December 8, 2013 at 12:50 PM
A burn ban is in effect in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties due to stagnant weather conditions and increasing levels of air pollution.
Puget Sound Clean Air Energy said the ban prohibits the use of fireplaces and uncertified woodstoves in all three counties. In addition, the use of pellet stoves and certified woodstoves is prohibited in Snohomish County where the ban is categorized as a Stage 2 ban.
The ban will continue until further notice but does not affect those who depend on a wood-burning device as their only source of heat, according to the agency.
“Calling a burn ban when it’s this cold out is not something we want to do, or that we take lightly,” Craig Kenworthy, the executive director of the agency, wrote in a news statement released Sunday. “People in our region have already been exposed to high levels of fine particle pollution a number of times this year. We’re asking people to use another source of heat for what we hope is a short time.”
The purpose of a ban is to reduce the amount of pollution due to excessive wood smoke. Violators could be subject to a $1,000 fine, the agency said.
November 1, 2013 at 11:07 AM
The Associated Press
Forecasters say a storm will blow into the state Saturday with strong winds on the coast and Puget Sound region and snow in the mountains down to the highway passes.
The National Weather Service says a passing cold front could bring 50 mph wind gusts on the north coast, Strait of Juan de Fuca and northwest interior while parts of the southwest interior and Puget Sound area could be hit by wind gusts in the 40s.
Forecasters say Snoqualmie and Stevens passes could have 6 inches of snow accumulating by mid-day Sunday. A foot of new snow is possible on Mount Rainier.
Eastern Washington also will have mountain snow and winds Saturday, with gusts up to 40 mph possible over the Columbia Basin.
Also, starting today, studded tires are legal on Washington roadways.
They’ll have to come off cars at the end of March, when the threat of snow-and-ice covered highways has passed.
November 1, 2013 at 8:58 AM
President Barack Obama has selected Gov. Jay Inslee and 25 other elected officials to serve on a climate change task force.
Inslee’s office on Friday said the panel will include governors, mayors, county officials and tribal leaders from a range of states and communities.
“Washingtonians are every day seeing the dangerous effects of climate change in more devastating wildfires, increasing ocean acidification, and other impacts that are already taking a toll on our economy and our natural resources. And while we undertake actions to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving these dangerous climate shifts, we must as a state and nation better prepare our communities and our infrastructure to face these accelerating impacts,” Inslee said in a statement.
Inslee earlier this week joined with the governors of California and Oregon and the premier of British Columbia to sign an agreement that promises to jointly attack climate change by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
The president’s task force is expected to deliver recommendations to Obama within a year, and disband no later than six months after delivering the recommendations.
A fact sheet released by the White House said the task force “will provide recommendations to the President on removing barriers to resilient investments, modernizing Federal grant and loan programs to better support local efforts, and developing the information and tools they need to prepare.”
The task force builds on efforts Obama announced in June to combat global warming, including the first-ever limits on climate pollution from new and existing power plants. Inslee focused on climate issues during his time in Congress and is now continuing that work as governor.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this post.
October 23, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Issaquah voters will decide in February whether to repeal a law banning the use of plastic bags in most stores.
Responding to an initiative that required action by the City Council, council members voted 6-0 (with Tola Marts absent), to put the issue on the Feb. 11 ballot.
King County Elections determined earlier this month that a petition to repeal the bag ban had qualified for the ballot. Save Our Choice, organized by Seattle resident Craig Keller, sponsored the initiative and circulated petitions.
Keller has criticized the ban as intrusive and ineffective.
The law, passed by the City Council last year, banned most plastic shopping bags and requires retailers to collect a 5-cent fee on paper bags. It went into effect in March.
October 21, 2013 at 10:14 AM
By Shawn Vestal
The Spokesman Review / MCT
MOSCOW, Idaho — Malcolm Renfrew didn’t invent Teflon.
But one of the fascinating developments of Renfrew’s fascinating life was that he frequently had to correct people who said he did. It was Renfrew — a son of Spokane who went on to a long, distinguished association with the University of Idaho — who introduced the stuff to the world and who oversaw the team that developed uses for the miracle plastic to which nothing would stick.
Over the past half-century, Teflon has found its way into everything from medical to military applications, but its most famous use — apart from its metaphorical perfection for describing slippery people — is the nonstick frying pan.
“We knew it would be an important chemical,” he once said of Teflon, “although it was not easy to fabricate. The frying pan thing. … I would never have imagined that.”
Renfrew died Saturday in his Moscow home. It was his 103rd birthday. His influence lingers all over the University of Idaho campus — from Renfrew Hall, to the Renfrew lecture series, to the Renfrew fellowship endowment. He helped create the university’s chemistry department and guided decades of scientists through their educations. He painted watercolors of Palouse scenes and played trombone in the Vandal Boosters Non-Marching Pep Band. Two years ago, his birthday was declared Malcolm Renfrew Day in Idaho.
Still, it was his role as a DuPont chemist developing Teflon in the 1930s and ’40s that became his obituary headline.
Renfrew presented the first paper on the substance — titled “Polytetrafluorethylene: heat-resistant, chemically inert plastic” — at a meeting of the American Chemistry Society in Atlantic City, N.J., in 1946; the story was picked up by wire services and ran in newspapers around the country.
“PLASTIC DEFIES HEAT AND ACIDS” read a small headline in The Spokesman-Review at the time. The article quoted Renfrew as saying, “No substance has been found which will dissolve or even swell” the plastic.
Renfrew gave a more colorful account of the speech and surrounding events, including some shenanigans with “barfly newsmen,” in an interview he gave in 1987 to the Chemical Heritage Foundation.
October 18, 2013 at 1:59 PM
EVERETT (AP) — Snow geese have begun arriving in Western Washington for their winter stay.
The Daily Herald reports birds have been landing this week in fields near Stanwood.
The state Fish and Wildlife Department says about 80,000 snow geese winter in Western Washington each year, most in the Skagit Valley.
Birdwatchers can see them at the Fir Island Farm Reserve Unit of the Skagit Wildlife area.
October 10, 2013 at 1:32 PM
A group of University of Washington students has asked the school’s governing board to take the first step toward divesting in fossil fuels.
The student-led Fossil Fuels Divestment Campaign has worked with the school’s treasury office to create a set of guidelines that would encourage the UW to seek out investments in alternative energy and examine investments through the lens of environmental and social values.
One of the suggested policies — asking the university to collaborate with other institutional investors on letter-writing campaigns and shareholder proxies targeting fossil fuel companies — will require approval from the Board of Regents, the UW’s governing board. Students will come back to the regents in November to seek that permission, but they said they were confident they could get approval.
The students made their presentation Thursday to the regents along with UW associate treasurer Ann Sarna; the treasury office helped develop the approach. “Treasury has already ran the analyses and made sure this is not only feasible, but financially responsible,” said Sarra Tekola, an undergraduate majoring in environmental science.
The approach has also won the approval of the UW’s undergraduate student governing body, the Associated Students of the University of Washington.
Benjamin Peterson, a graduate student in library information science and political science, said it took the Sierra Club five years to divest from fossil fuels, and the proposals being put forth at the UW are similar to the first steps the environmental club took before it eventually divested.
The fossil fuel divestment campaign on college campuses is national in scope, and was started by Middlebury College professor Bill McKibben, who founded the environmental group 350.org.
“At the end of the day, this is what we need in order to divest,” Tekola said. “This is one of many steps. We’ll see how this goes, but this is not the end, and we plan to continue on.”
October 3, 2013 at 10:13 AM
RICHLAND, Tri-Cities (AP) — Six Hanford workers were taken to a Richland hospital Wednesday as a precaution after an unknown liquid spilled on some of them as they were dismantling piping in an evaporator building.
A spokesman for Department of Energy contractor Washington River Protection Solutions, Rob Roxburgh, told the Tri-City Herald the liquid was not radioactive and it was being tested.
He says some of the liquid spilled on the skin or clothing of some of the workers. A couple felt uncomfortable so all six at the location were taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center.
The piping was left from maintenance at the evaporator building. It is periodically operated to reduce the volume of radioactive and hazardous chemical liquid held in Hanford’s 28 double-shell tanks.
October 2, 2013 at 6:50 PM
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — An appeals court has upheld killing sea lions that eat too many salmon at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had told NOAA Fisheries Service it needed to do a better job of explaining why it was authorizing the killing of dozens of sea lions, which are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. And on Friday the court affirmed that the latest explanation filled the bill.
The court said the service examined the relevant data, and explained the rationale behind killing up to 92 sea lions a year to reduce the loss of threatened and endangered salmon.
The Humane Society of the United States had challenged the killing, arguing that fishing and the dams kill far more salmon than sea lions.
September 30, 2013 at 11:45 AM
Federal wildlife agents are investigating the death of an endangered gray wolf in Okanogan County in north-central Washington state.
The adult female wolf was shot and killed during a big game hunt in the area, Doug Zimmer, a spokesman with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, said Monday. Hunters were in the field hunting elk or deer in the Pasayten Wilderness and reported to state wildlife officials on Sept. 20 that they had shot and killed a wolf.
It’s not legal to hunt wolves in Washington state. Gray wolves are federally protected as endangered in the western two-thirds of Washington.
Zimmer said federal wildlife officers are working with state officials to determine whether the shooting was a legitimate accident or whether the wolf was killed under other circumstances, such as self-defense or in defense of others. It would be up to federal prosecutors to decide whether to prosecute.
The wolf that was killed was not collared and it’s unclear whether she belonged to a known pack, he said.
A spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife referred questions about the wolf to the federal agency. A state wildlife report notes that officials “have not previously verified wolf activity in this portion of the wilderness area and don’t know if the animal is part of an active pack or a solo wanderer.”
Wolves have been a controversial topic ever since the predators returned to the state much faster than expected in recent years. In 2008, there were only a handful of wolves. As of March, there is an estimated 50 to 100 animals in 10 confirmed packs, all in central and eastern Washington.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has proposed lifting most remaining federal protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states, including Washington and Oregon. Three public hearings are scheduled across the country this week to discuss the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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