Ashley Ahearn

Photo Credit: Ashley Ahearn

Human beings are really good at paving stuff. Such as parking lots and roads.  Our development patterns have very real effects on water quality.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A fire that burned roughly 250 acres in Mason County two weeks ago has been put out. Now biologists are concerned about the potential impacts on local salmon runs.

A fire that burned roughly 250 acres in Mason County last week has been put out. Now biologists are concerned about the potential impacts on local salmon runs. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Governmental agencies announced Tuesday plans to conduct a joint environmental review of a proposed coal export facility near Longview, Wash.

Photo Credit: Nathan Bevier/Wiki Commons

At a convention today Thursday, tribes from around the Northwest released a joint statement calling for a full environmental analysis of five proposed coal export terminals in Oregon and Washington.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued a kill order for an entire wolf pack in the northeastern part of the state. There are between eight and 11 wolves in the Wedge Pack. Government officials and ranchers in Stevens County believe the pack is to blame for two more injured calves this week.

The Lummi Tribal reservation lies to the North of Bellingham, very close to the proposed site of a large coal export terminal. On Friday the tribe is expected to announce their opposition to the facility.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

When the Clean Water Act was created 40 years ago rivers were on fire and raw sewage was spilling into some waterways. The Act has accomplished a lot over the years - reining in the largest industrial polluters and improving water quality, overall.

But there are some emerging contaminants the Clean Water Act was never designed to control, and they are affecting the environment in new and different ways. Ashley Ahearn has the latest installment in our ongoing EarthFix series “Clean Water: The Next Act."

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A new report released Thursday brings together the best data on the environmental health of Puget Sound. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Photo by Erik Stockdale / Wikimedia Commons

The waters of Puget Sound are a pretty noisy place, if you’re an orca. But what does a passing tanker ship or motorboat sound like to a killer whale? How does it affect their behavior? Ashley Ahearn reports researchers are trying to find out.

Photo by: Gunnar Ries Amphibol / Wikimedia Commons

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has re-issued the kill order for four wolves in a pack in the Northeastern corner of the state. Starting Wednesday marksmen will take to the field, Ashley Ahearn reports.

State officials have called off orders to kill four members of a wolf pack in Northeastern Washington. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

Algae biofuels just got a boost. A small biotech company in Seattle announced Wednesday that they’ve secured enough funding to expand their research on how to cultivate blue-green algae to make fuel. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Northwest News Network

American coal companies are looking to the Northwest as the fastest way to bring their product from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana to Asian markets. There are now 5 ports in Washington and Oregon considering coal export terminals. In part two of our series on Coal in the Northwest we head to the site of what could one day be the largest coal export facility on the west coast, Bellingham, Washington. 

Photo courtesy Bureau of Land Management

There are now 5 ports in Washington and Oregon considering building export terminals to ship American coal to Asia. The coal would come from mines in Wyoming and Montana and would travel by train through the Northwest. That has governmental agencies, environmental groups, tribes, labor unions and industry in an increasingly fierce debate. As part of EarthFix’s ongoing coverage of coal in the Northwest, Ashley Ahearn brings us this story from Wyoming coal country.

The company behind a proposed coal export terminal in Grays Harbor has decided not to go ahead with the project. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

The Washington coast is home to some of the strongest tidal currents in the country. Some want to harness those tides for power. Ashley Ahearn reports a proposed tidal power facility in Puget Sound is running into some trouble.

A Seattle-based seafood company has been fined 430,000 dollars for violations of the Clean Air Act. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Icicle Seafoods harvests and sells salmon, crab Pollock and other fish from the waters of the Northwest and Alaska. And one of the key components of catching fish and bringing them to market – is refrigerant.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / Northwest News Network

The Department of Energy estimates that 350 billion KWH of energy are flushed down drains in the form of heated water. King County is one of the first counties in the nation to try to do something about all that wasted heat energy. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports.

Photo by Joe Mabel / Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

This fall marks the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act – a piece of legislation that changed the way waterbodies in this country are regulated and protected.

Pollution was supposed to be curtailed so that fish from all the waters in America would be safe for people to eat. 40 years later, though, many waterways still bear fish too tainted to consume safely.

One of the most polluted waterways in the Northwest is Seattle’s Duwamish River. We’re taking a look at the Duwamish as part of EarthFix’s series “Clean Water: The Next Act.”

Photo by Joe Mabel / Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Seattle’s Duwamish River has been the industrial heart of the city for a century. It’s been straightened, filled and diked. During World War II thousands of airplanes were built there. Today cargo from around the world arrives in massive container ships, lining the mouth of the river. Industrial facilities dot its banks.

As part of EarthFix and Investigate West’s series on the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Ashley Ahearn takes a look at the Duwamish River now – and how its future recovery could play out.

Every summer millions of Americans take to the open road and head to National Parks. But some road warriors are louder than others. Motorcycles are one of the largest contributors to noise pollution in the parks. EarthFix's Ashley Ahearn reports.

The first debate between the leading candidates for Washington governor took place Tuesday in Spokane. The candidates were asked for their stance on the coal export issue. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / Northwest News Network

Barker Creek cuts through the semi-rural landscape of hobby farms and small towns on Washington’s Kitsap Peninsula. And like many small waterways in this region, Barker Creek has had problems with fecal coliform. Rain washes the bacteria from animal manure and leaky septic systems into nearby waterways.

In some watersheds, the contamination can get so bad that officials have to close shellfish beds and post signs warning people to stay away from the water. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports on one success story.

Since April, 20 sea lions have washed up dead in Oregon and Washington. EarthFix’s Ashley Ahearn reports the majority of the animals were shot.

On the Olympic Peninsula the largest dam removal project in history is well underway. The Elwha River flows from the Olympic Mountains down to the Strait of Juan de Fuca near the mouth of Puget Sound. Ashley Ahearn reports that as the two dams come out, new life is coming into the Elwha River.

A 140-foot fishing boat has been leaking oil from the bottom of Penn Cove off Whidbey Island for almost three weeks now. The ship caught fire and sank on May 13th. Local shellfish beds have been closed as agencies prepare to remove the ship. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Bristol Bay, in Southwestern Alaska, is the home of one of the world’s largest runs of Sockeye salmon. In fact, all five types of salmon spawn in the bay’s freshwater tributaries.

Bristol Bay could also become the home of a new mine to extract copper, gold and other minerals.

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a risk assessment study on how mining could impact the ecosystem there. The Agency will hold a public hearing in Seattle Thursday.

Ashley Ahearn reports that fishermen in the Northwest are watching the process closely.

A deadly virus that prompted salmon farmers in British Columbia to kill 560,000 fish has shown up for the first time in Washington. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Photo by Ashley Ahearn / Northwest News Network

The ocean absorbs a large portion of the CO2 that we release into the atmosphere from our power plants and tail pipes. But when it gets there that CO2 makes the water more acidic and less hospitable for some creatures, like shellfish. In Puget Sound some shellfish hatcheries have already lost millions of oyster larvae because of exposure to acidic water.

Ocean acidification has scientists and policymakers in the Northwest concerned. Washington Governor Chris Gregoire has convened a panel on Ocean Acidification, which met this week. Ashley Ahearn reports.

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