Monthly Archives: June 2014

What can the Northwest do best in clean energy?

By: Benjamin Romano
Xconomy

The Pacific Northwest has a burgeoning clean energy industry, underpinned by strong public research institutions, active angel investors, and an environmental ethos that’s part of the culture. But leaders in the field argue that the region could do more if it united behind a few key areas where it could be the best in the country.

“What do we want to be known for?” asked Jud Virden, associate director of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, during the Washington Clean Technology Alliance showcase event in Seattle Monday.

Washington and the broader Pacific Northwest already have leading positions in energy efficiency, smart grid, and biofuels development, particularly for the aviation industry. Now, the state is emerging as a key technology development and testing hub for large-scale energy storage systems, with some big steps forward on that front expected later this summer. Read more

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Columbia River salmon plan challenged

By: Staff
The Spokesman-Review

Conservation groups and fishing interests have challenged the federal government’s latest plan for making Columbia River dams safe for salmon runs.

The complaint was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland against NOAA Fisheries Service, which oversees salmon protection, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operate the dams.

Joseph Bogaard of Save Our Wild Salmon says the plan is “virtually indistinguishable” from the one overturned by a federal court three years ago. He says efforts to develop a better plan through collaboration, rather than litigation, were rebuffed. Read more

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Salmon munching sea lions at Bonneville Dam shifting to different species, new problems

By: Thomas Boyd
The Oregonian

 

New data suggest that while fewer California sea lions are showing up at Bonneville Dam and eating fewer spring salmon than just a few years ago, the number of Steller sea lions could be increasing, and along with them, the volume of salmon they eat.

 

Data also show over the last several years that sea lions — mostly Stellers — are increasingly showing up in the fall to prey on that fish run.

 

Experts say these two factors mean there’s a chance the sea lion removal program, which includes trapping and killing animals, could be expanded to new species and seasons. Read more

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Studies question budget for purchase of PPL Mont. dams

By: Marc Stergionis
Great Falls Tribune

There’s been a flood of documents washing into the Public Service Commission over NorthWestern Energy’s agreement to purchase PPL Montana’s 11 electricity-producing dams.

Some of those documents — recent consultant and agency analyses — spark big questions among consumer advocates and, although they may not short-circuit the deal, they are raising temperatures on both sides of the issue as the PSC gears up to make a decision on the purchase. Read more

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Army Corps of Engineers to kill 16,000 cormorants on East Sand Island in Columbia River Estuary

By: Rob Davis
The Oregonian

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans Thursday to shoot and kill 16,000 double-crested cormorants on an island near the Columbia River’s mouth starting next spring, in an effort to improve survival of endangered juvenile salmon and steelhead.

 The cormorants, black seabirds increasingly nesting on East Sand Island, feed on juvenile fish swimming out to the Pacific Ocean. They’ve been eating those migrating smolts in growing numbers, enough that scientists say it’s impacting the species’ survival rates.

The Army Corps, which manages hydropower dams throughout the Northwest, aims to kill about 20 percent of the cormorant population on East Sand Island each year. Read more

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Prior agreement to phase out Centralia coal plant will cover most emissions reductions

A sweeping new White House plan to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s energy supply may have less impact on Washington than almost every other state. But that’s because the country is just now catching up.

By: Craig Welch
The Seattle Times

You could argue that Washington had it easier all along, with abundant rivers that provide cheap hydropower and an economy that didn’t depend on coal.

You wouldn’t be wrong.

Back in 2000, West Virginia, with half as many people, produced four times more carbon-dioxide emissions from electricity generation as Washington — almost all of it from that state’s politically powerful, jobs-producing coal industry.

While even West Virginia burns far more natural gas than it once did, its total CO2 emissions have merely stayed the same. Washington’s emissions during the same time dropped more than 20 percent and just keep falling.

In fact, Washington has made so much progress weaning itself from coal-fired energy that our state may well meet the Obama administration’s new climate goals by doing little more than maintaining the status quo. Read more

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