Guest Opinion: Does Fossil Gas Really Have a Future?
Growing numbers of scientists, health care workers and environmentalists are calling to stop fossil gas. Oregon's Public Utilities Commission, however, seems to be following the gas industry's playbook. Will it continue allowing the gas industry to subsidize installation of dangerous, unhealthy fossil gas infrastructure? More than ever, we need to stop using fossil gas and renewable natural gas. We're close to the point of catastrophic climate change and we need to be on an accelerated emission reduction pathway. But fossil fuel lobbyists and public relations pros are promoting fossil fuels and spinning misinformation to justify it. The PUC needs to wake up and do what's right for Oregonians. The gas industry's narrative will not provide the emission reductions we urgently need.
- Snacking on a popsicle and hanging out in the shade with a pup.
"Natural" gas is not clean. It is methane, a gas with 84 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe. Even worse, pipelines that carry it frequently leak. Gas companies are slow to fix these leaks, dramatically increasing emissions. The more gas infrastructure we build or put into homes, the more this leakage will grow. And retrofitting after the fact is significantly more expensive than simply avoiding installation from the start. An alarming Stanford study showed that gas stoves in our homes emit toxic pollution even when turned off! (Environmental Science and Technology, 2022).
The sooner we stop installing new gas infrastructure and hookups, the better. Close to 76 U.S. cities understand the risks and are advancing electrification goals that restrict the use of fossil gas. Reasons include climate, cost, health and safety. Electricity is not subject to the dangerous swings in natural gas prices experienced by many Oregon households. Millions of federal and State of Oregon dollars are now being directed toward installation of electric heat pumps for cooling and heating. The argument about lack of affordability for low-income communities is being refuted. Our PUC, in considering the rising cost of natural gas, should also consider the rising cost of climate adaptation.
The gas industry excels at scare tactics. How many times have we heard that our economy will implode if we reduce fossil fuel use? Clean energy accounts for 55% of all energy sector jobs in Oregon, 35 times more than fossil fuels (Environmental Entrepreneurs, 2020 report). Fossil fuels are dead. Disinformation from the gas industry won't change this.
We cannot count on the fossil fuel industry to do the right thing. It will continue to push "clean renewable natural gas" (a.k.a. methane) and carbon capture, which are far from proven technologies. It will ask for yet another research study, delaying the inevitable and wasting taxpayer money. I urge the PUC to act for our communities to clean up outdoor air, improve indoor air quality, lower costs and help the planet. We can do all of this by simply stopping the use of fossil gas.
—Diane Hodiak is the executive director of 350 Deschutes, a nonprofit organization doing climate action, education & policy.
An Investment for Redmond
There will be a vote in November to have a new recreation center built here in Redmond. I am an advocate for this and it is of the utmost importance that it passes. Our children need and deserve a safe place where they can learn life skills while at the same time strengthening their minds and bodies.
Recreation centers have a positive impact on our communities. It's a place where kids can go to participate in organized activities or even do homework. A quality recreation center would be an asset to our community and in these trying times we cannot afford to ignore the benefits of building one. It is long overdue.
Recreation centers provide opportunity for education; it creates an active and healthy community, it increases property value and they make great communities whole. Recreation centers help create leaders in our communities and this is what we want. Keep this in mind, It's Easier to Build STRONG CHILDREN than to repair broken men.
We spend millions of dollars on infrastructure and new equipment year after year which is necessary. Now we need to focus on investing in our children as well as their safety and welfare. It doesn't matter if you have kids or not. We are investing in the future of Redmond, Oregon. What's in it for you is a Great City with a great community. We must begin with the end in sight. This is vision, this is the future.
I am asking all of you to please invest in the future of the children by voting for a new recreation center. This is weighing heavy on my heart because this may be our last opportunity to get this passed. We must look at this as a capital investment that we should not and cannot afford to ignore. Please share this with your friends and neighbors and ask them to support this as well. November is close and we don't have much time to get the word out. We have to save all of the children because they are our future and this is how we can begin to do this.
If there is ever an investment that we need to make, this is it. I'd rather invest in a recreation center then a new jail. Thank you, Redmond.
—Clifford Evelyn, Redmond city councilor
Spotted Frogs & Sacrifice
Saving the Oregon Spotted Frog seems a worthy human endeavor and one we should all get behind. But what if saving the frog requires more than simply drying up several thousand acres of prime farmland in Jefferson County? What if the frog really needs much more river margin habitat along the Deschutes River to fully thrive and rebuild population numbers? What if some of the area needed includes parts of Sunriver and the Old Mill District? What if, in the end, the spotted frog cannot be saved because bull frog predation pressure and a warming climate trend continue to increase?
Save the Spotted Frog!
Who sacrifices the most?
Mill District? Sunriver?
Letter of the Week:
Chris—Come on by for your gift card to Palate!
A note: Several haikus and/or poems claiming to be haikus have been submitted in recent weeks, after I proclaimed that haikus always win letter of the week. If I have now unleashed a short-poetry monster into the Central Oregon community, I cannot apologize. Go forth and populate this paper with poetry!