Environment

Transportation
11:46 am
Mon May 30, 2011

RapidRide buses coming to Eastside this fall

The first in-service RapidRide run, departing the Federal Way Transit Center in October 2011. Bellevue and Redmond are slated to get the next phase of RapidRide bus service starting in October. King County Council votes on the exact routes Tuesday (5-31.)
Photo by Atomic Taco Flickr

Shiny burgundy buses equipped with automated pay stations, three doors each, low-riding chassis and accelerated time tables started serving south King County last fall. They're called RapidRide and they're funded by the Transit Now ballot measure that voters approved in 2006. 

A second route is slated to start serving Bellevue and Redmond in October. The King County Council votes on exactly where they'll go on Tuesday afternoon

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Growing Jobs
6:35 pm
Wed May 25, 2011

Northwest consortium aiming to become hub for aviation biofuels

Camelina, a member of the mustard family, is a viable candidate for producing oil for biofuels, requiring minimal inputs of water and fertilizer compared to a number of other oilseed feedstocks.
Washington State University photo

A new industry is emerging in the Pacific Northwest – for development, production and distribution of aviation biofuels.

A consortium called Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest has just spent ten months producing an exhaustive study.  They've identified the four-state region of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana as a serious contender in the race to produce environmentally friendly jet fuels.

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Environment
9:19 am
Mon May 16, 2011

New rules to distance boats from endangered orcas start today

Going on a whale watching tour is a popular activity in the border waters between Washington State and British Columbia. New rules that take effect  Monday require vessels to give a wider berth to the iconic resident killer whales. KPLU's Tom Banse reports from one of the home ports of the whale watching fleet, in Victoria.

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Renewable Energy
10:44 am
Wed May 11, 2011

Wind power headed for great expansion in Northwest

A wind farm in central Washington.
Alex Williams Picasa

The amount of wind power in the Northwest is likely to double – and perhaps triple– over the next 15 years. That's according to a new estimate delivered Tuesday.

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HUMANOSPHERE
12:05 pm
Tue May 10, 2011

Bill Gates: Key to beating climate change is energy innovation. Is it?

Photo by Thomas Hawk

Bill Gates was the keynote speaker for Seattle-based Climate Solutions‘ annual fund-raising breakfast today.

The gist of Gates’ message: The best way to fight climate change is to create forms of energy production that significantly reduce carbon emissions and are cheap enough to be of value to poor people worldwide.

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Environment
1:13 pm
Tue May 3, 2011

Barn cats: natural rodent control

A barn cat doing what barn cats do best
Steve Jurvetson flickr.com

Got a rodent problem? Traps and poisons can endanger people and pets. Live on a farm, ranch or other rural location? Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) offers a natural pest control solution:  colonies of barn cats. Provide them with food, water and shelter...such as a barn...and they'll do the job.

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Environment
10:28 am
Fri April 29, 2011

Prospect of more coal trains raises concerns in NW Washington

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire puts one long running environmental controversy to bed Friday. She’s traveling to Centralia to sign into law a phase out of coal-fired electricity generation in the state. But meanwhile, another coal controversy is heating up in another part of Washington. It has to with a big new export terminal planned for north of Bellingham.

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Environment
8:15 am
Mon April 25, 2011

Seattle City Light tries osprey deterrent on utility poles

An oprey takes his lunch to go along the Duwamish River. Seattle City Light is testing a new way to keep ospreys from nesting on utility poles.
Jim Kaiser

Wildlife experts think they may have finally outsmarted the osprey, at least when it comes to keeping them off of utility poles. The hawk-like birds have caused power outages and harm to themselves by nesting on high voltage power lines.

Ospreys are pretty resourceful birds. When the tall, bare trees they used to nest in disappeared from the water’s edge, they figured out utility poles were a close substitute. Whenever humans try to stop them from using the poles, ospreys find a workaround.

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Environment
3:12 pm
Fri April 22, 2011

Northwest's largest coal-fired plant to shut down by 2025

File photo of the TransAlta coal plant in Centralia
Miriam Duerr Washington Dept. of Ecology

It's 14 years off in the future. But a compromise deal will shut down the Northwest's largest coal-fired power plant near Centralia. Legislation is headed to the governor's desk following a vote Thursday in the Washington senate.

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Environment
10:03 am
Wed April 20, 2011

"GoGreen '11" conference showcasing best practices from who's who of Seattle businesses

The company behind those "Redbox" DVD vending machines is one of the local businesses making a presentation about sustainability in the workplace at the "Going Green '11" conference in Seattle.
AP photo

Insiders from many of Seattle's most recognizable big businesses are gathering today at the Washington State Convention Center downtown.

Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, REI, and The Mariners have all been invited to give interactive presentations meant to inspire others in the region to follow in their footsteps. The topic? Going Green.

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Weather
2:15 pm
Wed April 13, 2011

La Niña turns out less severe in retrospect

A woman strides under snow-covered branches around Seattle's Greenlake following a snowfall of several inches there overnight in 2005., a non-La Niña year.
Elaine Thompson AP

The Washington State Climatologist is out with a report card on how the weather phenomenon La Niña treated the Northwest. If you thought it’s been wetter and colder than usual since November, you’re right. But overall, this La Niña was milder than predicted. KPLU's Tom Banse reports:

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green energy
8:01 am
Wed April 13, 2011

Wind power battling hydro for transmission lines

Sunset at the Wild Horse Wind Power Project near Vantage, Wash
Puget Sound Energy AP

When the wind is blowing and the rivers are running high, there's not enough capacity in power lines to handle all the electricity that's generated.

And that could mean that wind-farms have to shutdown for brief periods when there's too much power.

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Utility Rates
6:45 am
Tue April 12, 2011

Seattle's water and sewer rates are among the highest in the nation

blog.lib.umn.edu

If you live in Seattle, and you think your water and sewer charges are high, you’re right.

That’s according to a new city-government audit of Seattle Public Utilities. The Seattle Times reports the audit cites an industry analysis that found Seattle paying the highest rates among 50 U.S. cities. 

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Whale Watching Rules
6:00 am
Tue April 12, 2011

Step away from the whale: Whale watch regulations get tougher

Under new federal rules, whale watcher such as these will have to stay further back from the killer whales
Soundwatch

Next time you go whale watching on Puget Sound, be sure to take your binoculars. Soon, you’ll have to stay twice as far from the endangered killer whales as before. 

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State Budget
11:05 am
Mon April 11, 2011

Taking a broader look at the value of natural resources

Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island is a prime spot for watching killer whales from the shore
San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

Lawmakers in Olympia are struggling to close a $5 billion budget gap, and, like many state programs, natural resource agencies are on the chopping block. A study by a Tacoma-based non-profit says cutting those services too deeply could cost a lot more money than it saves.

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