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Washington State Will Be Coal-Free By 2025

Washington State Will Be Coal-Free By 2025

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire recently signed a bill that will systematically end the burning of coal in the state, making it one of the first coal-free states in the nation.

Currently, Oregon is the only other state to announce official plans to phase-out the destructive use of coal-fired power.

The Washington bill is the result of a hard-fought agreement between the Sierra Club, Governor Gregoire and TransAlta — the owner of the only coal-fired power plant in the state.

TransAlta agreed to phase-out its massive 1,400 megawatt Centralia plant between 2020 and 2025.

“In the great American tradition, people in the states are leading and eventually Congress will follow,” said Sierra Club Deputy Conservation Director Bruce Nilles during the signing ceremony. “It is in this tradition that we are here today to celebrate a state’s common sense solution to a global problem. By reaching an agreement to phase out the TransAlta plant over the next fourteen years in an orderly manner, Washington State is showing Washington D.C. not only that it can be done, but how it can be done.”

The agreement calls for one of the Centralia plant’s two coal-fired boilers to be retired in 2020, with the second boiler scheduled to be retired by 2025. Both boilers will install pollution controls in 2013 that will reduce the amount of health-threatening nitrogen oxide pollution from the plant.

“This agreement reflects a reasonable and thoughtful approach to a complex situation,” said Doug Howell, Washington Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “Retiring this plant will protect the families and national parks that have for four decades been choking on this plant’s pollution. The orderly retirement will also ensure that the Centralia community will be protected during the transition away from coal.”

Washington State is primarily powered by hydropower, as is Oregon, which last year announced a plan to phase out its last coal-fired power plant by 2020.

Take Action: Sign the petition to let Congress know that you want action on climate issues!

Related Reading:

Don’t Drink the Water: Coal Industry Creates Third-World Conditions in United States Today

Interior to Lease More Wyoming Coal; Michigan’s Unfinished Oil Spill Clean-Up

Activists Dump Mountain Of Coal Waste On EPA’s Front Lawn

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Image Credit: Flickr CC - linh.m.do

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76 comments

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11:28PM PDT on May 16, 2011

Thank you Beth for your article.
Actually I'm wondering what kind of energy will replace coal power? Maybe I read your article too fast...

11:57AM PDT on May 13, 2011

Wow! Real progress, how refreshing!

11:24PM PDT on May 10, 2011

Here's another link, and it's very current...website posted just a few days ago........



Nobody would suggest that wind turbine power will ever replace all other sources, and if you read the articles in the links, the goal is 15% by 2025. Why NOT take advantage of the wind, which blows all the time ANYWAY? The turbine farms are put where they do the least amount of "environmental" damage or "interference". The ones I've referred to are in the foothills of the Cascades where the land isn't suitbable for much else, anyway. It's barren, too HILLY and infertile to use for pastureland or growing crops, and nobody lives near there. The noise is far less than what I'd been led to believe. Driving by on I-90, you couldn't hear a thing, even with the windows of the vehicle DOWN. Once the turbines have been paid for, the only "cost" is to the lease of the land to the land owners, and it ain't worth "much" over there. Hydro-electric is also clean and sustainable. Yes, there ARE disadvantages, such as having to put dams across the river and then address salmon runs, but sure beats COAL! I can't imagine the mentality of the 4% that voted "No" in the poll.......they must work for a coal company.

10:54PM PDT on May 10, 2011

Panthera, have you ever been in or around Thorp (Washington), or Ryegrass? The winds in Thorp and Ryegrass (on the west side of the Columbia River, just before you go thru Vantage) have the highest winds in the state, and they don't come close to 200 mph! I've been in Thorp dozens of times, and a close friend lives in Ellensburg. The blades do NOT turn at those speeds, EVER. The winds thru there sometimes can get to 50-60 mph, but not sustained winds. This is NOT tropical Florida, nor is ice a big problem most of the time (ain't Antarctica,either). Yes, it gets very cold in Eastern Washington, and that's why they grow such great alfalfa hay......rich soil and high winds, even in the summer to dry freshly cut hay out in a couple of days, but even where my friend lives (in the mountains) or where my daughter lives (7 miles south of the Canadian border), it doesn't get THAT cold, nor windy.

When I went past there last month, it was QUITE windy out, and the turbine blades were turning slow enough that I could follow each blade individually with my eyes....if they were turning as fast as a kid's toy windmill, that wouldn't have been possible.

I'm sure there are videos online that show them moving.

7:11AM PDT on May 10, 2011

The problem with wind turbines is that they are not reliable in the winter. When ice starts to build up on the blades, the turbine has to automatically shut down. Keep in mind that the tips of those blades are spinning at nearly 200 miles per hour. When ice starts to form on the blades, they basically become lethal catapults that can hurl ice chunks at 200 miles per hour. Needless to say, that could be deadly if it were to hit a person, car, or animal. Because of that, the turbines shut down as soon they detect ice forming on the blades.

3:35AM PDT on May 10, 2011

VICTORY

11:13PM PDT on May 9, 2011

Here's another link, and as I said previously, this is only one of many such wind-farms, and the smallest along I-90. The one along there in Ryegrass stretches for miles and miles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Horse_Wind_Farm

10:54PM PDT on May 9, 2011

Here's a link to a photo of only one of the wind-turbine "farms". Google "wind turbine farms in Washington State" and you will get a dozen or more "hits". This is one of the smaller ones..........

http://www.flickr.com/photos/locked4low/5409903268/

10:44PM PDT on May 9, 2011

Zee, the plant is not running at full capacity now. It's running at about 50% and the goal is to phase it out gradually. IF they had gone for the throat to shut it down completely, it was likely that it wouldn't have passed thru legislation. The Governor has been fighting for this for a long time, so while not immediate, it IS a success.

Scott, where are you getting your "info" from about shutting down electricity? You are very mis-informed. I've lived in Washington State my entire life (Puget Sound), and trust me, we have enough electricity! My local utility gets about 75% from hydro-electric power. No utility is 100% hydr-electric, and I just drove between my home and Eastern Washington and back last month (on April 26th). There are three LARGE "wind farms" along I-90, specifically in-between CleElum and Ellensburg, just west of George, and two more that are almost ONE that extends for miles along what is known as Ryegrass. They consist of dozens of huge turbines driven by 30' wide arms on 3-armed "windwheels". ALL were operational! The story was put out that they were going to be temporariy turned off because of the excess water going thru the Grand Coulee and over-loading the grids. On 4/26, they were all going strong!

10:25PM PDT on May 9, 2011

Can we hurry it up a little bit?

Think we'll still be breathing by that time?

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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