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Letter to WIP:

Turn the page on energy infrastructure

The wild fires in Washington States’ Okanogan region are horrifying and painful to witness. Similar to the mega fires that have burned uncontrollably in Australia the past few years, these fires and many other calamities around the world are merely manifestations of global climate change.

Who here in the Northwest can ever remember dry conditions like these, on either side of the Cascades? Our oceans are strained and no longer capable of absorbing heat generated by increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane. This is resulting in ever increasing drought conditions. The Pacific Northwest is fast becoming the new Central and Northern California.

The remedies we need to grasp and move on are, 1. Quit fossil fuels and 2. rethink feedlots and factory farming. The second two are going to take time to move on for cultural reasons. Growing CO2 neutral biofuels that don’t require arable farm land is a solution available today. We could phase out fossil based fuels and phase in renewable algae based biofuels within 3-5 years. It is high time to eliminate this 130 plus year fossil paradigm. Replace fossils with sustainable fuels. All that is required is the will and funding of renewables appropriately. In 2007 Exxon-Mobil spent billions on fossils while making token ‘Green” investing of a few scant million in renewables. Oil companies as we know of them today, either have to go out of business or genuinely invest billions with a B into renewables.

The technologies are here and developed. They just need proper funding and serious support. One example of many, I could offer is Algenol in Florida. Their algae technology utilizes waste CO2 from power plants to produce a blend of biofuels consisting of ethanol, gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. Their technology has already been proven to convert one ton of CO2 into 144 gallons of biofuel while simultaneously desalinating salt water the algae is grown in and converting it into fresh water. Algenol is capable of producing over 9,000 gallons of biofuels on one acre of non-arable land per year. Where would we be today if billions had been invested in technologies such as this one, ten years ago?

We need to turn the page on energy infrastructure starting here at home. Elon Musk a software engineer set out and built an electric car, the Tesla, that was by far better than anything sold by any established automobile company in the world. This was a wake up call to the car companies similar to what the Big 3 received from Japan in the 1970s. We will be seeing this same development happen to the energy industry shortly with is own soon to be billionaire innovators.

The global financial markets are roller coasting. The first Presidential election after the Supreme Courts’ ‘Citizens United’ opened the floodgates to unlimited campaign contributions is coming, and take one look at the GOP presidential circus, it is easy to clearly see none of these candidates are qualified nor motivated about combating climate problems much less acknowledging they exists. My interest has been leaning towards Senator Bernie Sanders because he appears to be listening and is concerned about our future.

Until we do something concrete towards putting the brakes on our emissions of green house gasses, we are just playing Russian Roulette with the future of our planet and her inhabitants.

Mike Pelly, Olympia


One Comment

  1. Sharon Argenbright September 17, 2015

    I use no fossil fuel to energize my home. My solar panels make more energy than I use. The extra I generate is sold back to the electric company for a very reduced rate. In the winter I heat with geothermal. I am a single woman who takes home a modest income. If I can do this why can not the big cities and small towns do it? I am paying it forward for the children of all future generations. I get what Mike Pelly is saying.

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