From the Board Chair: Involvement key to meeting challenges, seizing opportunities

%CODE1%From the Board Chair:

Involvement key to meeting challenges,

seizing opportunities


As I read my colleagues’ columns in this Activist, I was struck by the importance of our endeavors and the challenges we face.

Everyone who works in energy knows we deal with complicated issues.  Energy is connected to everything and everybody.  The nation’s energy paradigm took form over many decades and is resistant to change.  Yet moving to a new energy future requires fundamental changes in existing relationships and ways of doing business. We will have to make – and are making – hard choices, balancing competing objectives and outcomes.

  • Give incentives to utilities to acquire energy efficiency?  This would reward them for doing something they should do anyway.
  • Carbon sequestration?  It’s unproven, impractical and too expensive.
  • Develop wind and solar power and associated transmission?  That risks adversely affecting ecosystems and industrializing rural landscapes.
  • Use more natural gas for electricity and for transportation?  All production produces fugitive methane emissions and harms air quality; and fracking can contaminate groundwater and potentially even surface water.

While I believe in giving utilities incentives for efficiency acquisition, advancing CCS (carbon capture and storage), responsibly developing renewables and exploiting the fact that natural gas is a relatively clean fossil fuel, I know there are two or more sides to these (and lots of other) issues. And, of course, going from general statements, like I just made, to specifics makes matters even dicier.

So what’s a committed energy activist to do?

At least in part the answer, as my fellow columnists suggest, is to rely on, engage with and support the NW Energy Coalition.

The Coalition is unique.  To my knowledge, no comparable organization can match its membership diversity.  That diversity, coupled with the extremely knowledgeable people that make up the Coalition Board and work in member organizations, along with a hard-working, dedicated staff, make it the ideal place to address energy matters.

Not every Coalition member agrees with every Coalition position.  In an organization with as many members as the Coalition, that would be very difficult regardless of subject matter.  When the subject is energy that’s impossible.

But unanimity isn’t the point.  The Coalition’s singular ability is leveraging its diversity and expertise to allow for an understanding of the issues and each other’s perspectives and then, and only then, moving toward common solutions.

That’s why I urge all members to be as involved in the Coalition as much as they can. We need each other to achieve the kind of energy system that I am quite sure we all want: one that is equitable, clean and sustainable; one that promotes true prosperity.

For with all the challenges we face in the Northwest, the nation and world, huge commensurate opportunities exist. For 30 years, the NW Energy Coalition has identified and helped us realize many of those opportunities.  With your help and involvement, it will continue to do so.