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


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.


NW scientist taps into personalities, diets to help sunflower sea stars shine again

In December, sunflower sea stars were declared critically endangered by an international union of scientists. This species is the largest and hardest hit among the iconic and colorful starfish that have been devastated by a wasting syndrome.


Washington ‘HEAL’ Act would steer key state agencies toward environmental justice

Environmental justice became part of federal law in 1990. Washington might soon catch up. A proposed state law would infuse the concept into the work of seven key agencies.


Decoding earthquake history: How geologists find fossilized clues in sediment

Twenty years ago this Sunday, the Nisqually earthquake rattled the region. It registered 6.8 on the Richter scale and shook for 40 seconds. The damage was significant. Bricks flew. It caused cracks in the Capitol dome in Olympia and sealed the fate of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct as well as many older buildings in Pioneer Square. But it was nowhere near as drastic as some of the other possible geological scenarios that could lead to truly devastating shaking.


Makah rollout of vaccines nearly done as the tiny coastal nation maintains strict COVID protocols

The Makah Tribe was the first community in the state to shut down because of COVID-19. Now they’re more than halfway through a vaccine rollout and are hoping to reopen this summer. The remote nation in Northwest Washington has remained closed to visitors since mid-March , with a checkpoint on the only road in and out.


We’re way behind in meeting Paris climate goals, but local research shows how to catch up

One of the first actions by President Biden after his inauguration was bringing the U.S. back into the Paris climate agreement . A new study from a researcher at the University of Washington shows people how much more we will have to do, to meet the goals in that accord.


Whale watch companies say licensing system should be voluntary because of COVID-19

New licensing requirements for whale watch boats working in Washington waters take effect March 1. They’re the result of years of work, both from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and from the governor’s southern resident killer whale task force, which recommended the implementation of a licensing system. But this week, state lawmakers began considering changes that would weaken those rules .


As climate proposals move through Legislature, offset provisions are causing controversy

The pressure is on to pass climate bills in Olympia. Attempts to get policies through that limit carbon pollution by putting a price on it have often failed here – including two statewide voter initiatives with broad or bipartisan support.


See the Treaty of Point Elliott, exhibit on 'The Power of Words' at Tulalip Cultural Center

166 years ago this past Friday, on Jan. 22, 1855, the Treaty of Point Elliott was signed in what is now Mukilteo, Washington. The document is the source of much power for many local tribes today, but it wasn’t always that way. It’s celebrated every year in tribal ceremonies that are open to outsiders.


Orcas return to British Columbia spot where they haven't been seen since 1995

A pod of orcas has returned to a part of British Columbia where they have not been seen for years.


Settlement agreement says state must protect endangered species from polluted runoff

Endangered species in Washington will get a much-needed boost following the settlement of a major lawsuit about runoff and water quality.