environment

RICHLAND, Wash. – Problems at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will be a key issue in the confirmation hearings for the next Secretary of Energy. That’s what Oregon Senator Ron Wyden said after he toured the southeast Washington site Tuesday.

Wyden chairs the Senate committee that will consider President Obama’s pick to replace Energy Secretary Steven Chu. The Oregon Democrat toured Hanford’s tank farms, where millions of gallons of radioactive waste is stored. Two of those tanks have possible leaks.

Relocating An Endangered Deer

Feb 15, 2013
Photo by Wikimedia user Dcoetzee / Wikimedia Commons

A dike in southwestern Washington has become a ticking time bomb. Managers say it’s not a matter of if, but when, it will fail. And behind the dike? A small group of white-tailed deer, considered an endangered species. If biologists can’t move the herd before the dike is breeched, the deer could be wiped out. Courtney Flatt has this report.

Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

Mining pumps on average nearly a billion dollars into Idaho’s economy every year. Idaho, along with Nevada and Utah are considered mining friendly states. But the industry is frustrated that it can take years before permits are issued and work can get underway. That’s why mining officials appealed to state lawmakers this week to help speed up the regulatory process. As Earthfix reporter Aaron Kunz explains it’s a proposition that has environmentalists worried.

Callum Black / Wikimedia Commons

 A Seattle think tank is questioning the financial stability of a company that wants to build two coal export terminals in the Pacific Northwest.

Northwest News Network

Another costly setback for Shell Oil and its efforts to drill in the Arctic Ocean: Shell needs to send its beleaguered oil rigs to Asia for major repairs, instead of to Seattle as planned. KUOW’s John Ryan reports.

Wyden Leads Sharp Debate Over Natural Gas Export

Feb 13, 2013

Should the U.S. export its abundant supply of shale gas? Oregon Senator Ron Wyden tackled that question in a hearing today. It’s his first since he took over chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Amelia Templeton of EarthFix reports.

Photo courtesy Whitehouse.gov

President Barack Obama has nominated the head of retail chain REI to lead the U.S. Interior Department. Fifty-six-year-old Sally Jewell is the chief executive at REI in Kent, Washington, and a resident of Seattle.

Idaho Nuclear Task Force Issues Final Report

Feb 7, 2013
Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

The Idaho nuclear task force presented its final report to lawmakers Wednesday afternoon. It’s raising concerns from environmentalists who say it leaves the door open to transporting radioactive material into the state.

Earthfix reporter Aaron Kunz has more.

The 9th circuit court of appeals will hear arguments Monday in Seattle in a pesticide lawsuit. Three environmental groups want to force the Environmental Protection Agency to ban a pesticide used on some Northwest crops. Amelia Templeton of EarthFix Reports.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Leaders at Gonzaga University are asking "What Would Jesus Do" about climate change? The Jesuit school has adopted a plan for zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The Northwest is on the verge of becoming a gateway for crude oil. Three different developers have plans to use docks on Grays Harbor, Washington to transfer crude oil from trains to ships. Other projects are getting off the ground in Tacoma, Vancouver, BC and on the lower Columbia River. There was a huge turnout Wednesday night at an introductory public workshop in Aberdeen, Washington. Correspondent Tom Banse reports the response indicates crude-by-rail may be the region’s next big environmental controversy.

How Much Fish You Eat Determines Water Quality In Idaho

Jan 31, 2013

How much fish do you eat every week? That’s a question Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality wants to answer. As Samantha Wright reports, the agency has asked state lawmakers for funding to study that question.

A proposal to generate power from Puget Sound tides moved one step closer to approval with the release of a new government review. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

News out of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation can sometimes sound like just one critical report after another. In fact, last week a federal watchdog agency said Hanford’s massive waste treatment plant is in jeopardy. Several developments lately have intensified the debate over this question: Should a massive federal waste treatment plant move ahead or stop to fix its nagging technical problems? Correspondent Anna King has more.

The EPA announced it will redo parts of a study exploring ways to clean-up the Portland Harbor Superfund site. An initial draft prepared by groups that will pay for the cleanup was biased, the agency says. Amelia Templeton of EarthFix explains.

Photo by Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

It could be one of the largest Maple wood thefts from Washington State Parks land. Thieves in search of valuable “figured maple” wood cut down 21 Big Leaf Maple trees on undeveloped property in southern Puget Sound. Park Ranger Mischa Cowles discovered the theft Friday on Harstine Island. She says she first noticed a road had been punched through a wall of ferns, salal, and Huckleberry bushes.

Violetbonmua / Wikimedia Commons

Several areas in the Pacific Northwest are experiencing unhealthy air. Winter weather conditions have trapped air pollution near the ground.

Photo by T. Gettelman / Lassen National Forest

The American Marten is a small elusive member of the weasel family. People trap them and sell their pelts on the fur market where they’re known as “sable”. Their numbers are healthy in Canada and some northern parts of the U.S. But scientists worry that marten populations have severely declined in coastal mountain ranges - like the Olympic National Forest.

Ashley Ahearn from our EarthFix team reports on one organization that’s trying to help scientists get some answers.

A federal agency plans a major effort to preemptively rescue about 65 deer upriver from Astoria. The animals live on a floodplain beside the lower Columbia River.

These aren't just any deer. They're an endangered species: the Columbian white-tailed deer. One of this animal's strongholds is a national wildlife refuge near Cathlamet, Washington. But now the Columbia River is on the verge of bursting through a failing dike at the edge of the refuge.

Photo by Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Washington wildlife managers are working to avoid the kind of escalation in wolf conflicts that led the state to kill an entire wolf pack last fall. Officials from the Department of Fish and Wildlife told a crowd in Spokane Valley Wednesday they’re trying to keep livestock losses down, even as Washington’s wolf population grows. Jessica Robinson has more.

Research Helps Design Fish-Friendlier Turbines

Jan 17, 2013
Photo courtesy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

When salmon swim through dam turbines, the changes in pressure can be catastrophic to their bodies. Researchers are trying to figure out how improve fish survival rates. And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is paying attention. Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced today he will step down from his post in March.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden was recently named Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. And one of his first moves was asking the administration to investigate the royalties it receives for coal mined on public land. Amelia Templeton of EarthFix explains.

Photo by Jeffrey C. Lewis / Wikimedia Commons

Should wolverines be listed as an endangered species? That will be the question before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on January 18th. This hardy member of the weasel family is actually making a comeback in the U.S., but perhaps not for long. Ashley Ahearn reports for EarthFix.

Seal Sitters Ask Beach-Goers To Share The Shore

Jan 9, 2013
Photo by Katie Campbell / EarthFix

It's common for people strolling the beaches of Puget Sound to encounter a gray lump that turns out to be a seal pup. It's also common for well-meaning people to want to shoo them back into the water -- but this can do more to harass than help. A band of volunteers is making sure that doesn’t happen. Reporting for EarthFix, Katie Campbell explains.

Photo by Jon Klingenberg / U.S. Coast Guard

The Obama Administration announced a sweeping inquiry into Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling program yesterday. The 60-day probe will look at the company’s mishaps in Alaska and here in Puget Sound. KUOW’s John Ryan reports.

Seven fish biologists working in Southern Oregon filed a scientific misconduct complaint Monday. They say the Bureau of Reclamation plans to disband their team because their studies were unpopular. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix Reports.

Photo courtesy U.S. Congress

Idaho Governor Butch Otter underscored his commitment Monday to keeping more spent nuclear waste from entering Idaho. EarthFix Reporter Aaron Kunz explains.

Photo courtesy Wash. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

State and federal biologists say they are confident they have minimized the invasive species threat posed by a derelict dock that washed ashore last month in Olympic National Park. The concrete and steel dock appears to have drifted across the Pacific Ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan. But correspondent Tom Banse reports the story is not over yet.

Grounded Drilling Rig Remains Stable In Alaska

Jan 3, 2013
Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Klingenberg / U.S. Coast Guard

A grounded oil drilling rig remains in stable shape off the coast of Alaska Wednesday. Shell Oil’s Kulluk ran aground on New Year’s Eve on an island in the Gulf of Alaska. The vessel hasn’t spilled any oil so far, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

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