Energy Company Reveals Plan to Power Northwest with Dirty Coal for Next 20 Years
Yesterday, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) released its final Integrated Resource Plan that maintains the Northwest region’s reliance on coal for another generation. PSE is the largest owner of the outdated, dirty coal plant in Colstrip, MT, and generates about 30 percent of its electricity from the plant and other increasingly-expensive coal sources.
Calling on PSE to invest in clean energy solutions as well as Washington communities, the Sierra Club and community partners barged an inflatable coal plant with a sign reading “PLEASE PSE, RETIRE COAL. INVEST IN CLEAN ENERGY” surrounded by “Clean Energy” kayaks. These images served as a backdrop to a press conference where local leaders and concerned residents spoke out against the utility's continued practice of burning coal to power Washington.
“While PSE supports many clean-energy programs, it also owns the largest, most polluting coal-fired power plant in the Northwest,” said Doug Howell of the Sierra Club. “Right now, PSE has a momentous opportunity to invest in clean energy and create good jobs in Washington State by moving beyond coal. Instead of continuing to rely on this toxic fossil fuel, which harms people’s health and the environment, it’s time for PSE to completely replace coal with cleaner forms of energy."
The movement to help PSE transition from coal to clean energy has recently galvanized Washingtonians who see costly coal pollution as standing in the way of much needed local clean energy jobs and a sustainable energy infrastructure. Residents say that PSE’s plan for another 20 years of coal fired pollution from its coal plant should serve as a wake up call to take immediate action.
“Our future does not lie in old, dirty coal-fired power, but in making homes more sustainable, lowering electricity bills, and creating a wave of innovation in the wind and solar industries,” said Dave Asher, a Kirkland, WA, city council member. “As we upgrade our buildings and invest in new sources of energy, we can create jobs, stimulate new businesses, and create a diverse and safe energy future.”
More than 150 coal plants across the country, including the Northwest’s TransAlta and Boardman plants, are on a path to retirement as the U.S. moves away from its reliance on coal. This has opened up the doors to a flood of clean energy investment and a new era of healthy air and clean power.
“PSE’s final recommendation puts ratepayers at risk because its coal plant is riddled with potential liabilities,” said Eric de Place of Sightline Institute. “PSE’s customers could find themselves facing more costs for addressing public health concerns, complying with clean air laws and reducing carbon emissions.”
Activists from all around PSE’s territory joined in yesterday’s event. Annie Newcomb, an activist from Issaquah, WA, says that in the next few years, PSE will be faced with increasing costs for pollution controls at its aging coal plant. “They, and we, have a choice to make—dump hundreds of millions of dollars of our hard-earned money into an outdated coal plant, or invest in clean energy jobs here in the Northwest,” said Newcomb.
Chiara D'Angelo, a high-school student from Bainbridge Island, says that the threat of climate disruption concerns many of her friends and classmates, and she worries about what the future will look like if the problem worsens. “This coal plant is a huge contributor to climate change, an urgent threat to our families, communities and to future generations. The cost of climate change impacts is too great to ignore. I expect my PSE to create a more sustainable future,” said D’Angelo.
The group urged local residents to make sure their voices are heard by sending comments to the Utility and Transportation Commission to call for a true assessment of costs for PSE’s coal consumption. The public comment process commenced yesterday with the release of PSE’s Integrated Resource Plan.
Visit EcoWatch’s COAL page for more related news on this topic.
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The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.
By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma
Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.
A Good News Story?<p>On the surface, the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13569" target="_blank">results from our study</a> appear to provide a "good news" story. Warming temperatures were linked to higher numbers of fish, more species overall and, therefore, potentially more fishing opportunities for northerners.</p><p>Initially, we were surprised to learn that warming was increasing the distribution of cold-adapted fish. We reasoned that modest amounts of warming could lead to benefits such as increased food and winter habitat availability without reaching stressful levels for many species.</p>
Photo of Arctic grayling (left) and Dolly Varden trout (right). Alyssa Murdoch / Lilian Tran / Nunavik Research Centre and Tracey Loewen / Fisheries and Oceans Canada<p>Yet, not all fish species fared equally well. Ecologically unique northern species — those that have evolved in colder, more nutrient-poor environments, such as Arctic grayling and Dolly Varden trout — were showing declines with warming.</p>
Fish Strandings and Buried Eggs<p>Recent news headlines run the gamut for Pacific salmon — from their increased escapades <a href="https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/more-pacific-salmon-showing-up-in-western-arctic-waters/" target="_blank">into the Arctic</a> to <a href="https://www.juneauempire.com/news/warm-waters-across-alaska-cause-salmon-die-offs/" target="_blank">massive pre-spawning die-offs</a> in central Alaska. Similarly, results from our study revealed different outcomes for fish depending on local climatic conditions, including Pacific salmon.</p><p>We found that warmer spring and fall temperatures may be helping juvenile salmon by providing a longer and more plentiful growing season, and by supporting early egg development in northern regions that were previously too cold for survival.</p><p>In contrast, salmon declined in regions that were experiencing wetter fall conditions, pointing to an increased risk of flooding and sedimentation that could bury or dislodge incubating eggs.</p>
Headwaters of the Wind River within the largely intact Peel River watershed in northern Canada. Don Reid / Wildlife Conservation Society Canada / Author provided<p>Interestingly, we found that certain climatic combinations, such as warmer summer water temperatures with decreased summer rainfall, were important in determining where Pacific salmon could survive. Summer warming in drier watersheds led to declines, suggesting that lowered streamflows may have increased the risk of fish becoming stranded in subpar habitats that were too warm and crowded.</p>
The Fate of Northern Fisheries<p>The promise of a warmer and more accessible Arctic has attracted mounting interest in new economic opportunities, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103637" target="_blank">including fisheries</a>. As warming rates at higher latitudes are already <a href="https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/" target="_blank">two to three times global levels</a>, it seems probable that northern biodiversity will experience dramatic shifts in the coming decades.</p><p>Despite the many unknowns surrounding the future of Pacific salmon, many fisheries are currently <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/03632415.2017.1374251" target="_blank">thriving following warmer and more productive northern oceans</a>, and some <a href="https://doi.org/10.14430/arctic68876" target="_blank">Arctic Indigenous communities are developing new salmon fisheries</a>.</p><p>As warming continues, the commercial salmon fishing industry is poised to expand northwards, but its success will largely depend on extenuating factors such as <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060023067" target="_blank">changes to marine habitat and food sources</a> and <a href="https://www.yukon-news.com/news/promising-chinook-salmon-run-failed-to-materialize-in-the-yukon-river-panel-hears/" target="_blank">how many fish are caught during the freshwater stages of their journey</a>.</p><p>Even with the potential for increased northern biodiversity, it is important to recognize that some northern communities may be unable to adapt or may <a href="https://thenarwhal.ca/searching-for-the-yukon-rivers-missing-chinook/" target="_blank">lose individual species that are associated with important cultural values</a>.</p>
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If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Interviews With Contact Tracers<p>Contact tracing is a public health strategy that involves identifying everyone who may have been in contact with a person who has the coronavirus. Contact tracers collect information and provide guidance to help contain the transmission of disease.</p><p>It's been used during outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Ebola, measles, and now the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.</p><p>It starts when the local department of health gets a report of a confirmed case of the coronavirus in its community and gives that person a call. The contact tracer usually provides information on how to isolate and when to get treatment, then tries to figure out who else the person may have exposed.</p><p>"We ask who they've been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to symptom onset, or 2 days before the date of their positive test if they don't have symptoms," said <a href="https://case.edu/medicine/healthintegration/people/heidi-gullett" target="_blank">Dr. Heidi Gullett</a>, associate director of the Center for Community Health Integration at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and medical director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health in Ohio.</p>
“You’ve Been Exposed”<p>After the case interview, contact tracers will get to work calling the folks who may have been exposed to the coronavirus by the person who tested positive.</p><p>"We give them recommendations about quarantining or isolating, getting tested, and what to do if they become sick. If they're not already sick, we still want them to self-quarantine so that they don't spread the disease to anyone else if they were to become sick," said Labus.</p><p>Generally, the contact tracer won't ask for additional contacts unless they happen to call someone who is sick or has a confirmed case of the virus. They will help ensure the contact has the resources they need to isolate themselves, if necessary. The contact tracer may continue to stay in touch with that person over the next 14 days.</p><p>"We follow the percentage of people that were contacts, then converted into being actual cases of the virus. It's an important marker to help us understand what kind of transmission happens in our community and how to control the virus," said Gullett.</p>
Why You Should Participate (and What Happens If You Don’t)<p>A <a href="https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30457-6/fulltext" target="_blank">Lancet study</a> from June 16, which looked at data from more than 40,000 people, found that COVID-19 transmission could be reduced by 64 percent through isolating those who have the coronavirus, quarantining their household, and contacting the people they may have exposed.</p><p>The combination strategy was significantly more effective than mass random testing or just isolating the sick person and members of their household.</p><p>However, contact tracing is only as effective as people's willingness to participate, and a small number of people who've contracted the coronavirus or were potentially exposed are reluctant to talk.</p><p>"Contact tracers have all been hung up on, cussed at, yelled at," said Gullet.</p><p>The hesitation to talk to contact tracers often stems from concerns over privacy — a serious issue in healthcare.</p>
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