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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.
News / Opinion / Editorials

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Nuclear power, bad landlords

The Columbian
Published: January 1, 2024, 6:03am

Cheers: To 20 more years of electrical energy from the Columbia Generating Station. The Pacific Northwest’s only commercial nuclear plant recently began operating under the terms of a 20-year license renewal. For 40 years the plant, the only component of the epic Washington Public Power Supply System debacle to be completed, has been generating enough electricity to power Seattle. Located just north of Richland, it employs about 800 people.

Although nuclear power deservedly took its lumps in the 20th century after some well-publicized failures and consequences, modern eyes see nuclear power as a carbon-free source of power that does not depend on wind or water.

Jeers: To predatory landlords of mobile home parks. Until a few years ago, these parks, where residents own their homes but lease the land underneath them, provided a comfortable, affordable option to those with limited means, particularly retirees. Over the last few years many parks in Washington have been bought by investors or investor groups and the rent has been increased at a rate substantially more than inflation. As a result, some financially strapped residents face “economic eviction.”

The 2023 Legislature passed a couple of bills providing limited protection for tenants, and more are likely to be on the agenda of this year’s short legislative session, which begins this month.

Cheers: To Bradshaw’s desert parsley. The endangered herb is one of five plants species found in the Lacamas Prairie Natural Area in Clark County. In 2023, the state Department of Natural Resources made two land transactions that will buffer the surrounding area from commercial development, thus improving the habitat for the rare plants.

Jeers: To the University of Washington’s police force. The Seattle Times reported a King County jury recently awarded $16 million to five Black police officers after finding they were subjected to years of racist comments and discrimination by white supervisors and co-workers. In just one example, a Black officer found that someone had placed a banana and a racist note by her locker.

The university says it has instituted new police leadership, but also that is disappointed in the verdict and may appeal. Perhaps the time and effort would be better spent on creating a culture where all people are respected and recognized.

Cheers: To Sadie. The 3-year-old Labrador mix gave birth to 11 puppies around Thanksgiving, but had lost her home. A local family found her rooting through trash and turned her and her brood over to the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. There, volunteer Maria Champoux of Battle Ground took the whole dozen into her home, nursed them to good health, and will keep them until they all are ready to be adopted. Sadie’s saga is a good reminder you can find a loving pet at southwesthumane.org.

Jeers: To deadly heat. As reported by Columbia Insight, the environmental damage is still being assessed from the July 2021 heat that brought temperatures as hot as 116 degrees to the Portland area. In addition to killing hundreds of people, the heat dome scorched the foliage of native trees. The hot drought was accompanied by intense solar radiation. In some cases, researchers say it is as if trees were sunburned.

The concern, of course, is that as the planet continues to grow warmer, these heat domes will become more common and could endanger the Pacific Northwest’s forests.