Environment

Living with animals
5:01 am
Mon June 24, 2013

For 'refugees from urban farming craze', a backyard to call home

One of Tiffany Young's ducks drying off after a swim.
Justin Steyer KPLU

Urban farming sounds like a great idea to many people. You can grow your own vegetables and put in a chicken coop, or keep some ducks to make it all come full circle.

But a Seattle woman behind an operation called Ducks and Clucks says many folks are biting off more than they can chew when it comes to the birds. It is she who often comes to their rescue.

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Transportation alternatives
5:01 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Cycling symposium: Seattle’s primer for more urban biking

Craig Damlo Flickr

Experts on urban cycling are convening at the University of Washington this week to talking about how to get more people out of cars and onto bikes. And the experts say Seattle is poised to get to the next level.

Seattle is about half way through its ten-year Bicycle Master Plan. An update is under way and expected to be approved by the Seattle City Council this fall.

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Environment
5:00 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Proposed hydro-energy project has Index saying ‘no dam way’

Snohomish County PUD wants to install a small, inflatable dam at this bend on the south fork of the Skykomish River.
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU News

At a time when Washington state has been making headlines for the largest dam removal project ever on the Elwha River, Snohomish County is proposing a new one.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District says the proposed dam’s modern low-impact design would help the county diversify its energy portfolio and meet the future power demands of a growing population.

But the location of the proposed dam—on a wild and scenic stretch of the Skykomish River near the small town of Index—has many locals banding together against the project. 

'No dam way'

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Coal Exports
3:52 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

Army Corps: No environmental study for Northwest coal terminals

In this photo taken Oct. 23, 2012, train tracks run through a wooded area near the site of a proposed coal exporting terminal Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, in Ferndale, Wash., near Bellingham, Wash.
Elaine Thompson Associated Press

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has dealt a big blow to environmental groups fighting proposed coal export terminals in the Northwest.

During testimony before Congress, an official with the agency said the Corps is not planning a broad environmental study on the impact of coal exports, meaning the proposed terminals' effects on climate change won’t be considered during the review process.

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Water pollution
5:00 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Human fecal bacteria confirmed in Seattle’s Thornton Creek

Fecal coliform bacteria has been found at several locations in the Thornton Creek watershed. A new study confirms the source is in large part human sewage.
courtesy Seattle Public Utilities

Scientists with the city of Seattle are narrowing in on the source of polluted water that flows through the city’s largest watershed. With a new study, they’ve confirmed human fecal bacteria are likely entering Thornton Creek at multiple locations near Northgate and Lake City Way.

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Electric Cars
11:02 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Fueling Up For 84 Cents Per 'eGallon'

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 4:04 pm

Imagine paying less than a dollar per gallon for your commute, compared to today's statewide averages of $3.84 in Oregon and Washington and $3.80 in Idaho for a gallon of gas. Eighty-four cents in Idaho and Washington -- or 96 cents in Oregon -- per gasoline gallon equivalent is how much the US Department of Energy figures it costs to recharge an electric car in each state.

The agency's assistant secretary David Danielson announced an online cost comparison calculator Tuesday for what he calls the "eGallon."

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Environment
5:01 am
Mon June 10, 2013

FERC hearing on proposed Skykomish River hydro project

A view upstream from the site on the south fork of the Skykomish River, where an intake structure and underwater cavern would go for a new dam
courtesy Andrea Matzke

Federal officials will be in Index this week to hear from the public about a controversial proposal for a new dam on the Skykomish River.

Representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will tour the proposed dam site at Sunset Falls, and take public comments as part of the licensing process.

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Hanford nuclear reservation
10:50 am
Fri June 7, 2013

Swallows Bring Radioactive Soil Into Hanford Waste Plant

Bechtel

Originally published on Fri June 7, 2013 10:07 am

Workers are back on the job at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. Work stopped this week when radioactive soil was found under the nests of some swallows.

Swallows used some radioactive mud to make nests on exposed beamwork in Hanford’s waste treatment plant. That’s the $12 billion factory designed to bind-up radioactive sludge in glass logs. The nests were found during routine tests, but this is the first radioactive contamination of the new plant.

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Coal Exports
5:59 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Sierra Club sues BNSF over coal dust from trains

Coal dust mingles with grass in Wyoming.
Eli Nixon photo Flickr

A coalition of environmental groups led by the Sierra Club has filed suit against Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and five energy companies.

The plaintiffs say coal dust flying out of uncovered train cars is polluting Washington rivers and Puget Sound, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

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Environment
5:01 am
Wed June 5, 2013

Sediment health declining in central Puget Sound

Environmental specialist and lead taxonomist Kathy Welch examines a sediment sample pulled from Elliott Bay. A new study of the sediments shows a dramatic decline in the health of benthic invertibrates over a ten-year period, despite lower toxin levels.
Bellamy Pailthorp photo KPLU News

Scientists examining the health of Puget Sound have uncovered a new mystery involving the very bottom of the food chain.

A new study from the state Department of Ecology shows toxins in sediments have declined over the past decade. But it also found declining health of the creatures that live in the sediment. 

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Global warming
4:36 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

Promise of the Arctic conference points to opportunities and risks

A polar bear on one of the last ice floes floating in the Arctic sea in June 2008.
Gerard Van der Leun photo Flickr via Compfight

The Arctic is getting hotter faster than any part of the globe. Experts predict the region will be free of sea ice during the summer within about 20 years. 

That’s creating a gold-rush mentality among many shipping and energy companies eager to capitalize on new trade routes or tap new sources of oil and gas.

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Disease prevention
5:01 am
Tue May 28, 2013

State seeking volunteers for bird flu tests on backyard flocks

istockphoto.com

State officials are urging owners of backyard chicken to sign up their flock for bird flu testing.

The state is trying to prevent an outbreak of a new strain of bird flu like the one recently seen in China. At least 36 people have died of the disease since March.

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Could you do it?
6:14 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Exhibit inspires woman to try to avoid buying plastics for a month

A look at the accumulation of plastics that crept into Sam Porter's life, despite her pledge not to use or buy any new plastics for a month.
courtesy Burke Museum

Plastics have only been in wide use since the 1940s, yet they are everywhere, from sandwich bags to phones, to keyboards, to rain gear. Even the cans of soup in the grocery aisle are lined with it.

It's hard to imagine a world before these conveniences. What would your life be like without plastics?

Seattle resident Samantha Porter decided to find out. She works behind the scenes of the Burke Museum, which is hosting an exhibit titled "Plastics Unwrapped."

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green design
5:01 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Latest in 'living building' green design: Self-sustaining classroom

The lab area inside the new SEEDclassroom in Seattle, which is aiming to become the first portable to meet the strict sustainability criteria of the "Living Building Challenge."
Bellamy Pailthorp Photo KPLU News

A prototype of a self-sustaining portable classroom has arrived at a parking lot in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.

The classroom is meant to set a higher bar for schools by demonstrating they can meet the highest standard of green building design, the Living Building Challenge, fairly quickly. 

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electric vehicles
12:01 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Nissan electric car sales booming in Washington state

In this photo taken May 26, 2011, show a Nissan Leaf charging in Portland, Ore.

The automaker Nissan says sales of its fully-electric Leaf compact surpassed all other Nissan models at dealers in the Seattle and Portland areas this spring. The announcement Wednesday runs counter to the prevailing wisdom that adoption of plug-in cars has been sluggish.

At Nissan USA headquarters, director of electric vehicle marketing and sales Erik Gottfried says he's scrambling to ship enough Leafs to meet demand in the Pacific Northwest. The car maker juiced its plug-in sales by slashing the sticker price and offering low-cost leases. Gottfried says that was made possible by opening a domestic production line in Tennessee.

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