Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oregon tells PacifiCorp to stuff its coal fired power plants

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, PacifiCorp has abandoned plans to build three new coal-fired power plants. The utility operates in six states, with most of its power feeding Utah and Oregon.

Energy activists in Oregon have put the plan to build new facilities under a microscope. And Oregon State Representatives like Ben Canon are trying to shut down the practice of buying dirty energy from the Rocky Mountain states.

PacifiCorp whined that it's going to cost more to use natural gas (a cleaner option). But I think Oregonians are willing to pay a little more to preserve what's left of their wild ecosystems and to try to stimey global warming.

Correction: PacifiCorp operates a hydropower dam on the Klamath and this post blamed PacifiCorp's dams for the Klamath's massive 2002 adult salmon kill -- which isn't the case. Nonetheless, they're not exactly blameless. Here is a note from Klamath Wildlife Advocate Jim McCarthy:

Oregon Wild would be the last to praise PacifiCorp for their activities in the Klamath, and their dams have certainly contributed to the steep decline in salmon runs in that river and create huge water quality problems. However, there is no evidence that their dams contributed to the 2002 kill. You'll find the definitive CDFG report on the kill here.

The blame with that kill lies primarily with low flows in the Klamath River as a result of a bad federal water management plan put in place due to political meddling by Vice President Dick Cheney and other White House appointees. Cheney and his cronies suppressed the findings of their own biologists who said that the plan would harm salmon. You'll find that story here.

It is true that many consider PacifiCorp's dams responsible in large part for the juvenile salmon kills due to unnaturally large salmon parasite hot spots that break out on the Klamath in spring. Unnaturally low flows due to irrigation diversions also play a big role in these springtime parasite explosions. These juvenile kills don't get the press coverage like the adult kills do, but many observers believe these kills led to the closure of much or all of the commercial chinook salmon seasons in Oregon in 2005 and 2006.

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