As the polar vortex descends upon the Midwest, it is important to distinguish between the weather we see out the window and the climate we rely upon over the long term. Carbon pollution from fossil fuels is warming our globe, which is causing our climate to change. This change means the weather we recall from the past will be very different in the future.
Fortunately for Idaho, Governor Little understands this. Addressing climate change recently he said, "I mean, I’m old enough that I remember feeding cows all winter long in deep snow … boy, back in the old days when I was a kid, we had winters." Beyond simply recognizing the changing reality, the Governor emphasized to the crowd that Idaho must take action. "We’ve just got to figure out how we’re going to cope with it. And we’ve got to slow it down. Now, reversing it is going to be a big darn job."
ICL welcomes this leadership and we look forward to expanding our climate work.
You Can Protect Idaho
There are many ways you can get involved and speak up for conservation in Idaho. Wildlife will be dramatically impacted by the changes to our climate. Here are two opportunities to speak up for wildlife right away:
- To cope with the impacts of climate change we advocate for wilderness designations and other land protections so wildlife and fish can move into more suitable habitats. Submit a comment to the Salmon-Challis National Forest and let them know you value natural landscapes and wildlife habitat.
- Idaho is home to the best salmon and steelhead habitat in the world. But these fish are struggling due to warming water in the lower Snake River. Tell Governor Little to stand up for Idaho’s salmon and steelhead heritage.
Replace Fossil Fuels with Clean Energy
To slow down climate change we must eliminate fossil fuels from our electricity, heating and transportation systems. Today, Idaho relies on out-of-state fossil fuels for almost half our electricity and all of our transportation fuels. That means we spend almost $4 billion annually importing dirty fuels. Instead, we can invest our energy dollars in Idaho’s clean sources. ICL directly engages with electric utilities and regulators to retire coal plants, invest in Idaho’s clean energy sources and electrify transportation.
And we are winning. As I wrote last month, in 2018 coal lost and clean energy continued to grow across the country.
This trend is continuing in 2019. Jan. 30, 2019 marks the last day for the Naughton 3 coal unit in Wyoming. Angus Thermer captures the overall trend in a single sentence, “Restrictions imposed by the Clean Air Act, state regulations, an abundant supply of natural gas, new solar and wind power sources and customer preferences set the industrial complex on its heels.” Now PacifiCorp’s energy is a little bit cleaner while customers continue to enjoy reliable, fair priced energy.
More coal plants will close in 2019. Westmoreland coal supplies the Colstrip plant in Montana paid for in part by Avista customers in Idaho. Westmoreland is bankrupt and looking to sell the mine. At the same time, they are trying to extinguish contracts with union workers in order to pay executive bonuses. And, concerning for Idahoan’s, Westmoreland is trying to make utilities like Avista pay much, much more for coal. ICL is on the case and educating state regulators and Avista customers about the ongoing risks of coal and our vast clean energy options.
In a sign of the times, Avista is also developing new partnerships and tools to help customers with energy conservation and distributed clean energy projects. We are encouraged to see this kind of innovation. This is the future of our clean energy economy.
Be a Climate Hero
We welcome Governor Little’s call to action that Idahoans must step up to address climate change. Join our climate protection team with simple actions at home and in your community.
- At home: Every light switch and thermostat gives you a chance to directly reduce carbon pollution. Turn off the lights in empty rooms. Turning the thermostat one degree reduces energy use by one percent. You have the power and collectively this makes a large impact.
- In your community: Encourage your family, friends and neighbors to do simple things at home to save energy and voice support for clean energy. Also, share your story! We’d love to hear from you about what you’ve done to save energy in your own life. Have you made energy-saving changes at home or work? Does your employer engage with energy savings programs, or is your school, neighborhood, or community doing innovative energy savings tactics? We want to hear about it! Send me an email or tag us on social media with your energy stories!