With nearly triple the usual number of wildfires this year, Washington and Oregon are set to have the worst summer fire forecasts in the nation. And it’s not the only one. As a result of COVID-19, volunteer firefighting numbers are down and those who did sign up face increased vulnerability to the virus. The pandemic has curtailed preventative measures, leading agencies across the country to plan for fast, low-headcount efforts to fight fires.
InvestigateWest is seeking out survivors of wildfires who are willing to take a 15-minute survey on how they are faring now. The survey asks: Are you still trying to rebuild your life after a natural disaster? How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your efforts?
Washington legislators are moving to reshape the state’s electricity grid in a dramatic way that favors renewable energy over the next three decades, and environmentalists are rejoicing that climate change is finally a top legislative priority. But is reducing Washingtonians’ contributions to global warming achievable without boosting power rates too high at privately owned utilities? Those are the utilities that rely the most on natural gas and other fossil fuels, and they help meet energy needs at about half of Washington households. Private utilities and Republican lawmakers are predicting cost increases or even “brownouts,” and urging a go-slow approach.
| With Crosscut
With just over a week before the Washington Legislature adjourns for the year, the question recurs: Will legislators make Washington the first state in the nation to tax greenhouse-gas emissions to fight climate change? Lurking in the background as state legislators debate a carbon tax is the threat of a citizens’ initiative on the November 2018 ballot to tax carbon emissions. In Olympia, legislation has passed three Senate committees, the latest on Wednesday. That alone is historic, said to be the first time that a carbon fee was approved by any panel of state politicians.
| With weather.com
“An epidemic of trees” has resulted from a misguided century-long policy of extinguishing wildfires in the West. Now more people are moving into the woods, even as “megafires” explode. It doesn’t have to be this way, a veteran scientist says, even as climate changes makes forests hotter and drier.
| With Crosscut
OLYMPIA – Could 2017 be the year Washington emerges as the first state to tax emissions of a greenhouse gas? Barring some unusual turn of events as legislators finalize the state budget here, don’t count on it. But that assessment comes with an asterisk. There are signs that business opposition to the idea is softening. Meanwhile, environmentalists and their allies have made it clear that if the Legislature doesn’t act this spring, they’ll bring to issue to voters next year.