Hydro, Wind, and Solar Aren’t Our Only Alternative Sources of Energy
~ Lon Dickerson, Sacred Earth Matters
Some of us are old enough to remember hearing our fathers put more coal on the fire in the furnace in the morning so the house would warm up. Or, we can still see the coal dust on clothes drying on the clothes line or the silhouette of our father’s tie on his shirt when he came home from work.
It was much cleaner when we transitioned to oil and natural gas.
Unfortunately, forest fires are the new norm in the Pacific Northwest. Millions of people around the world have to wear face masks. It’s imperative that we transition even faster to renewable energy and electric vehicles.
The good news is that our state legislature mandated this spring that electric utilities stop burning coal by 2025 and greenhouse gas by 2030. But 43% of Washington’s carbon emissions come from motor vehicles, and the legislature failed to pass a clean fuels bill.
How do we get politicians and other people to make dealing with the climate emergency as important as getting a “man” on the moon 50 years ago?
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming is a fascinating book that discusses a plethora of ways to slow the atmospheric and marine accumulation of greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels.
Some important strides can be seen locally.
King County and Puget Sound Energy, for instance, are using methane produced by garbage buried at the county landfill in Maple Valley to generate electricity.
The Port of Seattle issued an RFP earlier this year to replace Sea-Tac Airport’s boilers and bus fueling system and switch from fossil to renewable natural gas. RNG or biomethane is produced by the decomposition of organic matter produced by landfills, wastewater treatment plants, and food and animal waste digesters. The port hopes to award a contract in late 2019 and make Sea-Tac the nation’s first airport heated entirely by renewable natural gas.
The port also intends to power every flight fueled at Sea-Tac with at least a 10% blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2028. Blended biofuels are virtually identical to the Jet A-1 fuel currently in use and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50-80% compared to fossil fuel. SAF is made from renewable sources such as used cooking oil, animal tallow, wood waste, algae, oilseeds, and municipal solid waste
Biodiesel is another transportation biofuel. Any truck, bus, or tractor that currently uses fossil diesel fuel can use biodiesel instead. It’s made from vegetable oils, grease, and animal fats. The Grays Harbor Biodiesel Plant in Hoquiam is the largest biodiesel production facility in the United States. The majority of its oil comes from canola and soybean oil grown in Washington and Canada.
We have a long, long way to go if we want our grandchildren to be able to inherit our planet. But inch-by-inch, our 50-year goal must be to help heal the damage we’ve inflicted on it and make our sacred earth more sustainable again.