Oregon: Coal Free

September 5, 2016

        In early March 2016, the state of Oregon passed a law that will make the use of coal for the production of energy extinct by 2035. This means that, eventually, none of the state utility companies will be allowed to produce any energy made from  coal. This northwestern state has the aim of becoming a more environmentally friendly place that fosters a more sustainable life. Currently, energy from coal is responsible for  an estimated 30% of the state’s energy and is a necessary supplier but the people have spoken. They have shown their interest in changing the current circumstances in an effort to save the planet.

From an economical standpoint, Pacific Power, one of the largest utility companies in Oregon, said the shift would only raise costs by less than 1% a year until 2030 and would reduce carbon pollution by 30m metric tons. Therefore the raise in prices won’t be a major issue and the citizens might  be eager to sponsor this important change in the production of energy and lowering in prices.

Apart from the abolition of coal mines, the state also plans to expand the use of renewable energy and aims to only use non-harmful sources of energy by 2050. Adding those new renewables to Oregon’s existing hydropower resources, in less than 25 years, the state’s electric sector will be between 70 and 90 percent carbon-free.

“Knowing how important it is to Oregonians to act on climate change, a wide range of stakeholders came to the table around Oregonians’ investments in coal and renewable energy,” said Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown. “Working together, they found a path to best equip our state with the energy resource mix of the future. Now, Oregon will be less reliant on fossil fuels and shift our focus to clean energy. I’m proud to sign a bill that moves Oregon forward, together with the shared values of current and future generations.”

The governing body of the state should be an example to be followed by other American states and the rest of the world. With the approval of the bill, Oregon will join a select few states that are making significant efforts to use renewable energy production. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oregon is matched only by Hawaii, with a 100 percent requirement by 2045, Vermont with a 75 percent target by 2032, and California and New York with 50 percent goals by 2030.

Moving in the opposite direction, Texas, Indiana, Illinois to name a few, are still reliant on the energy produced by coal and continue to harm the environment.

When coal is burned there is a release of carbon dioxide which contributes to the greenhouse effect and the consequential rising temperatures. Acid rain is also a byproduct of harmful gases being released by factories, including coal, into the atmosphere. Aside from climate heating, the use of coal will promote the use of strip mining that devastates entire ecosystems because of the cutting down of trees. The extraction and burning of coal also produces large amounts of liquid waste that can contain heavy metals that are extremely toxic to the ecosystems.  

If there are less harmful sources of energy that include solar, hydroelectric and wind power, why should we continue using coal and other fossil fuels that everyone knows is hindering the environment? This is the question governors and world leaders should be asking.