Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal to tax fossil fuel emissions takes place Tuesday in Olympia. A coalition of environmental groups is urging people to go and organizing carpools to ensure a strong turnout.

They say the governor’s carbon tax is just one of at least three climate policies they want to see action on this session. And two groups have new polling data to back that up.


Washington is the only west coast state in the U.S. that allows Atlantic salmon net pen farming in open water. That may change in the wake of a summer spill of more than 300,000 of the non-native fish into Puget Sound.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is making another push for a state carbon tax. The Democrat unveiled his latest proposal Tuesday during his State of the State address.

Climate Activists Urge Washington Lawmakers To Take Action In 2018

Jan 8, 2018

Climate activists want Washington state to be powered exclusively by renewable energy within 10 years. They rallied at the state Capitol Monday—the first day of the legislative session.

Courtesy Washington Department of Ecology via AP Photo

As the state legislative session begins Monday, climate activists are out in full force in Olympia. They’re urging lawmakers to take bold steps to slow global warming.

Courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources

Cooke Aquaculture has filed suit against the state Department of Natural Resources. The company wants a court to reverse the state’s termination of its lease for an Atlantic salmon fish farm near Port Angeles.  

Courtesy Long Live the Kings

One of the biggest mysteries among people working on salmon recovery in Puget Sound and the Salish Sea is what happens to juvenile fish once they head for the ocean. Survival rates of Chinook, Coho and Steelhead have all declined since the 1980s, but resource managers don’t know why.

A new grant from Microsoft is using artificial intelligence to greatly improve the computer models used to tackle the question.

Elaine Thompson / File / AP Photo

Despite a very bad summer for local resident orca whales, this winter is shaping up as a premium time to see them from the shore. Orca watchers say the Southern Residents seem to be foraging for chum salmon after finding less Chinook than usual this year.

Dave Martin / AP Photo

Legislation is moving through the U.S. House that would weaken how fisheries are managed. That has several groups calling foul, including scientists, seafood producers and chefs, many of them in the Northwest.