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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 23, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Energy reform: Dirty coal about to go, cleaner energy on horizon

Energy council should stave off dirty coal

Coal in the Northwest is on its way out.

Most of the Northwest’s new energy needs — 85 percent — can be met simply with energy conservation, according to a new report released Aug. 11 by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC). This is very encouraging because the NPCC guides most of our region’s energy policy.

This offers the Northwest the alluring ability to affordably and safely expand our own regional energy base. We, as citizens, homeowners and consumers, can implement energy-conservation measures immediately. Individuals can save money on their energy bills. New green jobs must be created to deal with the conservation need. This will also wean us off the dirty coal energy that embarrassingly makes up a fifth of our energy.

Unfortunately, the council has delayed full release of its findings until all the members from different states reach agreement. I urge Washington-state members to stay committed to a clean-energy future.

— Thea Reinert, Seattle

Coal should stay out of energy plans

On Aug. 12, you reported [“Power-plan draft relies heavily on conservation,” NWWeekend] that 85 percent of our region’s new energy needs could be met by energy conservation, according to a new power plan being developed by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

What the economists and energy experts on this council have determined is that we have the opportunity to safely and affordably replace the region’s need for coal power within the next decade by investing in safer alternatives to coal and using our energy more efficiently. This will save consumers money because we will be able to power our homes using less energy, and it will create thousands of clean energy jobs to revitalize our economy. This will also improve the health of our communities and environment by ending our dependence on dirty coal power, which currently makes up about a fifth of our region’s energy usage.

Now the power council has announced that they are delaying the release of their plan as members from other states are unable to agree on all the details. I encourage the Washington members of the council to stay strong and to keep on working for a strong road map to a bright future powered by clean and healthy energy.

— Ethan Bergerson, Seattle

Following energy status quo will lead to catastrophe

Thank you for the article [“Carbon capture key to clean coal,” Business, Aug. 16] on the obstacles confronting the coal industry as it tries to control carbon dioxide emissions with Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS).

If we’ve learned anything from our foray into nuclear power, it is that long-term storage of hazardous waste is something that is easy to talk about but almost impossible to implement.

The technological difficulties, costs and absence of logic surrounding CCS defy explanation. The article failed to mention two other detrimental components of coal-generated electricity: the destruction of mountain tops and streams to extract the coal from the ground in the first place and the disposal problem associated with the poisonous ash residue left after the coal has burned.

How many solar plants, wind farms, geothermal facilities and conservation measures could we afford instead?

The coal industry and its lobbyists will try to convince us that alternative energy cannot possibly substitute for coal. As the recent economic collapse illustrates, however, that kind of blind and arrogant disregard for anything but the status quo will only lead to catastrophe.

The sooner we transform our energy dependence away from fossil fuels the sooner we will begin building an economic and ecologically sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.

— Mark Quinn, Olympia

Comments | More in Carbon emissions, Energy, Environment

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