environmental protection

Northwest coal
12:40 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

State Promising Extensive Review for Proposed Coal Exports

Elaine Thompson Associated Press

Environmentalists are applauding the state Department of Ecology, which announced it will conduct an extensive review of the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point near Bellingham. 

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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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Environment
8:05 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Study: Cherry Point coal terminal would snarl Seattle traffic, cause dangerous delays

The City of Seattle continues to build its case against huge new coal
trains that would rumble through town if an export terminal is built
in Bellingham.

The Mayor of Seattle has released a new study that ups the pressure on
the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Ecology, who are
responsible for the environmental impact study of the proposed
terminal at Cherry Point.

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Environment
3:01 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Why King County held a party for a property tax

In 1984, the county used revenue from the tax to purchase the first 2,000 acres of the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlands Park, a bit of which is shown above.
King County

Celebrating taxes is a pretty uncommon event, but the King County Council did just that yesterday to mark the 30th anniversary of a property tax and the more than 100,000 acres of public lands it has paid to preserve.

The council also made its praise of the Conservation Futures Tax official with a resolution honoring those who created the program to spend the money.

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Endangered species
5:56 pm
Wed July 11, 2012

5 Washington critters among species group would have feds protect

The Cascades Frog is among the 53 amphibians and reptiles in a petition for federal protection by the Center for Biological Diversity. Washington is considered one of its strongholds. It has declined by 50% in California.
Courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service

They’re slimy and cold-blooded.

But conservationists say amphibians and reptiles are important indicator species – and some of the most endangered.

Five of these sensitive creatures that call Washington home are among more than 50 included in a petition for federal protection.

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Environment
3:43 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

Senate holds hearing on protection for San Juans' public lands

Shorelines and lighthouses such as this one, at Lime Kiln Point on San Juan Island, would be permanently protected as part of a National Conservation Area under leglislation moving through Congress.
Photo by KenBungay Flickr

A bill to establish a National Conservation Area that would give permanent protection 1,000 acres of unique landscapes in the San Juan Islands is wending its way through Congress. A key committee took up the legislation this afternoon. Senator Maria Cantwell told a panel, the bill would stave off the threat of future development.

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Environment
7:18 am
Wed February 29, 2012

Spotted owl recovery plan: more active forestry management...and shooting rivals

The highly adaptable barred owl has moved in from points east and pushed out the endangered northern spotted owl. Lethal and non-lethal removals are part of the new spotted owl recovery plan announced by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
caroltlw photo Flickr

In the long saga to protect the northern spotted owl, it's now officially "owl vs owl."

US Fish and Wildlife says the decline of the iconic northwest species can’t be helped without killing some of its more aggressive cousins, the barred owl.

It’s part of a court-ordered plan to increase the spotted owl’s forest habitat.

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Environment
4:50 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Pot plantations laying waste to national forests

This marijuana grow site was discovered in Ross Lake National Recreation Area, in North Cascades National Park, in 2008. Many more have been found in the Northwest's national forests, including Oregon's biggest ever last summer, in Wallowa County.
National Parks Service Photo

With its delicate, bright-green leaves, it’s a beautiful plant to look at.

And its medicinal qualities are well-known, but it requires huge amounts of water and light to grow. 

And that’s just the start of the problems caused by marijuana that authorities have been discovering growing in national forests.

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Environmental Law
12:44 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Tougher rules for oil spill prevention - hearings underway

On Oct. 13, 2004, about 7,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a ConocoPhillips oil tanker. The slick spread quickly and covered much of Colvos and Dalco Passage and Quartermaster Harbor in Puget Sound.
Courtesy of Washington Department of Ecology

Washington State already has some of the highest oil spill readiness standards in the country – if not in the world.

An update to those regulations is raising that bar even higher.

The tightening is in response to the catastrophic BP oil spill nearly two years ago in the Gulf of Mexico. 

The new law places new requirements on oil companies operating in Puget Sound or on the Columbia River.

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Pacific Raceways
4:30 am
Mon September 26, 2011

Racetrack’s expansion plans have enviros, neighbors worried

View of the plan to refurbish Pacific Raceways near Kent.

Plans to upgrade a dilapidated old race track near Kent are sparking an environmental debate. The owners of Pacific Raceways say that to stay afloat, they badly need an expansion that would bring thousands of new jobs to the area. 

Neighbors are worried about impacts on surrounding wetlands and fish habitat, especially because they say special legislation King County is considering to facilitate the expansion may set a bad precedent.

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Protected Lands
10:52 am
Fri September 9, 2011

New refuge preserves underwater landscapes in Puget Sound

A management plan for the proposed Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve is to be signed at a ceremony today near Olympia. It will be the seventh area to receive this designation as part of the state's efforts to clean up and protect Puget Sound.
Courtesy Washington State Department of Natural Resources

The state is adding 15,000 acres of protected land around the Nisqually Reach Wildlife Refuge, exempting it from commercial development of any kind.

All the land is under water. It’s the seventh and southern-most area in Puget Sound to be designated as an Aquatic Reserve. Signing of a new management plan takes place today at 1:30 p.m.

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Environment
6:02 pm
Sun August 21, 2011

Enviro groups say Clean Water Act is under attack

Joost Nelissen Flickr

Nearly 40 years ago, the U.S. government began setting federal standards to clean up water pollution with the passage of the landmark Clean Water Act. Now, many environmental groups say that law is under attack and they’re worried about consequences.

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Environment
5:00 pm
Thu July 28, 2011

Campaign to protect precious lands in San Juan Islands

A grassroots campaign of local conservation groups is hoping to get federally owned land in the San Juans declared a National Conservation Area.
Courtesy of San Juan Islands National Conservation Area

The San Juan Islands are known for pristine natural beauty that includes a national wildlife refuge and several remote state parks.  

But they also contain about 1,000 acres of federally owned land that has been largely forgotten by authorities. Some islanders fear it might be sold off to developers.

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Environment
4:16 pm
Thu June 9, 2011

Fishing for the ghost nets of Whatcom County

Dead crabs and live sea stars are among the creatures pulled up with derelict fishing gear collected by the Northwest Straits Initiative in Puget Sound, here on a boat at Alden Bank, off the coast of Ferndale.The coalition has mapped 934 remaining nets.
Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU News

They’re known as ghost nets – old tangles of synthetic lines snagged on underwater rocks or reefs and left behind by fishermen as long as seventy years ago.   

A coalition out of Mount Vernon has removed thousands of them over the past decade.  There’s still work to be done, but they’re running out of funding. 

Since 2002, The Northwest Straights Initiative has removed nearly four thousand derelict fishing nets from shallow waters of Puget Sound. 

“Because they just don’t degrade. They can get torn apart by wave action, but they won’t degrade," says Northwest Straits Initiative Director, Ginny Broadhurst.

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Environment
9:55 am
Thu June 9, 2011

Preview: Fishing for the ghost nets of Whatcom County

Fishing for ghost nets in the Puget Sound too often yields injured or dead wildlife.
Bellamy Pailthorp KPLU

(Updated at 11:49 a.m. with new photos)

This morning I’ll be up early, heading to Sandy Point Marina, near Bellingham, for a short field trip with the non-profit Northwest Straits.  They’re a non-partisan group that’s been removing derelict fishing gear from the waters of the region for the past decade. 

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