Club fights for clean air

Courtesy: Benton Smith

Boise State students had the chance to see the Idaho Sierra Club’s presentation Beyond Coal in the Student Union Building on
Nov. 13.

The Beyond Coal Campaign is Idaho Sierra Club’s response to the $130 million Idaho Power is asking ratepayers for in order to purchase an upgrade for the Jim Bridger coal plant.

The upgrade Idaho Power is seeking is a haze filter in accordance with the Clean Air Act which requires a certain air quality in all state parks.

Idaho Sierra Club’s Conservation Program Coordinator James Blakely said this is just one of many future upgrades the site will need since this is focused only on haze and fails to address other problems associated with the aging of the Jim Bridger plant.

“Coming down the road in a few years Idaho Power is going to have to start replacing the Jim Bridger coal plant, and so with these upgrades and maintenance, what they want to do is to try and extend the life of this and to further lock Idaho into coal,” Blakely said.

Instead of ratepayers’ money going to coal, the Beyond Coal Campaign calls for the money to be spent on renewable energy sources within state boundaries. This could both create more jobs and further develop Idaho’s greener options such as solar and hydroelectric energy.

Zack Waterman, chapter director of the Idaho Sierra Club, explained the goals of the campaign.

“We’re really just trying to tell the story of why coal is bad and how there is an opportunity to not continue to invest in the old coal plants,” Waterman said. “But, to invest in what the future is going to be,  Idaho Power is going to be taken there kicking and screaming, whether they like it or not.”

Idaho Power customers will have a chance to say just where it is that they would like to see their money go to when Idaho Power take’s its request before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to be voted upon on Nov. 25.

Supporters and detractors alike are encouraged to attend the meeting in order to voice their opinion.

Darrien Miles, a sophomore civil engineering major minoring in environmental studies, is one student planning to attend.

“I think that more people need to go and be educated about that type of stuff,” Miles said. “We have the statistics: 80 percent of power generated in Idaho came from hydroelectric, but half of the power consumed in Idaho still comes from out of state. It’s kind of a misdirect.”

Those looking to voice their opinion can attend the Idaho Public Utilities Commission’s hearing on Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. on 472 W. Washington St.

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