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Future Energy Needs

Although Washington State has one of the Lowest carbon footprints of any state and one of the most aggressive decarbonization plans in the world we need to be concerned that  by 2050 we will not be a net importer of energy needs.  There is a lot of Wind and Solar projects going on within the State which is good; but these are not entirely reliable during certain weather patterns.  I feel we need to have a good handle on our future energy needs to avoid being a net  energy importer or worst having electrical brown and blackouts.  Our state government needs to encourage the Fed’s to return to experimenting with advanced breeder/fusion reactors.  Conventional nuclear reactors leave too much radioactive waste that is buried in deep concrete vaults.  Advanced breeder /fusion reactors could use these wastes to generate electricity.  Concerns about nuclear weapons proliferation have been a large impediment to creating commercial breeder reactors by the United States.  Another concern is the general fear created about Chernobyl, Three Mile Island; including Fukushima Daiichi.  These are the only major/minor accidents to have occurred in over 18,500 cumulative reactor years of commercial nuclear power operation in 36 countries.  These negatives, plus high costs to build, caused the U.S. government to essentially abandon nuclear energy development back in the 1970’s and let other countries do their own nuclear reactor experimentation.  It has only been recently that the U.S. has begun to shift it position on advanced breeder/fusion reactor technology.  Fast breeder technology is poised to take off.  The U.S. Corporation GE Hitachi is promoting a reactor design called the  PRISM (Power Reactor Small Modular) that its chief engineer, says is a safe and secure way to power the world using yesterdays nuclear waste.  Virtually, everything gets used up.  Advanced breeder reactors can use the uranium waste from uranium processing plants and fuel from traditional fission reactors along with depleted uranium from nuclear weapons. Even better is the first ever nuclear fusion plant that the UK is scheduled to build at the West Burton site in Nottinghamshire by 2040.

Let’s encourage our government to get onboard and begin construction of advanced breeder/fusion reactors that are a win-win for our energy supply and our fragile environment.  To meet future 2030-2050 energy demands, the governor of Washington State needs to lean on its Congressional Representatives/Senators and talk to other nuclear/fusion reactor builders to consider constructing some here.  Please note; I am not against the use of hydrogen but its technical progress in preventing the use of fossil fuels or excessive electricity and large quantities of water to create hydrogen power is not as far down the road as nuclear/fusion power is. 

The Governor's Energy Budget

Looking at our governors 2022-2023 budget and supplemental budget, it is apparent that our State’s future energy needs could result in a crisis by being a ‘net electric importer’ by 2030-2050.  “ Attempts to decarbonize our State by getting rid of coal, oil and gas in generating electricity is the low hanging fruit”.  This is good intentions and right.  But just getting rid of them and relying on electricity generated by ramping up the wind and solar projects, as the States Department of Commerce Energy Strategy intends with backup by the dams without a realistic plan/option for future energy needs “can do more harm than good.”  Wind and solar power is not predictable nor reliable.  It is a given that there is a serious push to decommission the four dams on the lower Snake River.  This pressure is going to intensify because fish runs mean a lot economically to people, small cities, towns and communities in the States of Idaho, Oregon and Washington; including pressure from Sportsman,Tribal and Commercial Fishermen. 

 I am skeptical of this wind/solar future reliance with electrical backup by the dams.  Some wind power and solar heavyweights are beginning to reel from high raw material or logistic costs, changes in clean-power subsidies and supply chain transportation problems.  We need to ensure our future energy needs do not create any brown or black outs to us.

The Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA) in 2019 requires that all utilities eliminate coal by 2025 and provide carbon neutral electricity by 2030.  I support this, but the best win-win situation to avoid future electric import costs is to begin building small advanced nuclear/fusion breeder reactors and transition them in as the dams are decommissioned.  Grant County PUD has already declared they will have a breeder nuclear reactor by 2028.  Our energy needs for the future is met; financial income to communities along the three states remain, while also addressing climate change and improving the Northwest’s iconic symbol, our salmon and steelhead. 

Sustainable Enviornmental Policies

1.   Advocate continuing independence from petroleum imports and promote ‘Green’ energy exports; domestically and internationally.

2.  Support Federal and private investment  NOW into safe advanced ‘breeder/fusion type nuclear reactors that have little or none nuclear waste emissions.  Continue research and development of using hydrogen energy to eliminate the process of using fossil fuel/excessive amounts of water to create hydrogen energy.

3. Reduce subsidies to energy infrastructures that is not sustainable to the future.  Instead take these funds and transfer them to energy sources that are sustainable well into the future.

4.  The debate over climate change and environmental protection should take place without external pressure so scientist can be free to present their facts without fear of retribution.

5.  As earth’s resources become more scarce, we must soon consider to establish incremental national policies that will move us from a ‘growth economy’ to a ‘sustainable economy’. 

 The climate issue is REAL!  We need to cooperatively work politically to eliminate its growing impact. The ‘sixth extinction’ of the planet is just around the corner if we don’t begin to deal with it NOW! 

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