Courtney Flatt

Multimedia Journalist - Based in Richland, WA

Courtney Flatt began her journalism career at The Dallas Morning News as a neighbors editor. There, she also wrote articles for the Metro section, where she reported on community issues ranging from water security to the arts. Courtney earned her master’s in convergence journalism at the University of Missouri and developed a love for radio and documentary film. As a producer at KBIA-FM she hosted a weekly business show, reported and produced talk shows on community and international issues. Her work took her from the unemployment lines, to a Methamphetamine bust, to the tornado damage aftermath in Joplin, Mo.

What I cover
Energy, climate change and the Columbia Basin

Soon to be favorite outdoor activity
Having never lived so close to mountains before, I am determined to learn to snowboard this winter.

A funny thing happened one day in the field...
It was an icy winter morning, and I was trying to get some ambient sound of the Missouri River, which seemed easy enough. I had to make it over a pile of cement rocks to reach this one sandbar. (And if you know me, you know I’m a walking example of Murphy’s Law.)

Realizing this, I securely attached every piece of equipment to my body. Everything except my extra mic. I had climbed halfway across the cement pile when, woosh! My mic fell through a small hole covered by leaves. The mound was probably 10 feet tall.

As I peered down, a fisherman wandered by. He helped me lift a few of the blocks – they probably weighed 50 pounds each. But the mic wasn’t anywhere near the top. Every time I saw the pile after that day, I wondered where my mic wound up.

Likes
Farmers markets, traveling, tea and painting (though I’m pretty bad at it)

Dislikes
There’s not much… Maybe traffic?

If I weren't a journalist, I would be...
Working on an organic farm in Spain. I actually joined the WOOF program right before graduation. Then I got a job.

Ways to Connect

Decumanus / Wikimedia Commons

Crowds have turned up throughout the Northwest to voice their opinions about proposed coal export terminals. At times the public hearings have been confrontational.

Justin Wilde, Mission Support Alliance

For the first time in more than 50 years, the Hanford nuclear reservation is now home to two baby bald eagles. Wildlife biologists say this is a good sign for bald eagles and for the area.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

Wind isn’t always a reliable source of power. Sometimes the wind blows when there is already too much power on the grid. And sometimes there is no wind when energy is needed.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

If you’ve ever shivered through a meeting in a conference room when it’s warm outside, you may have wondered: “Why don’t they just turn off the air-conditioning?” New research has found a way to keep you more comfortable and keep office costs down.

One of the less-talked-about points in President Barack Obama’s climate change plan is capturing and storing carbon before it’s released from power plants. Research is taking place in the Northwest to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by injecting it permanently underground.For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Federal inspectors have taken seed samples from a distributor in Walla Walla, Wash., as part of their investigation to find out how genetically modified wheat wound up in an Oregon field. That’s according to a news report published by the Capital Press.

Matt Lavin / Wikimedia Commons

After unauthorized, genetically modified wheat was found in an Oregon field, scientists have been trying to figure out what that means for wheat crops. Beyond farmers’ fields, a few pesky plants could also benefit as more genetically modified crops come into play.

Renewable energy storage is one step closer becoming a reality in the Northwest. Researchers are proposing a new system that could store enough wind energy to power 80,000 homes for a month. But researchers aren’t proposing fields lined with batteries. They’re using some of the Columbia River Basin’s natural geography and compressed air.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

The Supreme Court of Washington heard oral arguments in a case that could change how cities, towns and universities manage water. Northwest conservation groups are suing Washington State University. They say it’s draining the region’s aquifer.

Courtney Flatt

If proper equipment isn’t installed on irrigation pipes and pumps, fish can get sucked into farmers’ fields and drainage ditches. That clogs pipes and kills fish. A new fish screen was just installed on a Central Washington River to prevent this from happening. It’s the first of its kind in the state.

Tall, noisy wind turbines may not go over well in some urban areas. A Northwest company has developed residential-sized turbines to push renewable energy to cities. The portable turbines could also generate power during disasters.

You may have seen wind turbines springing up all over the Pacific Northwest in the past decade. So far this year, the region’s wind industry has faced a different story. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Pacific Northwest refineries have been getting their crude oil for years from tankers and pipelines. Last September, trains began shipping crude oil into the region by rail. EarthFix reporter Courtney Flatt explains what that means for emergency crews.

Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

Northwest conservationists are suing Washington State University. They say the groundwater used to irrigate the University’s golf course is draining the region’s aquifer. But this case is about more than just watering the fairways and putting greens. It could change how cities and towns manage water for future development. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

The state of Washington has fined a Yakima Valley dairy for spreading cow manure on an empty field. It’s not a big fine -- but it’s the first one issued under a 2009 law.

Anton Lefterov / Wikimedia Commons

Not all organic food is created equally. Unlike beef or chicken, apples and pears can be certified as organic, even if they’re treated with antibiotics to prevent disease. Food safety groups are meeting this week in Portland to petition against the practice.

Matthew Zalewski / Wikimedia Commons

Wildlife managers are euthanizing bighorn sheep in central Washington. A herd has been infected with a disease that causes pneumonia.

An eastern Oregon biofuel plant has announced it’s laying off workers. The news comes three weeks after it began producing ethanol.

U.S. Geological Survey website

Invasive zebra mussels could soon be heading toward the Pacific Northwest. So, researchers are working to protect and prepare the region’s waterways.

Northwest News Network

Washington officials confirmed a new wolf pack outside Wenatchee this week. But the pack has already run into trouble with ranchers.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Charging your electric vehicle could help balance the grid and save you money. Northwest researchers have developed a smart charger to do just that.

EarthFix

An Australian coal company has asked for more time to answer questions from the State of Oregon about its plans for a coal port in Boardman.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Two new wolf packs formed in Oregon last year. That brings the state’s total to six packs. Friday the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission learned what this could mean for possibly removing endangered species protection for the wolves.

Northwest News Network

Automatic budget cuts could affect your vacation plans. That’s because the U.S. Department of Interior says those cuts will reduce what national parks can spend if Congress doesn’t come to an agreement by Friday.

A new study out of the Pacific Northwest has found people may be exposed to far less of the chemical BPA than previously thought. BPA, also known as bisphenol A, has been linked to genital defects, early onset of puberty and obesity.

Two environmental groups have filed a federal lawsuit against several Yakima Valley dairies. The groups say the dairies harm people’s health and the environment.

Governor John Kitzhaber signed a plan that will move several eastern Oregon water projects one step forward.

John O'Neill / Wikimedia Commons

Some Willamette Valley farmers can now grow canola. The crop has been controversial in Oregon. That’s because organic seed farmers fear new pests and cross-pollination.

U.S. Geological Survey website

A new study is providing the most comprehensive look yet at what’s causing groundwater to decline in parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Energy.gov

  U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced in a letter Friday he will step down from his position at the end of this month.

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