100% Renewable Kootenays: is it possible?

Rossland Telegraph
By Rossland Telegraph
May 30th, 2018

People gathered at Gold Rush Bookstore Tuesday evening to talk about growing grassroots support for replacing fossil-fueled energy with renewable energy throughout the Kootenays.

It’s worth noting that much of our energy locally is renewable hydro power; that’s what attracted the smelter to Trail, now owned by Teck, which employs so many local people and gives so much to our local communities. Teck has its fingers in other pies as well: coal mines, copper and zinc mining, and energy production – not only in BC, but also Alberta, Chile, and Peru; add to that exploration for resources worldwide. Teck is now applying for permission to develop a tar sands property in Alberta; the “Frontier” project.

For residents of the Kootenays, though, we need to consider the other forms of energy we use here: energy for heating our homes and water tanks, fueling vehicles for transportation – not only of our bodies, but also of the goods we import to our region, such as groceries . . . and nearly everything else we buy. And the energy that goes into the production of the goods we buy.

Why renewable energy instead of fossil fuels?  Several reasons, the most compelling one being the acceleration of climate change by continually adding to the greenhouse gases in our planet’s atmosphere, mainly carbon dioxide and methane, from the extraction, transportation and burning of those fuels.

Another reason is that most of the easy sources of fossil fuels have been exploited already and are becoming scarce; that’s why we have the highly energy-intensive extraction of oil from the tar sands, and the use of the disruptive technique called fracking to access fossil fuels locked in shale rock. Fracking uses a great deal of water and energy, and an unknown blend of chemicals,  is known to cause earthquakes in some areas and to leak large amounts of methane, and is suspected of contaminating aquifers.

The West Kootenay EcoSociety arranged Tuesday’s gathering at the Gold Rush. Sarah Colvin and Maya Provencal introduced their campaign to get more people on-board with “100% Renewable Kootenays.”  The goal is to get citizens and their local governments to commit to relying only on renewable energy by 2050.

2050? It seems so far away now, doesn’t it?  (Yawn) . . . Perhaps there’s no rush . . . but on the other hand, how long is it likely to take to phase out fossil fuels completely? Suddenly 2050 doesn’t seem so far off after all. Almost upon us, in fact. And besides, the sooner the better.

The EcoSociety provided petition forms, directed at local governments, for people to sign to show their support for switching to renewable energy. It doesn’t mean a person is already totally off the fossil fuel habit, just that they would like us all to be. And that they would like their local government to demonstrate some leadership in weaning communities off fossil fuels, and showing support for developing renewable energy sources.

People who want to ask questions or sign a petition can find an EcoSociety rep at the Mountain Market on Thursday afternoon. Ask away!

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