Top Northwest Sustainability Headlines

March 27, 2015

1. Analysts: Coal sector in structural decline

The U.S. coal sector is in a “structural decline” that has sent 26 companies bust in the last three years, according to financial analysts. A report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative found that in the past five years the U.S. coal industry lost 76 percent of its value.

The Guardian | Coal

2. The oil spill that could happen here

A reminder of just how often—and just how serious—oil pipeline spills are.

Sightline | Fossil fuels

3. Microsoft tells vendors to give benefits

For the first time, Microsoft will mandate a basic level of benefits for the tens of thousands of contract workers employed on the software giant’s behalf.

The Seattle Times | Income Inequality

4. Does Seattle’s $15 wage law apply to UW?

Seattle’s minimum-wage law kicks in April 1, but the largest employer within the city — the University of Washington — isn’t bumping up pay for its lowest-paid workers then, and it’s unclear whether it will have to follow the new law.

The Seattle Times | Minimum wage

5. Ridley’s coal export collapse continues

Take a look: coal exports through the Ridley terminal in northern British Columbia are in freefall.

Sightline | Coal exports

6. Antarctic ice shelves melting 70% faster

The frozen fringes of western Antarctica have been melting 70 percent faster in the last decade, raising concern that an important buttress keeping land-based ice sheets from flowing to the sea could collapse or vanish in coming decades, a new study shows.

Los Angeles Times | Climate Change

7. Hungry sea lions pile into Columbia River

California sea lions are literally piling into Astoria’s East Mooring Basin. They’ve taken over every square foot of the boat docks, and they’re even lying on top of each other for lack of space. The latest sea lion count in the marina tallied a record 2,340 – a “mind-boggling number,” according to Brian Wright of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Meanwhile California is seeing starving sea lion pups washing up on shore.

Oregon Public Broadcasting | Fish and wildlife

8. Views: The key to this 20-something’s vote

I am a voter — a white, male, college-educated twentysomething voter, born in the conservative South, living in the liberal North. I was raised in a middle-class family but now occupy an economic class more concerned with finding jobs than itemizing tax deductions. My vote is up for grabs. Heading into 2016, it will be coveted, along with those of my fellow twentysomethings. For any candidate looking to “inspire the youth vote,” here is the key to mine. Our planet is dying. It is hemorrhaging, suffocating and it is going to flatline. Soon. This is the issue. The only issue.

Los Angeles Times | Climate Change

9. Vancouver to shift to 100% renewable energy by 2050

The Vancouver, BC, city council made history by voting to support a shift to 100 percent renewable energy sources, becoming the first city in Canada to take this step. In the motion, which passed unanimously, councillors directed staff to work on a package of policies that would effectively convert the entire city to run on clean and renewable energy.

Vancouver Observer | Green Energy

10. Turning out the lights for Earth

Earth Hour 2015 will happen at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, when landmarks, hotels, universities, buildings and individuals shut off their lights to raise awareness of climate change. It’s an hour — based on local time wherever you are — meant to be a call to action too.

Los Angeles Times | Climate Change

More News from March 27, 2015

Oil council: Shale won’t last, drill in the Arctic

The U.S. should immediately begin a push to exploit its enormous trove of oil in the Arctic waters off of Alaska, or risk a renewed reliance on imported oil in the future, an Energy Department advisory council says in a study to be released Friday. The U.S. has drastically cut imports and transformed itself into the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas by tapping huge reserves in shale rock formations. But the government predicts that the shale boom won’t last much beyond the next decade.

The Associated Press | Fossil fuels

Oil terminal foes set public forum

Opponents of a plan to build the nation’s largest rail-to-marine oil transfer terminal at the Port of Vancouver are inviting the public to a forum aimed at detailing what they see as the project’s threats to public safety and spelling out how people can help defeat it.

Vancouver Columbian | Oil

The West Coast is in hot water

Move over polar bears. Are starving sea lion pups the new face of climate change?

Climate Central | Climate Change

Views: Seattle can lead in fossil-fuel divestment

In 2013, Seattle gained a stellar reputation among climate-change advocates for its bold decision to become the first city to divest its cash pool from fossil fuels. Since then, advocates have built a campaign to make the Seattle City Employees’ Retirement System the first pension fund in the country to divest some portion of the 5 percent of the pension portfolio made up of Carbon Underground 200 companies. Regrettably, that victory has not yet come.

The Seattle Times | Fossil fuels