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News / Opinion / Letters to the Editor
The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Letter: All hands needed for clean energy

By Claire Richards, Ph.D., Seattle
Published: March 14, 2020, 6:00am

I agree that coal is a dying industry and that we should retrain these workers for wind and solar industries (“Enough talk – time to act with coal in decline,” The Columbian, March 10). But there is no reason that coal workers should be out of work. To transition to renewable energy at the necessary scale, we need all hands on deck. There should be more than enough money to transition coal workers to another industry justly and fairly. The United States spends trillions of dollars subsidizing the fossil fuel industry each year and President Donald Trump plans to bail out the oil industry in response to its dropping prices. We must redirect all fossil fuel corporate subsidies to solve the climate crisis.

Furthermore, natural gas is not actually cleaner or less expensive than coal. Leakage along the supply line for fracked gas ranges from 1 to 9 percent, but it must be below 3.2 percent for it to have a lower impact on the climate than coal over 20 years. The wastewater from fracked gas is radioactive but has been treated as nonhazardous by our government because it would otherwise not be economically viable. It only seems cheap because we’ve ignored costs to human beings and our environment.

We encourage readers to express their views about public issues. Letters to the editor are subject to editing for brevity and clarity. Limit letters to 200 words (100 words if endorsing or opposing a political candidate or ballot measure) and allow 30 days between submissions. Send Us a Letter