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The First of Their Kind

In March 2016 Oregon became the nation's first state to completely do away with coal. Governor Kate Brown signed a bill to get rid of all coal generated energy by 2030. Now if that wasn't enough the bill also doubles the state’s standards for renewable energy. By 2040 Oregon will  now require utilities to provide half of customers' power with renewable sources. Oregon is the first to go down the path of zero coal. Will other state’s follow?

 

Let’s go over a brief history of coal. Coal has been used in the world since 4000 BC as an energy source. Fast forward to 1800’s United States and you have the fastest growing industry in coal. The production doubled or tripled every decade. Coal mining and coal power was one of the first big industries in the US. It literally powered us into and well past the industrial revolution. Up until 2003 over 50% of our power came from coal.

 

Now with that being said, there is another not so nice aspect to coal. It is dirty. It is a dirty energy source and has proven effects on our environment. It causes pollution, acid rain and produces toxic waste. The other thing that makes it “dirty” is that it is not renewable, thus why it produces so much waste.

 

The one thing that has kept it at the top for so long is that it is cheap. It has been the cheapest energy source to produce all these years. Essentially you boil it to produce steam and there you  have a power source. It is more complicated that that but you get the idea. Now, you may ask how is it the cheapest when you have to mine it, especially when sources like the sun are right here on the surface? Yes sunlight is plentiful however the means to harness that power are not cheap and not yet cost effective for  a nation wide power source.

 

Back to Oregon. The main reason behind the bill is the environment and the affects coal has on it. They are on trend with the nation in saying that renewables are the future and maybe we should start taking care of our planet more. Those are facts, however are they prepared for the financial investment for this transition? What toll will it take on their economy?

 

The biggest question from this is will other states do the same? Will they put a ban on an industry that built this country?

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