Posted by: robineverett | October 17, 2009

Oregonians Demand a Coal-Free Future at Energy Hearing

Early this week in Portland, nearly 150 concerned citizens, attended a very important hearing regarding the Northwest’s energy future to demand an end to coal-fired power.

Crowd at NWPCC hearing by Bill Purcell

Crowd at NWPCC hearing by Bill Purcell

The hearing was the last in a series of hearings around the Northwest held by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC). The NWPCC is the official power planning agency for the region encompassing Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington state.

The NWPCC is currently undergoing its 6th plan which will help to determine the Northwest’s energy mix for the next 20 years. Though the plan has aggressive energy efficiency targets it does not go far enough to address the critical danger of climate change. This plan states that we do not need a single fossil fuel plant to meet our future energy needs. However, it does not reduce a single ton of carbon dioxide over the next 20 years.

We need to do better.

Scientists tell us that if we are going to have any hope of avoiding catastrophic climate change we must begin to reduce our carbon emissions NOW. We have no time to lose. Help us make this plan better and to put Oregon and Northwest onto a path towards a clean energy future.

On Wednesday, October 21st, the Sierra Club is holding a Coal-Free Northwest Rally at Pioneer Square in Downtown Portland from noon-1 pm. This fun event will include a 25ft inflatable coal plant, and interactive coal train map, and a photo-petition station where you can ask for a coal-free Oregon!

Also hear powerful firsthand stories from Wyoming family rancher L J Turner and Northern Cheyenne tribal members Otto and Barbara Braided Hair about the devastating impacts of mining and burning coal in the Powder River Basin, the source of Oregon’s dirty coal.

If you can’t make it out at noon, we will also host a Community Briefing at 7pm at the Sierra Club office located at 1821 SE Ankeny, Portland.

Click here to let us know you’re coming!

Posted by: robineverett | September 9, 2009

Flashback: PGE delivers 19th-Century energy plan

‘Business-As-Usual’ Resource Plan Locks Oregonians into a Dirty Coal Energy Future

September 4, 2009, Portland General Electric (PGE) released its Draft Integrated Resource Plan which ties Oregon’sboardman.press.event future to an antiquated, 19th-century technology. Instead of looking at diversifying its resource mix, PGE plans to continue its reliance on dirty coal power.

“Oregonians deserve better than this business-as-usual plan,” said Chad Hadsell, Sierra Club activist. “At a time when the public is calling on PGE to reduce its dependence on dirty energy and address global warming, PGE’s plan actually increases CO2 emissions and continues over-reliance on coal.”

The draft plan was released as part of PGE’s Integrated Resource Planning process, in which the utility is required to develop a low-cost energy plan to meet future and current electricity demands though a variety of energy resources. The draft calls for:

• The continued use of the PGE’s Boardman coal plant until 2040, when it will be a 70 years old;

• The investment of $600 million of customers’ money in pollution control equipment that won’t even address the plant’s huge CO2 emissions—money that could otherwise be spent on cleaner energy;

• A 19% increase in Oregon’s share of the energy generated by PGE’s Boardman coal plant;

• The addition of a new 406 MW natural gas plant – a resource that is unnecessary to meet future load growth.

Yesterday, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council released their draft 6th power plan, which states that the region can meet 85% of our load growth with energy efficiency alone. Decision-making bodies in the region like the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and the State of Oregon are setting standards for addressing global warming. PGE’s plan hardly goes far enough to help us meet global warming reduction goals.

 Boardman, Oregon’s only coal plant, is the largest stationary source of air and global warming pollution in Oregon, emitting carbon dioxide, mercury, soot, acid rain, smog and haze-causing pollutants that are also responsible for premature death, heart attacks, asthma, and other health conditions.

“By prolonging Oregon’s reliance on dirty coal, PGE is placing citizens’ health and even their lives at risk,” said Catherine Thomasson, MD of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Burning coal is damaging to the lungs, the heart, and even the nervous system. Furthermore, it’s the single largest source of America’s global warming gases. We should be turning to clean energy alternatives instead.”

The plant also pollutes more than 10 federally protected areas, including the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Mount Hood Wilderness Area, Mount Rainier National Park, and Hells Canyon Wilderness and National Recreation Area.

“PGE’s coal-fired power plant in Boardman is the single largest source of air pollution affecting the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area,” said Michael Lang, Conservation Director for Friends of the Columbia Gorge. “Pollution from this power plant is obscuring views, damaging ecosystems, and causing acid rain and fog that are likely harming Native American cultural resources. PGE should pull the plug on this aging polluter and move toward greater energy efficiency and renewable sources,” said Lang.

If PGE wants to keep Boardman running, it is required by anti-pollution laws to invest over $600 million into the Boardman coal plant for long-overdue pollution controls, money that could better be spent on energy efficiency and renewable generation. However, none of these new emission controls will curb the 5 million tons of carbon dioxide released by the plant annually. That carbon pollution will become increasingly costly as more laws mandate reductions.

“Continuing coal-generated power is an irresponsible, costly path,” said Brock Howell, advocate for Environment Oregon. “Oregon communities are investing heavily in solutions to the climate crisis, but by refusing to systematically bring Oregon’s only coal plant to closure, PGE will lock Oregon into another 40 years of toxic pollution and ensure we can’t meet our state climate goals. This has huge environmental and long-term economic liability.”

PGE considered 15 scenarios in its planning process. Some phased out the coal plant, replacing the power with cleaner energy while avoiding the investment of over $600 million in pollution controls—but these were ignored. PGE has often expressed a commitment to a new, clean energy future, but when faced with options that have roughly the same costs and risks, it chose not to. Shutting down the plant, compared to keeping it open, results in less than a ½ of a percent rate increase over the next 30 years. PGE chose dirty coal with significantly more pollution.

“PGE’s plan is an insult to the climate goals for the State of Oregon, Multnomah County, the City of Portland and concerned citizens,” Doug Howell , Campaign Director for the Sierra Club’s NW Beyond Coal campaign. “It is a backwards plan that shirks responsibility for protecting our climate. Our children will pay the price.”

In October, PGE will send its Integrated Resource Plan to the Public Utilities Commission. After considering public comment, the Commission will decide whether or not to allow the plan to move forward. We call on PGE to work with its customers, the PUC and all affected areas of Oregon to develop a better, less risky plan. An energy plan based in energy efficiency and clean renewables will benefit ratepayers, ensure a clean energy future, and provide needed jobs for Oregon’s economy.

For more, visit http://www.oregon.sierraclub.org/coal

Posted by: robineverett | August 21, 2009

Great Hike at Latourelle Falls

The Beyond Coal Campagin spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon earlier this month exploring Latourelle Falls.Latourelle_falls_hiking  Seventeen people, including Beyond Coal Activists, Sierra Club volunteers, and some new folks too, learned about the wide array of flora to be seen at Latourelle Falls and the harmful effects of the Boardman coal plant on the iconic Columbia River Gorge.

Participants wrote letters to Portland General Electric’s CEO Jim Piro asking that he consider a phase-out of the Boardman Coal Plant during the company’s Integrated Resource Planning process.

If you would like to get notices about upcoming events please e-mail Robin Everett at robin.everett@sierraclub.org

See below for more great pictures.

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Posted by: robineverett | August 14, 2009

Record energy use and PGE’s energy plan

Sierra Club volunteers at EPA rally

Sierra Club volunteers at EPA rally

Yesterday, Robin Everett, our Beyond Coal Campaign Organizer, was quoted in a Portland Tribune article on PGE’s future energy mix. “It’s time to phase out Boardman and increase the use of renewable energy and efficiency to meet future demand,” says Robin Everett. The article points out that Portland had plenty of energy through record breaking energy use in the heat wave without PGE’s two main coal plants and without wind powering wind turbines. Two of PGE’s coal plants, the Boardman coal plant in Oregon and the Colstrip coal plant in Montana were both down for extended maintenance. The heat also decreased wind, thus decreasing wind power. PGE provided power by buying it from other utilities in the west.

This news is especially important because PGE is in the process of planning their energy mix for the next 20 years. On July 31st, PGE proposed a plan that would increase their reliance on fossil fuels. They presented scenarios that included buying an increased portion of the Boardman coal plant in eastern Oregon and building additional natural gas plants. PGE disregarded options to phase out of the Boardman coal plant and increase renewable energy and energy efficiency.

PGE’s proposal completely ignores the urgency of global warming and the importance of reducing pollution. PGE has taken a huge step backward not just for rate payers but also for the State of Oregon. If they choose to increase their reliance on coal Oregon’s carbon reduction goals will not be met. By choosing fossil fuels instead of renewable energy, PGE is passing up the opportunity to cut their carbon emissions, please their ratepayers by building renewable energy, and save money by investing in energy efficiency.

For more information on PGE’s energy plan check out the Sierra Club blog.

As of today, 100 coal plants have been defeated or abandoned since the beginning of the coal rush, includingno-more-coal-bz-and-friends3.jpg Westward Energy’s Columbia River Clean Energy Center in Oregon, and power agreements among Oregon utilities for plants in Utah and Washington. In their place, a smart mix of clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, wind, solar and geothermal has stepped up to meet America’s energy needs. Last year 42 percent of all new power producing capacity came from wind, and for the first time the wind industry created more jobs than mining coal.

Coming just a week after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the city would end coal use by 2020, the Intermountain Power coal plant in Utah became the 100th prevented coal plant. The decision marks a significant milestone in the shift to clean energy.

For the past six years the Sierra Club and its allies have been running a hard-hitting campaign to expose the dirty truth about coal. Tremendous grassroots pressure, rising costs, and upcoming federal carbon regulations all contributed to the demise of the 100 plants.

“We’re clearly shifting toward a cleaner, healthier, more secure future, and by ending the new coal rush here in Oregon we are leading the way,” said Cesia Kearns, Sierra Club Organizer. “But to truly reap the benefits of a clean energy economy Oregon needs to start replacing our old, dirty coal power with renewable energy, and we’re looking to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council to realize that as they develop their 6th plan for the region.”

As the new coal rush ends in many states, the Sierra Club is working to replace existing dirty and unreliable coal plants, like the Boardman coal plant that are large contributors to health harming soot, smog and mercury pollution, with cleaner energy options that create more jobs. One exciting local opportunity that will impact Oregon’s energy future is a decision before the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC), which will be meeting in Portland next week. Every 5 years, the NWPCC develops and revisits a 20 year plan for how electricity is managed regionally across Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho. The Council could include a scenario phasing out coal-fired power in the development of their 6th plan, the theme of which is “Climate Change”.

“The community opposition to the Boardman coal plant here is just one part of a growing nationwide movement,” said Kearns. “It’s clear that the American people are ready for a switch to the clean energy technologies that can help repower our economy. We need decision-makers like the NWPCC to act on this desire, and build the new economy.”

Currently, the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Oregon is seeking to make Oregon America’s first renewable energy state by phasing out the Boardman Coal plant and ending all power purchase agreements with coal from other states. Oregon relies on coal for nearly 41% of its energy mix and half of that is supplied by Portland General Electric’s (PGE) Boardman Coal plant which emits 5 million tons of global warming pollution every year, along with harmful levels of soot and smog pollution, which can worsen asthma and cause other respiratory illnesses.

“The coal industry, including PGE, is working hard to keep dirty coal a part of Oregon’s energy mix. “The proverbial writing is on the wall – Americans no longer want to rely on polluting fossil fuels for their energy,” said Robin Everett, Sierra Club Organizer. “Instead of relying on antiquated, 19th century technology, PGE should shut down the Boardman Coal plant and end all imports of coal into Oregon and truly move us into a clean energy future.”

For more, visit http://www.sierraclub.org/100coalplants and http://www.oregon.sierraclub.org/coal

Posted by: robineverett | July 7, 2009

NEW Letter to the Editor by our one of our great Activists!

Oregonian Letters to the Editor

Sunday, July 5th

Belching dinosaur
In his address to the City Club of Portland, Oregon Attorney General John Kroger gave a progress report on his activities, including the enforcement of existing environmental legislation.

If Kroger is serious about going after environmental offenders, he might start with Portland General Electric. PGE’s coal-fired plant at Boardman is the largest stationary source of air and global warming pollution in Oregon, emitting 5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The Boardman plant also emits significant amounts of mercury, which deposits in water and collects in fish we eat; and smog- and soot-causing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which causes serious respiratory illnesses in humans as well as damaging plants and other wildlife with acid rain.

These emissions also cause degradation of some of Oregon’s wild and scenic places, and they produce haze pollution in the Columbia River Gorge.

The best way to clean up the plant’s emissions is to shut it down. As a ratepayer, I’d like to see my money invested in energy efficiency and renewable energy instead of pouring money into keeping this dinosaur of a plant open for several more years.

ELIZABETH B. KAPLAN
Northwest Portland

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