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Oregon Makes History with Legislation to Replace Coal with Clean Energy


#1

Oregon Makes History with Legislation to Replace Coal with Clean Energy

Mary Anne Hitt

On Wednesday, the Oregon state legislature passed a bill that is one of most significant actions ever taken in the United States on climate change and clean energy.


#2

I had not idea that Oregon has any coal generation - it must already be a small amount.


#3

they have one plant that generates 550mw running coal. The legislation indicates they will no longer import Coal generated power from other States but I wonder on just how that will work.


#4

First steps are always small steps and yet psychologically, emotionally and ethically Oregon led the way. That breaking the ice matters even if Oregon's dependence on coal is not as great as elsewhere.

The point is that less coal will be burned in this world of ours and every bit helps. Oregon will now develop a future energy grid that will meet their needs instead of needlessly prolonging a less useful fossil fuel based one at great cost and which will have to be replaced anyway.

I for one applaud the news and appreciate your piece announcing it. Some good news is always welcome in the fight against climate change.

Yay Oregon!


#6

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#7

Good for the people of Oregon and the downwinders! But on a cautionary note, too bad for those who live in proximity to coal ash superfund sites. They aren't going away that cheaply any time soon. (Or without life-threatening toxin remains.) Connect this mess to the Hanford, WA superfund nuclear "cluster", nestled in the northern reaches of the Columbia River drainage basin that separates north-central Oregon and Washington state. We're lookin' at a probable $trillion$ dollar clean-up (over 100 years if at all possible) The populations down river need this info.


#8

" the “Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Plan", will move Oregon completely off coal by 2030 - including phasing out coal power being imported into the state on the grid - and ensure that most of that power is replaced by clean energy by doubling the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent by 2040. "

A couple of notes:

If Colorado doubles electrical generating renewables to 50% by 2040, first, that's 50% too little and more than a decade too late, And since the bill has to do with electricity production and not primary energy, it will probably not move Oregon completely off coal, only off coal for electricity. So it's even too littler, too later.

Yes, I suppose it's good news that someone has finally agreed to apply the brakes on their part of the train as it's going over the cliff rather than after it smashes in the ravine below. But we need to make the changes that will help civilization actually survive, not the ones that help us pretend we're doing that.


#9

Bear in mind that not everyone thinks it's clean or green to industrialize vast areas of scenery that used to be easy on the eyes and ears. The wind turbine industry is being subsidized to build highly inefficient machines that blight landscapes for dozens of miles around any given "farm." The case of Steens Mountain in Oregon is a good example of what wind developers want to do to much of Oregon. The Steens project (and its necessary power lines) was blocked by an appeals court but many nice landscapes aren't so lucky.

Look into the Whistling Ridge proposal near White Salmon, WA for another typical example. Gorge scenery is under increasing threat from this so-called beneficial power source. Dams and oil trains are hardly the only menace to quality of life. In turbine-infested eastern Oregon (e.g. Wasco) it's a lost cause already. The region looks like an alien landing port with red lights all night.

Do the research and you'll see how un-green these huge machines really are. Wind power is entirely dependent on fossil fuels to exist and hasn't reduced much carbon due to the need for backup power when the wind dies. They are mortal enemies of birds, and kill bats in a way that nothing else does. Such deaths will only increase as turbine numbers grow (250,000+ already mar the world's landscapes) and affected species often aren't found in cities, which blows the usual excuse that "other things like cats kill them" whereas wind power kills for the Greater Good.


#10

Define the word "clean," please. Do landscapes riddled with 400-600 foot towers qualify as environmentally clean or green just because they don't burn coal? Coal is probably involved in a lot of the metal smelting for wind turbines, and have you seen how many truck-trips it takes to move wind turbine components, or the roads blasted to deliver them to mountaintops? Trees are permanently clear-cut to make safe spaces around them, as they can catch fire. They certainly don't replace oil's utility and never will.

Once you research what's really going on with wind power it's nearly impossible to call them good for nature and they fail economically without subsidies. Wind is a very intermittent energy source, even in the better locations, so 24/7 backup power is always needed from coal, gas or nuclear, depending on the region. Hydro and wind have a lot in common but hydro is a lot more reliable.


#11

Sorry for the delay, I've been away.

In answer to your first question: Yes.

In answer to every other point you make: Sorry, you're wrong.

You reveal your emotional (&/or financial) bias with inflammatory words like "riddled." Here's a better image for "riddled"--a landscape riddled with the horrific wreck of fossil and nuclear energy is far worse in every way. I've seen so-called "reclaimed" coal mines; decades later they still reek, and ooze the pus of fossil fuels in a land devastated by its exploitive, extractive history. The idea that coal or uranium mines and oil and gas fields are somehow preferable to the gorgeous and inspiring sight of wind turbines slowly spinning our way out of catastrophe is absurd and despicable.

I'm looking forward to turbines even taller, (latest--1,000 feet) since that opens vast new areas to viable development of the wind resources there. That will include many areas inhabited sparsely or not at all so you in your ridiculous state of bias can comfort yourself by knowing you’ll never see them. Personally, I’d go a long way for the sight of a thousand foot wind turbine gracefully replacing megajoules of burning offensive toxins. And of course the most reliable wind is offshore.

Obviously, while fossil fuels are used to make renewable energy components now, as more of our energy comes from renewable sources, more renewable components will be made using renewable energy--until they all are. This is already happening and you can do a search for solar (or wind) powered factories to see some examples. Electric vehicles, especially trains, powered by solar, wind and other renewables, take care of that issue in the same way.

Your knowledge of renewable energy is lacking; you should look up the facts. Solar, wind and other renewables are complementary, and can be hocketed to provide all the energy humanity needs. No other source is needed. As we get up toward 100% of the grid renewable we may find we need to use some storage, although maybe not. Renewable systems using either battery or pumped hydro storage are now competitive with fossil and fissile systems.

Fossil fuels (and the same is pretty much true for nukes) get 10 times the subsidies renewables get in the US, and most of the subsidies for renewables go to corn ethanol, which is neither renewable nor sane. So the actual figures for relative subsidies show fossils and nukes getting roughly 100 times what solar and wind and other viable, ecological renewables get. There's absolutely no sane justification for taxpayer subsidies of fuels that cause so such incredible ecological and human health damage (while destroying democracy and encouraging and enabling tyranny), or fuels that will destroy civilization if not abandoned immediately. There's absolutely no sane justification for taxpayer subsidies of any industry that makes hundreds of billions of dollars in profit every year and has been well established for more than a century. There absolutely ARE excellent reasons to subsidize renewables, which are our only way of avoiding climate catastrophe. Wind and solar are already cheaper than any fossil or fissile fuel in many places, even counting the vast and unfair disparity in subsidies, and their price continues its meteoric fall (down >90% in 20 years) while fossil and nuclear fuels continue to increase in cost. That's not even counting the enormous externalities fossils and nukes have been granted. And of course the best energy sources of all are efficiency and wiser lives.

The best countries in the world to live in are the countries with a high percentage of diverse renewables. Renewables: cheaper, faster, cleaner, wiser. More ecological, more democratical. More esthetical. Better in every way.


#12

You're right, not everyone is sane or smart. Some people prefer the continued, ever-expanding stain of wastelands caused by fossil and fissile fuel exploitation.

But again, of course, almost everything you say is wrong. The fact that we currently use fossil fuels to build things doesn't change the fact that increasingly, clean, safe, reliable renewable energy is built by clean, safe, reliable renewable energy. That trend continues; renewable energy infrastructure can and will be entirely built by clean, safe, reliable renewable energy, just like we can do everything else we need with it. Systems including onshore and offshore wind, solar PV, solar thermal, passive and active solar space and water heating, solar cooking (can make major improvements in the third world) and other solar energy applications, hydro, geothermal, tidal, wave and other renewables. and of course the cheapest and by far the best sources of energy--efficiency, conservation, and wiser and more ecological lives in an equal world--provide their own back up. Nothing else is needed.

Coal kills 17 times as many birds per kilowatt as wind does, nuclear kills twice as many, and that's a huge understatement of the problem with it. Coal, etc. kill millions of other species--amphibians, reptiles, mammals, (including of course, bats), fish, insects, plants, and every other kind; it causes horrific harm to human health. It's the main source of toxic mercury in the world, including that in the oceans and in ocean fish people eat. It's a major source of dozens of other heavy metals and toxic substances. Fossil fuels are the main cause of air pollution which kills millions of people and uncountable other beings every year, wastes trillions in health, productivity and other externalized costs. The EROEI of fossil fuels continues to decline (oil's was 100:1 in the 1930s, now about 12:1). Other even worse fuels (tar sands, oil shales, gasified coal, etc.) replace them. Meanwhile the EROEI of renewables is improving; the number of birds killed by coal, oil has and nukes rises, while wind's declines, as it already has, tremendously, from its already very low point.

Everything humans do has effects. Buildings, cars, chemical agriculture, habitat loss caused largely by meat-eating and lumber (as well as inequality and the manipulations of social order by the tyrannical governments that result from that inequality), communication towers, golf courses, and yes, cats, kill many millions of times more birds than wind, so to disparage wind while ignoring the effects of those is nonsensical, ridiculous, and despicable.

Those death tolls (coal kills 17 times more with each unit of energy, remember, and infinitely more of other species) aren't the whole story, considering the integrated system of other renewables wind fits into, which makes the effects of wind even more benign, especially in comparison. They don't include climate effects of fossil fuels, which will cause massive extinctions, possibly including humans, possibly including all life on Earth. Renewable energy is the most beneficial energy source humans have ever invented--the best thing we've done for nature in 10,000 years.

And you think wind is worse because you don't like the way it looks? (It must be that because all your other beliefs about it are wrong.) And the truth is, it looks thousands of times better than all the alternatives--you just don't see the effects of most of those. So you're perfectly willing for other people and the rest of nature to suffer horrifically, as long as your view isn't improved by something you don't happen to like. You really should get into therapy to find out why you hold such irrational positions.