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Obama’s Conservation Message Resonates In The Northwest

June 25, 2013 | Northwest Public Radio
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Courtney Flatt

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  • President Barack Obama's climate-change speech Tuesday focused on his plan to require coal plants to reduce their carbon pollution. But the president outlined several other ways he wants the country to prepare for and reduce the effects of climate change. credit: Whitehouse.gov
President Barack Obama's climate-change speech Tuesday focused on his plan to require coal plants to reduce their carbon pollution. But the president outlined several other ways he wants the country to prepare for and reduce the effects of climate change. | credit: Whitehouse.gov | rollover image for more

President Barack Obama doesn’t just want to cut back on carbon pollution by putting strict limits on burning coal to generate electricity.

He also wants to combat climate change by reducing the need to generate electricity in the first place.

The president’s climate-change speech Tuesday focused on his plan to require coal plants to reduce their carbon pollution. But the president outlined several other ways he wants the country to prepare for and reduce the effects of climate change.

One step: increase energy efficiency. It’s an idea that’s already being embraced in the Pacific Northwest.

Obama drew a bright line in his speech connecting energy use — and conservation — to climate change.

“The energy we use in our homes, our businesses, our factories, our schools, our hospitals – that’s responsible for about one-third of our greenhouse gasses,” he said during his speech at Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown University.

Watch the speech:

The more energy we conserve –- in homes, cars, and businesses –- the more energy we don’t have to produce. That doesn’t just save on gas and utility bills. It also helps reduce carbon pollution, which contributes to climate change.

Clean-energy advocate K.C. Golden says he agrees with the president.

READ Washington’s Largest Coal User Unfazed by Obama’s Climate Plan

“Energy efficiency standards are sort of the hidden, unsung giant energy success story of the last few decades,” says Golden, who is with Climate Solutions. “It’s the energy we don’t use that does us the most good because it saves us money, environmentally it’s superior to any form of energy.”

Since 1980, the Northwest has made energy conservation a top priority. That’s when the Northwest Power and Conservation Council adopted a regional energy efficiency program.

Bill Bradbury is the council’s chairman. He says the Northwest can meet 85 percent of the region’s energy growth demands through conservation.

“It’s actually the second largest source of power. First is hydropower. That sets the Northwest apart from a lot of the rest of the country and the world,” Bradbury says.

Oregon ranks fourth Washington eighth among states when it comes to energy efficiency. That’s according to The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. It ranks Idaho 22nd among the 50 states.

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 4.48.56 PM
Click image for interactive map. Source: aceee.org

Bradbury says in 2011, conservation saved 3 billion dollars and greatly reduced carbon emissions in the Northwest. But, he says there is room to improve energy efficiency, especially in homes and businesses.

© 2013 Northwest Public Radio
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