Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Despite the Washington Supreme Court’s recent decision, the Whistling Ridge Energy Project remains a poorly sited and designed project that threatens the Columbia Gorge’s scenery, wildlife and communities, while promising little to no benefits for a region already oversaturated with wind energy. Fortunately, the court’s decision is not the final word in the public debate over this ill-conceived proposal.
According to the Supreme Court, several issues are yet to be resolved by state officials, including impacts to migratory birds, wildlife mitigation and review of the project’s clear-cuts and other forest practices. In the court’s words, these issues are not yet “ripe” for public review.
In addition, the Bonneville Power Administration has not made a decision whether to approve the project. Friends of the Columbia Gorge will continue to participate in the public processes on these and other unresolved issues.
Even setting aside those points, it is unclear whether the project would ever be built. Because of public concerns about impacts to scenic and cultural heritage resources, state officials decided to reduce the potential size of the project. The applicant has said the scaled-down project is not currently economically viable; this is especially true now that California has stopped purchasing new wind energy from the Northwest. And with the ongoing phasing out of government tax breaks and subsidies for wind energy, the project’s future viability is uncertain at best.
In conclusion, the future of this controversial project remains in limbo even after the court’s decision, with important decisions yet to be made by state and federal agencies, no apparent market for the relatively small amount of energy the project might produce, and the phasing out of wind energy tax breaks and subsidies.
Nathan Baker is staff attorney for Friends of the Columbia Gorge.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge