A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Freezing rain and greenhouse gases

Written February 12th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

While we’re having an ice storm in the Albany area and much of western Oregon, this might be a good time to think about what the state government has in mind for us in terms of our ability to get around, or to keep warm if we stay home.

Almost a year ago, on March 10, 2020, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-04. This order tells state agencies to do whatever they can under existing law to make sure that Oregon reduces its output of greenhouse gases. The goals are to reduce emissions at least 45 percent below the level of 1990 by 2035, and at least 80 percent below 1990 by 2050.

The Department of Environmental Quality was ordered, among other things, to devise a program to “cap and reduce” greenhouse gas emissions from sources including transportation and heating fuel.

For months the DEQ has been beavering away to get going on what they call “rulemaking.” They hope to have the rules drafted and out for public comment by the end of June.

What the rules will say is hard to predict. But given the severity of the goals, you’d think they eventually would have to result in the elimination of fossil fuels for transportation and heating your home.

Which sounds kind of unsettling right now, when it’s freezing outside and the natural-gas furnace in your house runs pretty much all the time.

We’re supposed to count on electrification to make life possible without burning motor fuel or natural gas. Somehow all this added electricity is supposed to come from windmills and solar farms east of the Cascades, or maybe ocean waves off the coast.

Maybe that will work. It is nice to think so. Maybe over the next generation or so, the 4 million motor vehicles in Oregon will all be replaced by battery-driven rigs. Every house will have an electric heat pump. And maybe there’s a way to generate all the juice this conversion will require.

Or maybe it will turn out otherwise. But by then our governor and other officials pursuing these policies will be long gone from public life, perhaps retired in a pleasant clime where they can’t be held to answer for the goals they set. (hh)

33 responses to “Freezing rain and greenhouse gases”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    There will probably be a major dilemma with all the toxic car batteries littering the landfill and other illegal disposal sites.

    If batteries aren’t toxic, try eating one.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Lead-acid gasoline-car batteries are plenty toxic and corrosive. We handle them (as far as I know) quite well by the expectation that when you buy a new one, you turn in the old one for recycling (maybe even legitimate, unlike most recycling).

      I don’t see why the various electric car batteries, even though their chemistry is more diverse than lead-acid, can’t be or aren’t handled the same way. Interesting material on lifespan but not much about recycling:

      A bigger problem with lithium batteries is when the little ones from portable gadgets are thrown away and explode and start landfill fires.

      I’d be happy to find out I’m wrong about car batteries to give me another excuse to hate all cars. ;-)

      • Albany YIMBY says:

        Car batteries are recyclable 100%. It just need to be widespread enough to become ubiquitous.

        Unless the car has been in an accident and the battery pack was damaged, everything in it is used to produce other batteries. Scientists are already studying the topic: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1682-5

        • HowlingCicada says:

          Thank you. I read the whole thing — recommended only to those who know at least high-school-level chemistry, and find chemistry interesting, as I do. It would have helped if knew more than a tiny bit about the batteries themselves. It’s one of those “review” articles that quotes from many sources. I actually came away from it a little more pessimistic than before.

          Some points: It can be done. Not many batteries processed so far (2019) because there aren’t that many old batteries available. Several different ways to handle battery end-of-life (important). It won’t be as easy as we would like and may become less economical as the cobalt content is reduced in newer chemistries. Too much more to continue here.

          A couple criticisms: The major takeaways are interspersed all through the article alongside the technical details. And I never got a clear sense of HOW MUCH has actually been done. Nevertheless, it’s a great read for anyone interested in lithium ion battery economics, not just chemistry.

      • James Engel says:

        H.C., as I insulted you on this forum a few days ago I will now publicly apologize. It was such a 7th grade remark. It wasn’t fitting for this blog. Sorry…..

  2. Patricia Eich says:

    I also question where this electric power will come from. There is talk of removing dams on rivers. We replaced our electric furnace and water heater with gas a few years ago. Costs less than electricity and works better. We have lived in our home 37 years and have done a lot with placing insulation and energy efficient windows to reduce our use of energy. Just wondering how it will all work out.

  3. HowlingCicada says:

    “””Sometime in 2020 the size of the global economy will surpass 127 trillion dollars. When it does, it will be twice as large as it was in 2000. The economy will have doubled in size in just 20 years. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Sustained growth rates of 3.5 percent leads to a doubling every 20 years.”””

    Maybe the quote should have been for the tiny house article, but that’s ancient history now. That, and the excellent linked article, should help to explain “the severity of the goals.” It was written in 2019, so you can add a 1-2-3 year delay for the pandemic.

  4. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    You frame the issue as the “goals” of pols/bureaucrats who will be long gone.

    I suggest “mandates” is more accurate. The authoritarian itch is never relieved, regardless of who sits in the seat of power.

    Nobody in government is going to ask us to follow a regulation. People with weapons will make it happen.

    I’m as green as the average person. I’ll do what I can. But the arrogance of government is shocking on this issue.

    It starts with the conclusion that humans can somehow replace the powerful natural forces that have always driven climate changes and weather events.

    Just think of the consequences of banishing oil, natural gas and coal over the next 30 years. Throw in more “rules” that also banish hydro and nuclear.

    Now double and probably triple megawatt generation to replace the energy that has been banished.

    Do politicians and bureaucrats have the foggiest idea how exactly to make this happen?

    Do politicians and bureaucrats have the foggiest idea how many turbines, solar panels, batteries and transmission lines it will take to keep us warm, cool, moving, and eating?

    They can’t convince a lot of folks to get a vaccine. How are they going to get ALL of us to peacefully change our lives and comply with their green “rules”?

    I fear for the future of my grandchildren and great grandchildren, and not because of climate change.

    • Bob Woods says:

      I fear for your grandchildren too. Maybe someone will help them get a handle on reality. They won’t get it from you.

      • Birdieken says:

        Recently John Kerry said, if the US when to zero emissions, it would have no effect on climate change? Green energy doesn’t make fossil fuel obsolete, doesn’t lower the demand for gasoline and natural gas, and doesn’t pencil out without government intervention. Innovation will get us to the energy of the future not elaborate tax schemes that benefit the rich.

  5. Son of Jacob Jacobson says:

    The Writer employs specific wording to inflame readers, a common tactic amongst those who manipulate words to confound the unsuspecting. Unfortunately, the Writer’s word choices often misdirect the reader’s attention, steering the the casual reader toward a sinkhole of unsupported obfuscation.

    I refer specifically to the Writer’s paragraph, “But given the severity of the goals, you’d think they eventually would have to result in the elimination of fossil fuels for transportation and heating your home.

    The Writer presupposes, without offering any evidence, a cabal behind this alleged “…severity of the goals.” No proof in the Writer’s argument supports the Writer’s alleged beliefs. A wise consumer of this confusing jeremiad should apply a generous amount of salt while reading this philippic.

    In the same paragraph, the Writer – in a fact-free attempt to draw the easily duped into the vacuous argument he offers – states, “…you’d think they eventually would have to result in the elimination of fossil fuels for transportation and heating your home.”

    The Writer’s term, “You’d think,” is akin to the tortured verbal fabrication we heard during the last president’s term when the now-fired president attempted to lend credibility to his statements by beginning with the phrase, “many people are saying…”

    The Writer offers zero evidence to back-up a claim that, “…eventually would have to result in the elimination of fossil fuels for transportation and heating your home.”

    Why should this simplistic, unsupported declaration serve as a basis for judging the goals and outcomes of a particular Executive Order? I only ask the question because the Writer is a well-respected, long-serving journalist in the community, a man regarded in certain circles. Too often, amongst the inattentive, people mistake longevity for wisdom. Longevity doesn’t excuse intellectual laziness.

    And yes, I realize this column is not NEWS. This column is effectively unsupported opinion. And of course, the Writer is well within his rights to make almost any declaration he chooses. But all one need do to see what happens when reality is ignored and flames of falsehood are fanned is to examine the events of January 6, 2021.

    • Al Nyman says:

      Come on man. Have I missed the state of Oregons failure to classify hydropower as renewable. Now that’s a significant lie that I am sure you’re in favor of; does not the green new deal call for the elimination of fossil fuels which you gloss over in your comments; I passed the great new solar project in Tonahpa, NV and it is dark and apparently out of business; did I miss the state of Oregon wasting well over a billion on solar and wind energy and I could go on forever. Give us your real name so we have somebody to make fun of when we meet you in the street.

    • Exeter at Home says:

      Son of Jacob Jacobson: I agree with you. I’ve always been bothered by the mealy mouthed way he writes.

  6. Don says:

    Good questions. There is lots of things being learned proving that some of what we think is good may be wise than imagined.

  7. James Engel says:

    Ya know Howling Cicada, if you would use a real name (and those other fakers) on a public forum I might put some interest in your comments. But to sound off then hide behind a fake name…one word..”coward”. Me & Gordon put our real names out front & stand by our comments. You’re info is no more than a “blowing smoke” remedy from the late 1800’s.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      There is absolutely no obligation to show our names here, and I honestly think for your own good, that it is smarter to protect your personal identity online.

      We publish our emails here when we comment (so HH has the data) in case someone derives into speech that is not protected under the First Amendment such as the threat of physical violence.

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        Yeah, that’s why I changed my email address to stupididiot@youmail.com.

        That way Hasso is protected from defamation suits and doesn’t know who sent the “threat of physical violence.”

        Don’t be a coward, YIMBY, use your real name.

        • Albany YIMBY says:

          Sorry to disappoint you, I’m not Marty McFly and I don’t care about bullies. You should come back to 8th grade where those things are effective. Maybe you can pick it up where you left it.

          • Albany YIMBY says:

            By the way, if you think that using a fake email protects you, you don’t know what’s an IP address.

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        “We publish our emails here when we comment (so HH has the data) in case someone derives into speech that is not protected under the First Amendment such as the threat of physical violence.”

        BULL! Hasso doesn’t have to print any response he deems unfit, email addy or not.

        Continue on digging your hole.

  8. James Engel says:

    Well YIMBY, hold your breath for like 4 minute’s every hour might help stop global warming. You’re still a coward for not giving your real name. Me & Gordon have no problem…….

  9. thomas earl cordier says:

    HH I am disappointed you let Woods insult Gordon. Suggests your “rule” is rubbery and mis-applied

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Ok. Good point. I’ve had it with you guys who can’t refrain from exercising your wit to insult people. From now on anything that smacks of personal attacks on anybody will not appear here. Anyway, that’s the plan.

      • Ray Kopczynski says:

        Good luck herding cats… :-)

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        If you’re serious about creating a policy for commenters, here are two simple suggestions:

        * Comments that attack an individual directly will be deleted.

        * Anonymous comments will be deleted. I only accept comments from posters who identify themselves.

        • Hasso Hering says:

          The first sounds good. The second is not feasible. I know that yours is not a pseudonym. But if someone writes in as Joe Williamson, how do I know that’s his name?

          • HowlingCicada says:

            Worse yet, how do you know there isn’t a real Joe Williamson who the commenter is trying to impersonate?

            This may be a good place to state on the record (if an anonymous commenter can claim to be “on the record”):

            1 – I have never commented here under a different name.

            2 – The chance that any of you have ever heard of me is virtually zero. I am simply a very private person. Also, being anonymous allows me to more freely reveal personal details when appropriate. In case anyone is curious, I am white, male, age 75, no college degree, never married, no children, no car, and get no more than 1 or 2 phone calls per month (spam included).

            3 – Hasso knows (or should know) that the email address I have always used is valid.

            One more thing: I greatly appreciate the work Hasso is doing here and I enjoy commenting here perhaps all the more for being in the minority. I hope the person who complained about one insult reads ALL the comments on this page. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that the sense of “unwelcome” on this page isn’t politically neutral.

          • Albany YIMBY says:

            Hasso, given that the comment section is going a little bit crazy, I would recommend you opening a subreddit to comment on your articles and close comments here, or to implement a more robust comment system for websites that would allow for user registration, flagging and moderation.

          • Hasso Hering says:

            Thanks for the suggestion. Closing he comments on this sounds like an excellent idea.

      • Sharon Konopa says:

        I appreciate you, Hasso! You have provided our community with years of news happenings and free of charge. Thank you!

  10. Scott Bruslind says:

    @Al Nyman is on the right track when he mentions renewable projects going dark. Out here in Lacomb we’re negotiating with Pacific Power to trim our small scale hydro-output by 17%.
    Crazy that we’re going in the wrong direction, but here’s a chart that shows the trend https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/data/browser/#?v=19
    So, the current projections for electrical energy consumption are quite the opposite to the aspirations of those who would reduce/replace fossil fuels with electricity/electrical-storage.
    I think (hope) it’s like a tsunami, where we’re seeing the tide go out, only to come back in a very big way. This region is particularly favored if we decide to skew our economy away from fossil fuels and toward a more sustainable mix of hydro, biomass, wind, solar, nuclear (did I say nuclear?)
    What’s a good step for Linn County? Join with the mid-Columbia counties in the Community Renewable Energy Association and coordinate local energy production.


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