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Opinion >  Letters

Council to vote on practical renewable plan

Tonight Spokane City Council will vote on a commonsense ordinance to establish a citizen-led sustainability committee. This volunteer committee will develop practical plans to reduce carbon pollution and meet electricity needs with renewable energy, which includes hydropower and the waste to energy plant. Soaring investment and development in renewable energy indicate that affordable, clean energy will power the future of our nation. Spokane should seize every opportunity to be a leader in the new low-carbon economy.

At one time, solar and wind power were more expensive than coal and gas, but now the reverse is often true. The Montana Consumer Counsel reports that coal-generated electricity costs over $73 per megawatt-hour, while wind power costs less than $31 per megawatt-hour. With new pumped-hydro “battery” systems and other storage technologies, the 100 percent renewables goal is now as feasible as it is urgent. One-hundred percent renewable electricity is already being achieved by half a dozen American cities. Further, there are more than 260 jobs in the solar industry in Spokane County. Responsible and far-sighted leadership has encouraged cities around the nation to enact policies supporting the transition to renewable energy. If Spokane hopes to be a leader in the future economic development of our region, we must improve our renewable energy resources.

Meanwhile, crippling damage from storms and fires, threats to public health and safety, degradation of our natural environment, and reduced quality of life are just a few of the negative costs incurred by our dependence on fossil fuels. Regional air quality this past week attests to the impact we already face. The Department of Ecology estimated that pollution from the burning of fossil fuels caused 1,100 premature deaths in 2009 in our state alone. Ecology additionally estimated the direct and indirect costs of these diseases to be nearly $190 million per year.

Addressing the growing threat of climate disruption has broad public support. According to a Yale University study, 69 percent of people in Spokane County believe global warming is happening, and 56 percent of county residents are worried global warming will harm people in the U.S. We applaud the City Council for its leadership and pragmatism. Working together we can transition away from electricity generated by harmful fossil fuels, and toward clean, renewable electricity from the sun, wind and water.

Rebecca MacMullan and Dr. Brian G. Henning, Ph.D.

Co-Chairs of 350 Spokane, a local, nonprofit organization advocating for climate action and a just transition to a low-carbon economy

Rebecca MacMullan and Dr. Brian G. Henning, Ph.D.

Co-Chairs of 350 Spokane, a local, not-for-profit community organization advocating for climate action and a just transition to a low-carbon economy.


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