Environment

climate change
10:12 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Inslee Tapped for Obama Climate Task Force

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is among the political leaders who will be part of President Barack Obama's task force on climate issues.

The White House said Friday that Obama was establishing the panel to advice the administration on how the federal government can support local communities impacted by climate change. Inslee is one of eight governors named to the panel. The task force also includes local and tribal leaders.

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Puget Sound Health
5:01 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Small Steps, but Much Work Ahead for Puget Sound Health

The 40-year-old seawall at Burien's Seahurst Park is an example of development that prevents salmon and other sensitive species from thriving in Puget Sound.
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU News

With its rocky beaches and abundant sea life, Puget Sound is at the heart of western Washington’s identity. Yet we are falling behind on the work needed to restore its health, following years of pollution from industry and a growing population.

The Puget Sound Partnership has released its latest progress report. And though there is some improvement, the challenges are still numerous. 

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moving on two wheels
5:00 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Cycle Tracks Offer Added Protection for Bicyclists in Seattle

City of Seattle

With the number of bike commuters up 78 percent since 2005, bike lanes in Seattle are packed. 

But not everyone feels safe riding in close proximity to cars, having to worry about distracted drivers or collisions with car doors.

So Seattle planners are in the midst of an experiment—one they hope will make anybody feel comfortable hopping on a bike to get around the city. Seattle is building what are called "cycle tracks" as a way of making riding on the street more attractive to the novice or reluctant rider.

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Flood Forecast
5:50 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

National Weather Service Says Big Floods Likely This Winter

Major flooding in 2007 shut down 20 miles of I-5 in central Washington and left five people dead.
WSDOT

November, which marks the start of flood season in the Northwest, is just around the corner. And the National Weather Service says there is high potential for rivers to burst their banks from now through February.

This winter will bring what is known as a “neutral” weather pattern; we won't see the milder El Niño nor the wetter, windier La Niña this winter. But that hardly means we get a break.

A neutral winter can mean trouble for those who live or work near flood plains in western Washington as it brings the highest number of so-called “Pineapple Express” events during which an atmospheric river forms off the coast. 

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orca sighting
1:02 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Orcas Spotted in Puget Sound near Seattle

A pair of orca whales swim in view of a state ferry crossing from Bainbridge Island toward Seattle in the Puget Sound Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, as seen some miles away from Seattle.
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Whale spotters say dozens of killer whales are still in Puget Sound where they have been seen by ferry passengers as well as people on shore.

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Environment
5:00 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Inslee: Ellensburg Area Stream Restoration Good for Salmon

Governor Jay Inslee signs his name to some of the pipe that will put water back in Manastash Creek near Ellensburg, Wash.
Anna King

A dried-out 3-mile-stretch of creek in central Washington will soon swell again with water. It’s part of a project near Ellensburg to pipe irrigation water from the Yakima River to keep water in the creek for salmon and steelhead.

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deciphering coastal history
5:11 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

UW Researcher: Redwoods Reveal Years of Coastal Climate History

Michael Schweppe Flickr

Count the rings on a tree trunk to figure out its age.

Or, if you’re University of Washington climatologist Jim Johnstone, study the molecules of a redwood trunk and crack the code for natural weather data that could date back more than a thousand years.

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Environment
5:00 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Greenpeace Vessel Rainbow Warrior Makes Stop in Seattle

Greenpeace

The original Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, sailed the seas protecting seals and whales from hunters. The organization’s newest Rainbow Warrior has been docked along Seattle’s waterfront for the past few days as part of a West Coast tour.

The 2-year-old vessel is the third Rainbow Warrior. But it’s the first one Greenpeace had custom-made from stem to stern.

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Coal Exports
5:01 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Whatcom County Council Races Attracting Big Money Over Coal

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

An unprecedented amount of outside money has been pouring into local elections in Whatcom County to fund both sides of the fight stemming from the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point.

Four of the county council's seven seats are up for grabs. And two political action groups have formed to try and tip the balance in the Gateway Pacific project north of Bellingham. 

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Election 2013
5:01 am
Fri October 25, 2013

I-522: Looking to the European Union for a Real-Life Example

Spaniard Victoria Alonso searches for the "genetically modified" label on corn and soy products in a Barcelona supermarket.
Gerry Hadden

Should consumers have the right to know what’s in the food they eat?

That’s the question at the heart of Initiative 522, which would require labeling of genetically-engineered foods and seed sold in Washington. 

Most people want the choice, but whether the initiative would actually give shoppers useful information is up for debate. One place to look for answers is the European Union, where the world’s first GE labeling requirements took effect nearly two decades ago.                 

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Environment
9:57 am
Thu October 24, 2013

NOAA Takes Steller Sea Lions Off Threatened List

FILE - This undated image provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows Steller sea lion in Alaska.
AP Photo/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A federal agency is taking the eastern population of Steller sea lion off the threatened species list.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman Julie Speegle says the eastern population has met recovery criteria the agency set out in 2008.

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Putting the Spa in Spawn
4:27 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

A Spa For Fish: Yakama Nation Creates Refuge for Exhausted Fish

Joe Blodgett, right, with the Yakama Nation's steelhead rehabilitation center, lifts a fish out a tub where they're fed highly nutritious pellets.
Anna King

When a Columbia River steelhead completes its epic journey from ocean to spawning grounds, it’s usually too exhausted to go downriver again. Often, the fish just dies. But the Yakama Nation is changing that circle of life.

Tribal biologists have created a rehabilitation center that helps steelhead recover so they can spawn again in the future. And the Yakama fish spa is seeing more success.

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Protecting Fish
9:01 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Watchdog Group Concerned about Hydraulic Code Update

Any construction that touches the state's waterways is subject to regulation under Washington's Hydraulic Code
philsnyder Flickr via compfight

Proposals to streamline permitting for development in and around state waters have some environmental groups worried. The groups are concerned the changes could weaken crucial protections for fish and their habitat. 

The law in question is the state’s Hydraulic Code, which dictates how permits are issued for any project that touches a waterway—things like docks, culverts, and bulkheads. The law’s main aim is to protect fish and their habitat.

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climate change
4:18 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Inslee Wants to Explore State-Only 'Cap and Trade' Scheme

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday laid out how he'd like the state to combat global warming pollution, including eliminating any electricity generated by coal and putting a statewide cap on greenhouse gas emissions. Legislative Republicans immediately raised concerns.

Back in 2008, the Washington Legislature set ambitious goals for reducing the state's carbon footprint. But they're just goals without enforcement mechanisms. Subsequently, a pact between 11 western states and provinces to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions fell apart. 

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Regulating Pollution
4:54 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Clean Water Suit Alleges State's Fish Consumption Rate Outdated

How much fish is safe to eat? That’s the key question in a federal lawsuit filed today

The plaintiffs are trying to force stricter limits on pollution in local waters. A coalition of groups including clean water advocates, tribes, and the commercial fishing industry have filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency.

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