Portland General Electric (PGE) announced on Thursday, January 14, that Oregon's only coal plant will close by 2020. The Boardman coal plant, which burns 300 tons of coal per hour and releases carcinogenic chemicals into Oregon's air, has been the target of a Sierra Club anti-coal campaign, as well as a thorn in Mayor Sam Adams' side. "Seventy percent of Portland's energy comes from non-renewable fossil fuels," said Adams, welcoming the announcement. "This is a huge positive step forward." The Sierra Club says it will continue pushing to shut the plant down sooner, preferably by 2014. PGE has not yet firmed up a transition plan for what fuels it will use to fill the gap left by Boardman, or how the shutdown will affect customers' utility bills. SARAH MIRK
Four major local leaders sent a letter to the Washington and Oregon state governors on Tuesday, January 19, demanding a new plan for the controversial Columbia River Crossing project. Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart, and Metro Council President David Bragdon told the governors in no uncertain terms that the environmental, physical, and financial footprint of the proposed $3.6 billion bridge will have "unacceptable impacts" on local communities. The politicos want the state to draw up a more realistic strategy for funding the bridge that does not "cannibalize" other important local transportation projects. The letter comes just before an important meeting of the Project Sponsors Council on Friday, January 22. The last meeting in December drew over 100 protesters. SM.