Ashley Ahearn

Cedric Sam/Flickr

China banned shellfish imports from most of the West Coast in December over concerns about contamination.

Ashley Ahearn / KUOW

Steelhead in Puget Sound have been listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act since 2007. Millions of dollars have been spent improving the habitat of this iconic fish, but the population isn’t increasing. In fact, a lot of the fish aren’t even making it out of Puget Sound and scientists can’t pinpoint why.

China has closed its doors to all shellfish imports from an area that stretches from northern California to Alaska. The state of Washington says it's losing as much as $600,000 a week.

Among the shellfish not being harvested is the geoduck, a long-necked clam that can fetch up to $150 per pound in China. It's a major export for the Pacific Northwest.

China and Hong Kong have closed their doors to all shellfish imports from an area that stretches from northern California to Alaska. The move is costing the shellfish industry in Washington State hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ashley Ahearn reports.

ahhyeah / Flickr

On Wednesday the Washington Shorelines Hearings Board blocked local permits for two oil train terminals in Grays Harbor.

gibbseynz/Flickr

As Washington and Oregon consider proposals for three coal export terminals, many have raised questions about how much coal dust could come off the trains that would service those terminals. If the Gateway Pacific Terminal is built near Bellingham up to 18 coal trains could travel along the I-5 corridor every day. According to new research, some dust will escape from those trains.

There’s a county council election taking place in the far Northwest corner of Washington state that could play a major role in the future of the U.S. coal industry.

Whatcom County could one day be the home of the largest coal export facility on the west coast – which would transfer coal from trains onto ships bound for Asia.

The Whatcom County council could cast the deciding votes in the permitting of the Gateway Pacific Terminal.   

That’s put this election in the spotlight.

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the EPA calling on it to do something about the acidifying waters of the Northwest.

The ocean absorbs millions of tons of greenhouse gases every day, and those gases are lowering the ocean’s pH and causing problems for shellfish and other creatures.

Under the Clean Water Act a water body can be declared “impaired” if it is too acidic.

Then it falls on the EPA to regulate the source of the pollution that’s causing the problem. In this case – CO2 emissions.

Environmental and commercial fishing groups filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday calling on Washington State to update the fish consumption rate. The groups say the state has failed to acknowledge how much fish people eat. That standard will dictate how much pollution is allowed into the water before fish are dangerous to eat.

Right now there is a 22-foot-long totem pole on the back of a truck heading up I-5 from Seattle. It's come all the way from the coal mines of Montana's Powder River Basin and will finish its journey north of Vancouver, B.C. The totem pole represents tribal opposition to coal exports in the region. There are 2 proposed coal terminals in Washington and one in Oregon. The largest one could be built next to the Lummi tribal lands north of Bellingham, Washington. The coal would arrive by train and then be shipped to Asia.

Monday (9/16) the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians will meet in Coeur d’Alene for their annual convention. Representatives from more than 50 tribes around the region including California, Nevada and Alaska will come together to discuss a variety of tribal business.

GovInslee

Governor Jay Inslee was in Arlington, Washington Wednesday to celebrate the opening of a new cleantech facility that will employ 70 people.

The Mayor’s office has released a report detailing the potential economic impacts of coal exports on Seattle. The report looked at how an increase in coal train traffic through the city would affect property values, roads, traffic and local businesses.

Across the Western U.S., yearly areas of snowpack are decreasing, and researchers are trying to figure out what that means for everything that relies on the snowmelt — from farms to power plants to a little creature known as the Cascades frog.

Greg Schechte, GregTheBusker

Way up in the mountains of the Northwest you’ll find a little amphibian known as the Cascades Frog. This frog thrives in alpine wetlands, which are dependent on snowmelt. But snowpacks are decreasing across the West. And scientists are trying to figure out how the frogs will adapt to their shrinking habitat. And they’re using some pretty interesting research methods to do that.

Ashley Ahearn / KUOW

Wednesday the Department of Health closed some shellfish beds in South Puget Sound for the first time due to elevated levels of Diarrhetic Shellfish toxin.The biotoxin made 3 people sick after eating mussels harvested in Sequim Bay in 2011.

The largest dam removal in U.S. history is running into problems. Over 200,000 fish were found dead at a hatchery on Washington's Elwha River after a water pump failed over the weekend.

There are now 15 confirmed deaths in the oil train explosion that rocked a small town in Quebec Province over the weekend.

The tragedy has given the commissioners of the Port of Vancouver in Washington pause as they consider a proposal for a terminal to move oil from trains onto ships. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Chris McKenna / Wikimedia Commons

The debate over coal exports in the Northwest moved to Washington D.C. Tuesday. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn testified alongside representatives from the mining and natural gas industries in a congressional hearing about energy exports.

Nilfanion / Wikimedia Commons

The Blue whale is believed to be the largest animal ever to exist. But nobody remembers number two. Fin whales are the second largest animals on the planet, weighing in at around 80 tons. And they’re very mysterious creatures. Now scientists have gained better access to the giant whale’s secret lives – almost accidentally.

Roger Geach / Wikimedia Commons

The number of coal export terminals under consideration in the Northwest has dropped to three, that’s from a high of six last year.

Callum Black / Wikimedia Commons

A coalition of environmental groups that oppose exporting coal through terminals in the Northwest have announced plans to file a lawsuit against BNSF Railway and several coal companies. The groups say coal that escapes from trains is polluting the water and should be regulated under the Clean Water Act.

The Washington state legislature has just passed a bill that will come up with a strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The bill was introduced by request of Gov. Jay Inslee.

For over a decade, state and federal agencies have been trying to figure out how to clean up Seattle’s Duwamish River. The Duwamish was declared a superfund site in 2001. It’s contaminated with dioxins, PCBs and other hazardous chemicals left over from years of industrial use. The Environmental Protection Agency has just released their proposed plan for public review.

Governor Jay Inslee made one of his first public appearances since his inauguration at a breakfast for the Capitol Land Trust in Olympia on Tuesday. Several hundred people gathered for the conservation group’s annual breakfast.

NOAA website

 In recent years, millions of larval oysters in Northwest hatcheries have died because the water has become too corrosive for them to form their shells. Washington could be the first state in the country to introduce legislation to deal with the economic and environmental threats posed by ocean acidification.

It's about 25 degrees on a clear Saturday morning when Gregg Treinish — executive director of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, a nonprofit that puts volunteers to work gathering data for scientists around the world — gathers a small group of outdoor adventurers around him near the Duckabush River in the Olympic National Forest in Washington state.

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

On Monday the Seattle City Council announced a new plan to take action on climate change. As global temperatures rise, so does sea level, and some reports predict that by the year 2050 key parts of Seattle could be underwater at high tide.

Keeping up with transportation infrastructure isn’t cheap. The Washington State Transportation Commission estimates that in the next 20 years around $200 billion needs to be put towards the maintenance of roads, ferries and more.

Pessimist / Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Chris Gregoire has just released a long awaited report on ocean acidification. At a public ceremony today she announced major funding for the execution of some of the report’s recommendations.

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