Liam Moriarty

Environment Reporter

Liam Moriarty started with KPLU in 1996 as our freelance correspondent in the San Juan Islands. He’s been our full-time Environment Reporter since November, 2006. In between, Liam was News Director at Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon for three years and reported for a variety of radio, print and web news sources in the Northwest. He's covered a wide range of environment issues, from timber, salmon and orcas to oil spills, land use and global warming. Liam is an avid sea kayaker, cyclist and martial artist.

Liam's most memorable KPLU radio moment: "Recording a musician swapping songs with killer whales from a boat in the middle of Johnstone Strait in British Columbia."


Sonar Testing
10:26 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Navy Seeks Permission To Keep Using Sonar Training Plans, But Are Whales At Risk?

FILE - This image provided by the Cascadia Research Collective shows an adult female beaked whale swimming off the Kona coast in Hawaii, Dec. 4, 2006.
Robin W. Baird AP Photo/ Cascadia Research Collective

Active sonar is the Navy’s best weapon to detect the presence of hostile submarines. But that same powerful underwater pulse of sound can harm or even kill whales and other marine mammals.

Now, the Navy is seeking permission to continue using a huge swath of the Northwest coast, from northern California to the Canadian border, for a wide range of naval training and practice, including sonar. The Navy says it’s taking precautions to protect whales, but others say it’s not enough. 

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5:00 am
Thu September 26, 2013

B.C. First Nations Dig in Heels on Northern Gateway Pipeline


An alliance of aboriginal groups in British Columbia has told federal officials that if Ottawa wants to get tribal cooperation on energy development, they'll have to kill a controversial oil pipeline proposal.

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5:49 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Watchdog Group Appeals Shoreline Permits, Urges Better Marine Habitat Protection

Timber-pile bulkheads built to protect residential property from erosion on the west side of Whidbey Island, Puget Sound. This type of beach "armoring" can impact nearshore fish habitat.
Hugh Shipman, Washington Department of Ecology

A recently-formed environmental watchdog group is appealing nearly a dozen permits issued for development along the Puget Sound shoreline. Sound Action says too many permits are being issued without the restrictions the law requires to protect important fish species.

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Coal Exporting
8:16 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Coal Giant's Financials Reveal Export Weakness

Cloud Peak Energy mining coal in the Powder River Basin
Cloud Peak Energy


This year, falling coal prices have raised questions about whether the controversial coal export terminals proposed in the Pacific Northwest would pencil out. Now, an analysis of one major coal company's finances shows it could be more profitable to bet against coal than to actually export it.

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6:22 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Teachers Strike at Bellingham Technical College

Members of the Bellingham Education Association walk the picket line at Bellingham Technical College on Tuesday morning. College faculty members went on strike Tuesday over salaries, workload and covert surveillance of college employees.

A Whatcom County court has refused to order striking teachers back to the classroom at Bellingham Technical College Tuesday. They walked off the job after failing to reach an agreement with the school's administration on wages and other issues.

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ferry dock renovation
5:01 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Rebuilding Plan for Seattle's Aging Colman Ferry Dock

Colman Dock
Washington State Department of Transportation

The makeover of Seattle's downtown waterfront is picking up steam as the seawall replacement, the viaduct removal, and other major projects gear up for action. Into this mix will come another ambitious renovation—a near-total rebuild of the Washington State Ferries' flagship terminal, the historic Colman Dock.

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energy efficiency
1:07 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Study: Seattle One of Top Cities for Energy Efficiency in U.S.

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Seattle is one of the most energy-efficient cities in the U.S., according to a new study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a Washington, D.C.-based research group. 

The study ranked cities based on their scores in several categories: local government operations, community-wide initiatives, building policies, utility policies and public benefits programs, and transportation policies.

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5:05 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Dam Dispute Surfaces in Salmon Policy

Pink salmon running in the Skykomish River at Sunset Falls.
Andrea Matzke at Wild Washington Rivers

The road map for balancing environmental needs with the need to generate power from the Northwest's hydroelectric dams is being revised. And the move has some people worried it could open the door to destructive dam projects on Washington rivers.

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Skagit river bridge
12:35 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Less than Four Months after Collapse, Skagit Bridge Replaced

Less than four months after I-5 was severed when a bridge over the Skagit River collapsed, traffic is flowing over a permanent replacement for the failed span.

The temporary bridge that was quickly put into place over the Skagit River near Burlington after the accident last May was closed at about 7 on Saturday night, and all vehicles on this major highway linking Seattle with Vancouver, B.C. were detoured onto local streets.

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transportation planning
5:01 am
Wed May 29, 2013

WSDOT: Traffic on state roadways at 10-year low

Dougtone Flickr

It may not feel like it when you’re in your car, but figures from the state Department of Transportation show there is less traffic on Washington’s roads than at any time in the last 10 years.

Between 1980 and 2002, the miles driven on the state’s roads more than doubled, from 15 billion per year to about 32 billion. Then suddenly, it leveled off and stayed that way for the past decade.

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Ways of the Wild
5:01 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Eagles return, drive entire colony of herons out of Kiwanis Ravine

A great blue heron is seen building a nest at Commodore Park.
Philip Maser Heron Habitat Helpers

The great blue heron is one of Washington’s most iconic birds, as is the bald eagle. Now, it seems eagle attacks on heron nests are driving herons to abandon the largest colony in Seattle. And volunteers are asking local residents to help them figure out where the herons have gone.

For more than a decade, Pam Cahn has monitored the dozens of heron nests at Kiwanis Ravine near Discovery Park in northwest Seattle. The volunteer citizen-scientist has kept track of eggs laid, chicks hatched and fledglings flown, then sent the data to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife for record-keeping.

But Cahn says this season, eagles have wreaked havoc on the approximately 90 heron nests in Kiwanis Ravine.

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Marijuana legalization
3:16 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Complete with hearse, march planned to bury pot prohibition

That Hardford Guy Flickr

An annual march to support legalization of marijuana will take to Seattle streets Saturday. The Cannabis Freedom March will feature a mock funeral procession for cannabis prohibition, complete with a hearse. Organizers say the time has come to lay anti-marijuana laws to rest.

“2013 is the year to really push,” said organizer Sharon Whitson with Hempfest. “We have legalized cannabis in Colorado, and here in Washington state. We have a number of other states seriously looking at it. And a few states, over the course of this year, have legalized medicinal cannabis, as well.”

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campaign financing
9:07 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Seattle considering public-funded campaign financing plan

JustinTL Flickr

The cost of running for public office keeps rising, and Seattle City Council members worry the need to fund expensive campaigns gives people with deep pockets a louder voice.

While money doesn’t seem to play the outsized role in Seattle elections that it does in national or even state campaigns, longtime council member Nick Licata is concerned.

A typical city council campaign costs about a quarter of a million dollars. In the past decade, Licata notes, the average size of donations has nearly doubled.

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state budget
1:30 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Inslee proposes cutting oil industry tax break

The search for ways to reduce Washington’s more than $1 billion budget shortfall has led Gov. Jay Inslee to suggest eliminating some little-known tax breaks long enjoyed by various industries.

One of these loopholes saves millions each year for an industry that didn’t even exist in the state when the tax break was created.

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Woodland Park's elephants
11:11 am
Thu April 18, 2013

Group to decide what's best for Woodland Park Zoo's elephants

Asian elephant Bamboo demonstrates how cooperative the zoo’s elephants are with their foot care. Photo by Asian elephant Bamboo demonstrates how cooperative the zoo’s elephants are with their foot care.
Ryan Hawk Woodland Park Zoo

After years of controversy over the welfare of the elephants at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, a task force of community leaders will meet for the first time Thursday.

Their goal is to figure out what’s best for the zoo’s three elephants.

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