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


Unanimous county council vote bans new refineries, fossil fuel facilities at Cherry Point

"No one got everything they wanted, but we have a very good compromise on the table. … Please pass this ordinance as amended July 13."


Murray pushes climate as Senate tackles infrastructure, budget measures

Negotiations continue in the U.S. Senate around massive infrastructure and budget measures. U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, is among the Senate Democrats pushing provisions aimed at addressing climate change .


Makah Tribe remains closed to outsiders while resuming annual Makah Days festival

Every year in late August, the tiny Makah Nation welcomes neighboring tribes and others from all over the state to celebrate its traditions and learn about its unique culture. Many of the protocols on display during Makah Days were developed over millennia in its homelands on the far northwest corner of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.


J-pod orcas missing from inland waters of Salish Sea for more than 100 days

It’s peak season for whale watching in the Salish Sea. But the iconic southern resident killer whales that for decades spent their summers here have been scarce, likely because of a lack of salmon.


Official death toll from heat wave at 78 in Washington – and it's expected to rise

11:45 a.m.: Updated with new information from the state Department of Health. The Washington state Department of Health has a preliminary tally of heat-related deaths in the past week. At least 78 people died statewide because of the scorching temperatures that began June 26.


Study: How smoke affects birds in Washington ... and our ability to see them

We know that people suffer when smoke from wildfires fills the air. It’s a nuisance and a health hazard. But how does it affect wildlife? Researchers at the University of Washington are tackling that question.


How Washington state may (finally) be leading on climate action

State lawmakers passed significant legislation this session that takes concrete steps to address climate pollution and the concerns of communities that it has harmed the most in Washington. KNKX environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp sat down with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick to talk about the changes that will be taking place in our state.


Extreme heat came at worst possible time for Washington raspberry growers

Cool offshore flow and mild summer heat normally make western Washington an ideal place to grow red raspberries. The state commission for that crop reports growers here provide about 70 percent of the nation’s premium flash-frozen raspberries. But the record heat has left immature berries sunburnt, while causing ripe ones to melt and shrivel on the vine.


Federal court: Puyallup River dam needs permits under Endangered Species Act before it can restart

In another blow to the operators of the Electron Dam on the Puyallup River, a judge in federal District Court has barred its parent company from diverting any water to generate power until it gets permits under the Endangered Species Act.


Researchers identify shellfish-killing phytoplankton behind massive summer die-offs in Puget Sound

In July of 2018 and 2019, large numbers of oysters, cockles and clams died on beaches all around Puget Sound. No one knew why. It was a particularly bad couple of years, but summer mortality events with mass die-offs of shellfish happen regularly. They’ve been recorded by researchers in western Washington as far back as the 1930s. The source has remained a mystery.


Native leader calls him a 'snake,' but Inslee defends veto of tribal consent in cap-and-trade law

Anger lingers among tribal leaders in Washington after a surprise veto from Gov. Jay Inslee last month. As he signed the cap and trade Climate Commitment Act, the governor struck down new powers for tribes.


Invasive green crabs continue to spread in Washington, especially in coastal estuaries

European green crabs were found in Washington’s inland waters in 2016, prompting extensive monitoring. Now state officials say this destructive invasive species is spreading in several coastal locations. They thrive in shallow water and soft sediment, which Washington’s estuaries provide. And over the past two years it seems the populations of green crab are exploding, especially on the coast.


Special group of gray whales returns each year for shrimp ‘buffet' around Whidbey Island

Every spring, gray whales migrate up the West Coast on a 12,000-mile round-trip from their calving grounds in Mexico to the Alaskan Arctic, where they feed on tiny crustaceans. Since early 2019, an unusual mortality event has reduced their population by more than 20 percent. Whales wash up severely emaciated or sometimes suffer from ship strikes or entanglements made worse by lack of food. But researchers in Washington have identified a small group of gray whales that returns to Puget Sound...


Earth Day celebration calls on Port of Seattle for a pollution-free Salish Sea

A celebration of Earth Day in honor of the Salish Sea took aim at the Port of Seattle Thursday. Representatives of several groups, including 350.org and the Center for Biological Diversity, called attention to the port’s impact on marine life.


SR3 SeaLife Rescue Center brings critical care closer for Pacific Northwest marine animals

Even as human impacts cause increasing numbers of animal strandings along beaches in Washington and Oregon, there has been a gap in critical care for them. Till now, there was no marine wildlife hospital in either state dedicated to rehabilitating hurt or sick animals.


Washington sets ambitious goal: All new cars sold will be electric by 2030

In less than a decade, all cars and light-duty vehicles sold in Washington will be powered by electricity, not fossil fuels. That’s the goal set within legislation that has passed the state House and Senate. The 2030 timeline is now part of a bill that aims to prepare the state for a zero-emissions transportation future. It’s on its way to Gov. Jay Inslee for signing.


Law to reduce plastic waste, ban polystyrene foam statewide passes House floor vote

It looks increasingly likely that Washington will ban plastic foam, reduce plastic waste and strengthen recycling markets. A bill to that effect is nearly through the Legislature.


Leafline Trails Coalition working to expand, connect regional network of accessible trails

Throughout the central Puget Sound region, wide trails offer the promise of safe and accessible transportation corridors for people who bike or walk. Many are converted railroad right-of-ways, and some connect to high-speed transit. But many stand alone, limiting their utility.


State urges spring boaters to take safety courses (and wear a life vest)

Spring has sprung, many people are now vaccinated and there’s renewed excitement to get outdoors. The pandemic has again led to a surge in outdoor recreation as people look for safe things to do in the open air.


A law to reduce plastic waste, ban plastic foam statewide is advancing in Legislature

A law that would respond to the plastic waste crisis in the U.S. is advancing in the state Legislature. It passed the state Senate earlier this month; a hearing in the House appropriations committee is expected this week.