Trump appointees short-circuited grid modernization to help the coal industry

In 2018, Trump appointees short-circuited U.S. grid modernization to help the coal industry by suppressing the Interconnections Seam Study. The study showed that a “supergrid” capable of shipping bulk power across the U.S. would save consumers $3.6 billion every year, accelerate the growth of renewable energy, and eliminate up to 35 megatons of CO2 emissions – the single biggest contributor to climate change.

Do high-rises built from wood guarantee climate benefits?

Cross-laminated timber, or CLT, is being hailed as a more sustainable building alternative to steel and concrete, but some experts say that the issue is more complicated. Despite no solid proof that CLT will help slow climate change, building firms and plants see it as a weapon against climate change while experts worry that the health of forests, which are already suffering from warmer temperatures and more frequent wildfires, could be at risk.

Coronavirus threatens response to wildfires; firefighter camps ‘ideal’ to spread disease

Coronavirus could seriously hamper Washington’s ability to fight wildfires as agencies focus on organizing a response to the global pandemic. Despite concerns that the 2020 wildfire season could be worse than 2019’s, agencies that usually plan for fires and recruit firefighters in early spring are instead helping organize Washington’s response to COVID-19. Social-distancing concerns could mean a lower turnout of firefighters.

Legislature eyes ways to control speculators buying Washington water rights

Several upcoming bills in the Washington Legislature aim to take on the state’s convoluted water rights system, which balances two conflicting positions – that water is a public resource stewarded by the state, and that water rights are private property. While legislators want to cut out water speculators who are looking to make a profit on water, farmers, builders and environmental stewardship organizations fear that regulations could impede community water banks.

Map: Biomass Plants in British Columbia

British Columbia doesn’t maintain a centralized registry of biomass energy facilities in the province, so in the course of reporting “Smoke and Numbers,” we put together our own list from independent sources.Click any dot on the map to view the facility’s name, size and a description of its operations.

Sketchy Claims Inflate B.C.’s Wood Energy Exports

Industry advocates say B.C. could become the “Saudi Arabia of Biomass” — but that probably won’t be good for the global climate.Photo: Böhringer Friedrich/Wikimedia.Eight words in a 927-page document. That’s all it took to launch a European policy with big implications for B.C. That policy counts burning wood to produce energy as equivalent, climate-wise, to solar and wind power. This despite the fact that burning wood releases the very same greenhouse gasses as any fossil fuel; the same gasses that are turning oceans acidic and melting the polar ice caps. Here are the eight words: “The emission factor for biomass shall be zero.”Not, you will note, “are zero.” No: “shall be zero.” Behind that starkly declarative pronouncement lay months of tense international negotiations over the climate-change implications of burning biomass, or any kind of plant matter: wood, agricultural wastes, or crops grown for burning. In the end, the winning argument was that biomass regrows, recapturing the carbon released when it was burned, and therefore must be OK for the climate.

Brent Sauder: ‘It’s not research, it’s a mission’

University of British Columbia’s Brent SauderPhoto: Paul Joseph Brown/ecosystemphoto.com for InvestigateWestAs director of strategic partnerships for the University of British Columbia, Brent Sauder had a major role in shaping plans for the new $34 million biomass power plant on campus, known as the Bioenergy Research and Development Facility. The industrial facility sits just across the street from bluffs overlooking Georgia Strait — some of the most expensive real estate in Canada, in other words.In an on-campus interview last year with InvestigateWest’s Robert McClure for our “Smoke and Numbers” series with The Tyee, Sauder explained UBC’s motivations and rationale for bringing the facility to campus in a partnership with General Electric and Vancouver-based Nexterra. Their conversation has been edited and condensed. Brent Sauder:                  One of the problems with BC is that we have very cheap power. The development of these kinds of technologies would tend to take place in places where there’s higher power prices. But obviously we want to have good companies grow in British Columbia so this was an opportunity for us to actually get them to develop their product here.When they first came to us saying would we be interested in being a demonstration site, in typical Canadian fashion the only thing we have is land so that’s what we actually put toward the project. We have a site.UBC is about 50,000 students. It’s one of the largest land grant universities in North America and we have our own governance system. We’re not the city of Vancouver. So part of the whole thing of this project was to get the social license to actually build a facility like this.Robert McClure: Because it’s an industrial facility in the middle of campus?