July 31, 2013 at 7:34 PM
Continue the conversation
Diane Cardwell’s article in The Times only tells a fraction of the story of electric utilities and solar customers, but it is a conversation starter. [“Solar customers costing us, utilities say,” Business, July 31.]
What is missing? Costs that utilities create that are borne by customers: climate change, heavy-metal pollution, water consumption, water pollution, ecosystem destruction, excessive rates, to name a few.
Also not mentioned is the fact that utilities invest in peaking power plants that are of less use when the percentage of customer generation increases. Electric utilities are stodgy by nature, so why is their whining so important?
The integration of solar has been in the works for 20 years; had utilities done some forward thinking, they would have worked out a way to use customer generation to their advantage.
Jeremy Smithson, Puget Sound Solar, Seattle
The power companies and their investment-bank owners should be able to see an obvious pathway to continued hegemony and profits, while cutting fossil-fuel use dramatically.
The solution? Charge all customers a flat fee for the grid use and lease people’s rooftops for company-owned solar-panel systems.
The power companies would continue to make billions (and pay millions in fines) and we could all have air conditioning and watch TV. Everyone’s a winner.
Robert Reed, Seattle
May 10, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Seattle should be carbon neutral by 2020
I applaud city leaders for promoting a carbon-neutral plan for Seattle by 2050 [“Seattle plan would make city carbon neutral by 2050,” NWMonday, May 6]. Nevertheless, 2050 is far too distant a target. Most of the council will be dead by then, so it’s really an empty promise to make.Much more important is how much we cut our carbon emissions in the next decade. Dutch government scientific advisers estimate the rich countries must reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2020 if we are to have an even chance of limiting global temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius. Two degrees is the widely agreed upon limit for dangerous climate change. We have already raised temperatures by 0.8 degrees and we have lost most of the Arctic ice. Two degrees by midcentury will be playing with fire.
The Center for American Progress estimates we spent $188 billion on climate-related disasters in the last three years alone. That’s $400 per household. If people think converting to a low-carbon economy will be expensive, they ought to try to imagine how much we would have to spend in a 2 (or more) degree future, or how we will feed ourselves with growing populations, more extreme weather and lower crop yields.
The City Council should go back to the drawing board and offer us a responsible plan for significant carbon abatement by 2020 that is more in line with our intelligence and conscience.
Colin Wright, Seattle
March 25, 2013 at 7:05 AM
We are too relaxed about climate change
It is no secret by now, to anyone paying attention that the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is not only that climate change is accelerating alarmingly fast, but that it’s largely being fueled by dirty technologies. As a species, we are far too relaxed about this; I am guessing due to denial, since we are talking about a looming death threat to our entire species, and most of us simply don’t have the courage to face that horrific reality. Whether we face it or not, we are well on the road to our own destruction, and hiding from it will only make it inevitable.
The Keystone XL project being debated right now would carry tar sands, not crude oil [“Keystone fears resonate along New England pipeline,” seattletimes.com, March 17]. NASA’s leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, said that tar sands development would mean “game over for the climate.”
It seems to me the overwhelming body of evidence points to the alarming conclusion that we are killing our grandchildren, if not our children, by not acting to drastically reduce our climate impact. The proposed project instead would drastically increase it. The crimes of Hitler and all the world’s worst mass murderers would be dwarfed by our criminal decision to go ahead with Keystone.
Even for skeptics of climate-science realities, the choice to do nothing, or worse, to increase our impact, would be hopelessly immoral if there were only a 1 percent chance that science is right. We simply can’t afford to get this wrong.
Obviously, to say that approving the project would be wrong would be a spectacular understatement. We must all do everything in our power to stop it; every life on this planet is at stake, save perhaps some of the bugs and bacteria.
–Greg Vinson, Seattle
March 22, 2013 at 6:39 AM
Debate about solutions, not reality
I am disappointed to see Sen. Doug Ericksen carrying water for Big Oil and Coal by promoting climate-science denial [“Inslee’s passion: climate change,” page one, March 18]. Ericksen said, “Whenever you speak about absolutes about the science being concluded, history is replete with people being proven wrong.”
As a business owner, I’m concerned about the economic implications of ignoring science. Our economy depends on knowledge, innovation and quality science. Our commitment to research and knowledge-based economic leadership is central to our state’s success.
There’s plenty of room for philosophical debate about policy approaches to this challenge. But there is no longer a legitimate debate about the basic science. If 97 doctors diagnosed a life-threatening condition that required immediate treatment and three doctors said nothing, should one ignore the other 97? Most of the confusing information is bought and paid for by industries and political groups that remain committed to creating doubt and inaction.
We can reduce our fossil-fuel dependence while building strong local economies. Our leaders should have a robust debate about which solutions will work best. But it’s not responsible for our leaders to argue about reality or about the need to act.
–Kurt Waldenberg, North Sound Energy & Remodel, Bellingham
March 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Pipeline will lead to runaway climate change
I urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline and for your readers to speak out against it [“Obama’s climate goals shape Energy, EPA choices,” News, March 5].
Despite what a few industry-paid climate-denial “scientists” are mouthing, the scientific community as a whole is practically unanimous in validating the urgency of reducing climate-warming carbon pollution, which is a direct result of fossil fuel production and consumption.
Tar-sand fuel is a “carbon time bomb.” While our oil-addicted economy may be tempted to grab this quick fix, doing so will accelerate runaway climate change. Keystone XL will do nothing to solve America’s energy independence and only result in environmental desecration due to inevitable spills, which usually are borne unevenly by America’s poor and people of color, certainly not those few shareholders who are lobbying in D. C. heavily for this project.
As individuals, as a nation and as an interdependent global community, we need to take responsibility now for a sustainable energy future through massive investments in solar, wind and other sources. We still have options to forge a path of sustainability for our children and future generations, but time is not on our side.
–Jordan Van Voast, Seattle
We need the economic stimulus
I’m responding to the letter “Obama nominees and Keystone Pipeline” [Northwest Voices, March 11]:
How do you know the pipeline will contribute to climate change? How do you know job creation will be negligible? Strong statements without backup.
I’m a new Washingtonian from Alaska (30 years). I’m familiar with the trans-Alaska Pipeline. Maintenance alone requires a workforce on a pipeline. When running pigs through the pipeline for diagnostics, people are required to read and respond to the data. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company employs 800 people plus contracted workers; all good-paying jobs. The pipeline is 35 years old and has pumped nearly 17 billion barrels.
Climate change: You’re hard pressed to convince Alaskans the pipeline damages the environment — even at Prudhoe Bay where oil enters the line. It’s heavily monitored, as it should be. Alaska’s pipeline record demonstrates a pipeline can be placed in delicate/fragile environments without damage. The Porcupine Caribou herd has only increased since the pipeline completion.
Alaska is planning a natural-gas line and has the track record to support another project. Please consider these facts. I hope Keystone Pipeline begins. We need the economic stimulus.
–Vicki Schneibel, Sequim
March 16, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Problem will be more complex, costly if ignored
We greatly appreciate the editorial “Keep Hanford a priority” [Opinion, March 11], especially with regard to the tanks that are leaking radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear reservation.
Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility has several unique education programs aimed at keeping the spotlight on the Hanford cleanup. Hazardous nuclear waste studies raise concerns that contamination is flowing into the Columbia River, endangering human health as well as natural resources. About 70 square miles of groundwater beneath Hanford is contaminated above the Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water standards with uranium, which damages the kidneys; iodine-129, which damages the thyroid; and strontium-90, a radioactive contaminant that contributes to bone cancer, suppresses the immune system and bioconcentrates in fish tissues.
The Hanford cleanup is a complex and expensive task. However, we believe the damage to human health from improper cleanup will be vastly more complex and costly if this cleanup effort is ignored or stalled.
–Richard W. Grady, MD, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle
Steven G. Gilbert, Ph.D., DABT, Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders, Seattle
March 14, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Stand up to greed
Greed may trump efforts to leave our children and their children a healthy planet. Why would anyone invest in the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fossil fuel on the plant if not out of greed?
Be a voice of sanity and let President Obama and locally elected officials know that rejection of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is one of the most important and immediate executive steps the president can take to address the climate crisis [“Obama’s climate goals shape Energy, EPA choices,” News, March 5].
NASA’s leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, said that tar sands development would mean “game over for the climate.”
Like the coal exports through the Northwest, the tar sands pipeline stands to damage the environment over the creation of sustainable jobs. Most of the money earned in both the coal and tar sands scenarios will go to a few top executives for whom money matters most.
Stand up to greed. Stand up for the Earth.
–Wendy Marcus, Seattle
Protect wildlife from climate change
President Obama must reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline if he wants to keep his promise to protect America’s wildlife and communities from climate change, a fact that’s only reinforced by a recent State Department review. That woefully inadequate analysis failed not only in its review of climate science, but whistled past the threat of oil spills to endangered wildlife.
Tar sands drilling in Canada threatens gray wolves, lynx and woodland caribou. In America’s heartland, corrosive tar sands oil raises the risk of pipeline spills, menacing endangered whooping cranes. And the global warming pollution emitted at every step of production threatens wildlife nationwide, from Alaska’s polar bears to Minnesota’s moose to Virginia’s brook trout to Colorado’s mule deer.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have raised their voices for wildlife protection and climate action. President Obama should listen to them and say no to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
–Richard Landowski, Gig Harbor
March 3, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Corporations benefit from developing countries
The ironies concerning the coal-terminal proposal range from coal replacing ancestral Lummi burial grounds to it blowing back across the Pacific as instant karma [“ ‘Green’ strategists now back coal trains,” page one, Feb. 26].
This issue is parallel with the tobacco industry. American smoking continues to decline while corporate profits continue rising. This is because we are pushers who pawn off an addiction that we are learning to resist upon less-educated countries that are in earlier stages of development. The net effect is corporate profit and sick people.
Coal is going through the same cycle. Our country has found cheaper and more environmentally friendly fuel sources. Corporate America’s solution is once again to pawn it off to other countries for profit. Except this time, there would be a trail of tears from mining to transportation to blowback. If left in the earth, new clean technology may someday make it valuable for us.
American Electric Power recently agreed to close three coal plants in the Midwest. The Clean Air Task Force determined that doing so will prevent 203 deaths, 310 heart attacks, 3,160 asthma attacks and 188 emergency-room visits annually.
What is a fair price for profit? What will it take for us to wake up?
–Harvey Schwartz, Bellingham
February 28, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Greed overtakes ‘green’
We were very disappointed with Tuesday morning’s Seattle Times page-one article concerning coal trains [“ ‘Green’ strategists now back coal trains,” Feb. 26]. The word “green” now stands for money, not ecology. Greed has taken over!
–Diane Talley and Dennis Young, Seattle
‘Green’ consultants won’t slow environmental damage
Are we really shipping U.S. coal through Washington ports to have it returned in the form of global warming?
It is already next to impossible to see 10 feet in Beijing most days, so let’s help the Chinese and stop sending them this very destructive fuel source.
Hiring “green” lobbyists to influence Washington politicians doesn’t change the shortsighted and environmentally damaging impact of mining, shipping and burning coal.
–Ted Hoppin, Bainbridge Island
February 27, 2013 at 4:00 PM
An atomic bomb was built faster
There is a historical irony in that the Manhattan Project netted us an A-bomb in less than three years, but it is taking the Department of Energy decade upon fruitless decade and wasted billions to resolve the disposition of nuclear waste at Hanford [“Treatment plant at Hanford won’t be done by 2019 deadline,” NWWednesday, Feb. 20].
Perhaps if we made both houses of Congress convene on the land overlying the leaking tanks, the whole process might be sped up immeasurably.
–Thomas Munyon, Marysville
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