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

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.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website

Biologists released more than 100 pygmy rabbits into the wild this summer. Now, as temperatures drop and snow falls, they’re out tracking the rabbits to find out how many of the endangered species have survived.

Courtney Flatt

Imagine never having to change your light bulbs. Researchers are testing a new L.E.D. bulb that they jokingly say could be written into your will. It could last that long.

http://www.ars.usda.gov

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Washington dairy industry is fighting a report from the Environmental

Protection Agency. The report found that dairies are likely contaminating residential wells in the Lower Yakima Valley.

Goleh / Wikimedia Commons

Warmer winters caused by climate change could make it more difficult to operate ski resorts in the Northwest. That’s according to a new study.

Callum Black / Wikimedia Commons

A series of public meetings about a proposed coal export terminal kicked off Thursday night in Boardman.

There’s not enough water in eastern Oregon for farmers and fish. Gov. John Kitzhaber designated one basin as a place to try a possible solution to this problem. At the Oregon Leadership Summit Monday, farmers and environmentalists talked about what’s being done.

High-tech batteries could be a solution to storing renewable energy. They could also help electric cars drive farther before needing to recharge. A Washington laboratory is joining a nationwide team of scientist and industry professionals to advance battery performance.

Northwest Public Radio

About half of the energy you use comes from heating and cooling your home. So, what if a smart thermostat could help you use less? An energy innovation can help you change your thermostat even if you’re miles away from home.

Basher Eyre / Wikimedia Commons

Updating your home can have a dramatic effect on energy savings. One Central Washington couple reduced their energy use by about one-third.

Scientists recently looked at what urban development is doing to streams in Portland and eight other U.S. cities. They found that urban development can mean trouble for invertebrate species.

A global wind company with offices in the Pacific Northwest has announced more layoffs. Vestas says it will cut an additional 3,000 jobs by the end of next year. That nearly doubles the number of jobs the wind turbine company had planned to eliminate.

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