KNKX Public Radio

Stories about the environment focused on the Pacific Northwest, with many from KNKX's Environment reporter, Bellamy Pailthorp.

Stories about the environment focused on the Pacific Northwest, with many from KNKX's Environment reporter, Bellamy Pailthorp.


Tacoma, WA


Stories about the environment focused on the Pacific Northwest, with many from KNKX's Environment reporter, Bellamy Pailthorp.






12180 Park Ave S. Tacoma, WA 98447 253-535-7758


Washington Food and Farm Finder makes it easier to shop with local producers

Demand for fresh food from local farms has surged in recent months, even as the pandemic has sometimes made it harder to get. Many people are looking for healthy ways to avoid grocery store shopping and support local small businesses.


Environmental groups appeal lower court’s decision on Cooke Aquaculture’s net pen plan

A controversial plan to raise domesticated steelhead in net pens in Puget Sound faces a new legal challenge. Cooke Aquaculture wants to use its remaining leases with the state, despite the ban on net pen farming of non-native fish. So, it proposed switching from Atlantic salmon to sterilized native steelhead.


Quiet Sound underwater noise reduction program could soon slow ships, protect orcas

Underwater noise from ship traffic is one of the major threats to Puget Sound’s endangered Southern Resident orcas. It can interfere with the whales’ ability to communicate, navigate by echolocation and find the increasingly scarce salmon they prefer. A recommendation from the orca recovery task force convened by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2018-19 is to reduce noise and disturbance from large vessels. Work is underway to develop a program called "Quiet Sound," which will alert ships to the presence...


Advocates say election outcome means more ‘climate champions’ headed to Olympia

Climate action advocates say they’re hopeful they’ll see more success in Olympia, when lawmakers return to session. A recent webinar with several environmental groups provided an overview of the election outcome, and its implications for climate policies.


Neurotoxin that shut down razor clamming threatens Dungeness crab season

UPDATE, Nov. 25: The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has closed recreational fishing for Dungeness crab on the central Washington coast, effective immediately. That’s after new test results showed levels of the neurotoxin domoic acid have reached unsafe levels. The closure stretches from the Queets River to Point Chehalis and includes Grays Harbor and the popular Westport Boat Basin. The commercial crab season is not yet open. Tests next week will determine when it can open and if...


Toxins from harmful algal bloom shut down razor clamming on Washington beaches

A potentially record-setting season f or razor clam digging in Washington has come to a screeching halt. Warm water off the coast has helped toxic algae thrive, rendering the clams unsafe to eat.


Big money in politics — now greener than ever

Environmental groups have become some of the biggest spenders in U.S. politics this election. Washington state is no exception. The Washington Conservation Voters political action committee (WCV PAC) has poured some $425,000 into about 10 state legislative races. In each case, fossil fuel interests have funded campaigns on the other side.


Contrasting views on climate action in the race for Washington's 10th Congressional District

Two Democrats are vying to fill the open seat in Washington’s 10 th Congressional District. State representative Beth Doglio is running against former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. The race has been called a microcosm of the recent split in the Democratic Party between establishment liberals and left-leaning progressives. One issue that clearly displays their differences is how they would address climate change.


Washington state developing safety rules to protect outdoor workers from wildfire smoke

The state department of Labor and Industries has begun a rule-making process to protect outdoor workers from wildfire smoke. It will make Washington the second state after California to do so.


Group pushes for clean-energy stimulus, as fast-growing industry is hit hard by pandemic

The clean energy sector was one of the fastest growing parts of the economy before the pandemic, and it’s been one of the hardest hit. But researchers say jobs in energy efficiency or solar or wind power are still some of the best paid .


USGS pressing for expansion of lahar detection sites around Mount Rainier

Officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior and United States Geological Survey have been touring sites in Mount Rainier National Park this week. They’re looking at five new locations where upgraded monitoring stations will soon enhance detection of lahars. There’s also a proposal to add another 12 lahar monitoring stations in the park, to complete an expansion they say will put detection at Rainier on par with other high-threat volcanoes in the region, such as Mount St. Helens.


Salish Sea Shared Waters forum wraps up third and final year of work to reduce risks of oil spills

Washington has been stepping up systems to prevent and reduce the risk of oil spills, due in part to the looming expansion of Canada’s Trans Mountain Pipeline. It could result in as much as a sevenfold increase in the number of oil tankers traveling from Vancouver, B.C., through Puget Sound. In 2018, the state Legislature passed the Strengthening Oil Transportation Safety Act. Among its requirements, along with a barrel tax on crude oil and updates to contingency plans for oil spills, was...


'Incredibly insensitive': How a proposal to honor the childless tanked on Bainbridge Island

This story originally aired on February 14, 2020. It started over a few glasses of wine, with friends passing around a smartphone and sharing views of a sketch by late-night comedian Bill Maher. The idea presented there, for a holiday on par with those honoring moms and dads, often provokes laughter. “I Didn’t Reproduce Day” would celebrate single people, aunts and uncles who help out — and not just by being allies to parents or mentors to young people. Maher makes the case that people who...


New whale watch licensing system will reduce noise, disturbance of endangered orcas

Despite the happy news that Puget Sound’s Southern Resident killer whales welcomed two new babies to the J-pod last month, their population remains at risk, with just 74 left in the wild. A new licensing requirement for commercial whale watch boats is expected to start next year . It aims to reduce noise and other stress that could be impacting them, by regulating the numbers of boats allowed in proximity of the Southern Residents as well as when and how long the whales can be watched.


Puyallup Tribe plans to sue Pierce County dam owner over AstroTurf, impacts on fish

The Puyallup Tribe intends to sue Electron Hydro and its backers over violations of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. The tribe’s 60-day notice, filed in federal court, comes after a whistleblower working at the Pierce County dam site this summer revealed that the company was using artificial turf in the Puyallup River.


Washington officials deploy new tools in race to eradicate invasive Asian giant hornet

It’s been a busy week for Washington state agriculture officials tracking the potential spread of the Asian giant hornet. Scientists say they found evidence of six new hornets near Blaine, indicating the likelihood that a nest is in the area. The invasive species, sometimes called murder hornets, can decimate honeybees and other pollinators, threatening ecosystems and agriculture. Fifteen of them have now been found in Washington since they were first seen here last year.


Public scoring ends tonight in Port of Seattle’s renaming campaign for 6 Duwamish River parks

The Port of Seattle owns and operates six public parks along the Duwamish River that many people don’t even know exist. That’s changing as the port engages community in a renaming process meant to help residents reclaim the properties and their heritage.


Another air quality event could hit Western WA this week, but smoke forecast is murky

Forecasters here are monitoring smoke from California that has the potential to reach Western Washington this week. Easterly winds have revved up and the smoke is accumulating offshore. Some of it is expected to flow north, but how much, exactly when and how it impacts air quality once it arrives are all open questions at this point.


Lummi tribe continues pressing for return of Puget Sound orca held captive for 50 years

Fifty years ago this week, the killer whale some call Lolita arrived at Miami Seaquarium. She was captured at Penn Cove, in the waters off Whidbey Island, in early August 1970, along with dozens of other young orcas. Sold for about $20,000, she arrived in Miami on Sept. 23, where she received her stage name and has lived ever since, in an 80-by-35-foot tank. Originally named Tokitae by her trainers, she is the last surviving Southern Resident orca in captivity.


Pierce County executive pushes for dam removal after owner’s use of harmful AstroTurf

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier says he wants to see the obsolete Electron Dam removed from the Puyallup River . This comes after an employee revealed that the private owner of the dam was illegally using discarded AstroTurf in the river during work on upgrades this summer.