Kylie Halloran is a summer intern with the Oregon Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. Check out her testimony to the Public Utilities Commission last week!
“My name is Kylie Halloran, and I am presenting to you petitions from 34 businesses that support closing down Boardman as soon as possible and investing in renewable energy. Many of these businesses are voting with their dollars by purchasing renewable energy from PGE, yet despite these business’ investments, they are still being polluted by a toxic coal plant. These business owners understand economics and know that continuing to operate Boardman is an unwise choice for our economy.
Impending carbon pricing will make Boardman much more expensive, and coal is facing increasingly likely regulations regarding carbon, waste and mining, yet PGE has not considered the potential costs of complying with new or revised air emissions requirements and the proper disposal and management of coal combustion wastes. The cost of coal has almost doubled in the past year and is expected to continue rising, yet PGE does not account for this in their IRP. These increased costs are already being passed on to ratepayers. Furthermore, coal is very expensive when you take into account the costs that we endure to our environment and health. While the cost of coal continues to rise, the cost of renewable energy is declining, and investing in clean energy and efficiency can help lower our energy bills and create an economic boost.
If we don’t start investing in renewable energy now, climate change will have profound effects on Oregon’s economy, specifically on our tourism and agriculture. Also, although we know it is a challenging and sensitive matter that phasing out Boardman will cost about 110 workers their jobs. On the other hand, the renewable energy sector is creating many new jobs. While younger generations won’t be able to count on a job at Boardman when they are grown, they can count on the new clean energy economy, but only if we invest in it. For example, Solar World in Hillsboro just hired 350 new workers—easily a few times over the amount of jobs that will be lost by transitioning Boardman.
I would like to read some of Tom Dwyer, owner of Tom Dwyer Automotive’s letter he has written to the PUC. Tom states that, “PGE says that upgrading Boardman would require a switch to natural gas, or would create a spike in power rates. These protestations have less impact when we see how PGE spends its current money, for example on last year’s $4.5 million severance package to their departing CEO.” Later he states that “we, as Oregonians, Americans, and most basically as humans, want to live in a clean and healthy world. I don’t want to see the air I breathe or chew the water I drink. I don’t think you want this either, but if we are to avoid this fate we must TAKE ACTION, not soon but NOW. Even PGE sees that the future is dark for the Boardman plant. It’s a creaking, filthy, polluting relic; an embarrassing and dangerous reminder of an era that Oregon is helping to close. Please, don’t let PGE drag this out for another 30 years. I encourage you to reject PGE’s energy plan, and to put Boardman out of its misery NOW.”
As a young student and activist with a father who is a business owner, I understand that the economy and environment are greatly intertwined and that the economy cannot thrive without a healthy environment, and neither can humans. I don’t want to pay $400 million in pollution controls and be robbed of my future just because we couldn’t plan ahead and develop an economically and environmentally sustainable lifestyle in time. Closing down Boardman is a huge step towards the sustainable future my generation is working towards, depends on, and deserves.”