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  • Solar, wind parts fill up dumps

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Apr 11, 2024

    While wind and solar farms generate “greenhouse gas free” electricity, there are ongoing concerns over their impacts on our environment especially as a rapidly growing number of worn-out blades and panels are landing in landfills. Those blades, housed on giant wind towers reaching over 250-feet in the sky, are starting to reach the end of their useful lives (15 to 20 years) and are being taken down, cut up and hauled to burial sites. Even though over 90 percent of the dec...

  • Honeybee populations are increasing

    Todd Myers|Updated Apr 11, 2024

    It turns out that, as we have been saying for years, honeybee populations aren’t declining, but are actually increasing. A recent article in Vox notes that the talk of honeybees disappearing was “greatly exaggerated.” Admitting that his previous stories predicting the collapse of honeybee populations hadn’t aged well, the reporter explained that a recent agricultural census found that the 31 percent increase in honeybees since 2007 is “a larger increase than any other dom...

  • Lawmakers failed on WA Cares changes

    Elizabeth Hovde|Updated Apr 3, 2024

    A state public-relations campaign is underway suggesting that because the state Legislature passed a bill allowing people to use a WA Cares Fund benefit to receive long-term care outside of the state, it’s a sure thing you’ll benefit. That’s not a sure thing. I received an email from the state about the legislation Friday. It read, “Planning to leave Washington in the future? Now you can take your WA Cares benefit with you, thanks to a new law passed last month and signed...

  • Two bad bills signed into law

    Sen. Mark Schoesler|Updated Apr 3, 2024

    Each year, for a session lasting either 105 days (in odd-numbered years) or 60 days (in even-numbered years), legislators gather in Olympia to introduce, debate and vote on bills. While many people focus their attention on what the Legislature does each year, there is one final and crucial step in the legislative process that happens – the governor decides whether to veto part or all of a bill, or let it become law. Since this year’s legislative session ended March 7, Gov...

  • Dams save environment while making power

    Updated Apr 3, 2024

    Let’s have a look at the benefits of dams to human life with a special focus on Grand Coulee Dam. It is the largest hydroelectric producing facility in the U.S. and provides enough electricity to power about 2 million households every year, 68% of all Washington state households. Please keep in mind too, that it is just one of 145 hydroelectric dams in the state. Grand Coulee dam prompted the creation of the “U.S. Bureau of Reclamations Columbia Basin Project” which converted 670,000 acres (over 1,000 square-miles) of forme...

  • Why no Easter lily tours?

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Mar 28, 2024

    Easter is when potted Easter Lily plants start showing up in nurseries and supermarkets like poinsettias during the Christmas season. They adorn the altars and pulpits of most churches on Easter Sunday, but why don’t sightseers flock to fields to enjoy the spectacular sea of white blooms? The answer is a small group of family lily farmers who are bulb producers. They need to clip the flowers to concentrate the plant’s nutrients on bulb development. Fields of white flowers on...

  • Small farms are disappearing

    Madilynne Clark|Updated Mar 28, 2024

    Farm numbers across the U.S. are dwindling and the mountain states are no exception. Our country lost 7% of farms from 2017-2022, and all of the mountain states were above the national average. As a farmer in the region, I understand the stress of this profession, and if our country continues on its current trajectory our region's agricultural future looks bleak – more consolidation and less food security. From 2017-2022, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming all experienced...

  • Overreach and Underplayed

    Updated Mar 28, 2024

    I remember Senator Patty Murray as the “soccer mom,” good for you. The lower Snakes River recent bill brings the tribes onboard. Monumental has a concrete fish way-ladder. Lock and Dam continue to work for barges. Adaptable for fish? Or use a big tunnel-boring machine to notch on the side of a zig-zag fish ladder? Cooperation’s/ compromise, not contempt or hard-headedness or extremism. You/ Governor Inslee/ President Biden need to take a step back some and look at the whole picture. Climate change (mankind only adds 3% to th...

  • Lawmakers miss salmon opportunity

    Todd Myers|Updated Mar 22, 2024

    The legislative session is over, and it had the potential to be very positive for salmon recovery. There was bipartisan support for habitat restoration. Legislators also had a huge amount of money to allocate because the tax on CO2 emissions generated far more money than anticipated. Despite that, the Legislature failed to make significant progress on salmon. It is one more wasted opportunity to protect an iconic state species. The most glaring example of the failure is in...

  • Session a mix of success, disappointment

    Mark Schoesler and Joe Schmick and Mary Dye|Updated Mar 22, 2024

    The 2024 legislative session is now in the history books. After 60 days, in which 201 House bills and 180 Senate bills passed the Legislature, we can report a mix of great successes and disappointments. We fought hard for public hearings on all six citizens' initiatives to the Legislature. Closer to the end of the session, Democratic leaders in both the House and Senate reluctantly agreed to hear three of the measures but sent the other three initiatives to the November...

  • Tree farms part of climate solution

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Mar 14, 2024

    As climate change concerns grow, researchers are turning to family tree farmers for assistance. They have been helping for a century, but their efforts have gone unrecognized. The American Tree Farm program has emphasized sustainability and managing lands for water quality, wildlife, wood, and recreation. In recent years, it has included climate change. According to the American Forest Foundation, families and individuals collectively care for the largest portion of forests...

  • What to watch for in energy leases

    Norm Brock|Updated Mar 14, 2024

    By Norman D. Brock Attorney at Law, Brock Law Firm Editor's Note: This story was originally published in the March edition of Wheat Life Magazine. Many of our widespread agricultural base of clients have, over the last several years, been presented opportunities to participate in an energy lease, whether solar or wind. Many of these leases were entered into years ago, most especially wind energy leases, and now are producing very significant income streams for the landlord/fam...

  • 'Climate agenda' to cost you $20,000

    Shelly Short|Updated Mar 7, 2024

    Eleven years ago, when we started debating the climate agenda in Olympia, I sat on a study committee we called the Climate Legislative Executive Workgroup and asked an unpopular question: How much good will these policies do and how much will they cost? How dare I ask a question like that? The fate of Mother Earth was at stake. No expense was too great. Today, we are starting to get an idea of the cost. How would you like to pay $20,000? How about $50,000 or more? This is how...

  • Commissioners request Albert Sensor bill veto

    Rob Coffman|Updated Mar 7, 2024

    Several years ago, the Washington Secretary of States provided to counties, at no cost, a device called an Albert Sensor. Albert is an intrusion detection device that was provided to counties with the narrative that it will help secure our elections. The installation of these devices required that counties enter into a contract with a third-party, non-governmental organization (NGO) called Center for Internet Security (CIS) located in New York. The premise was that CIS would...

  • Dam compact words matter

    Roger Harnack|Updated Feb 29, 2024

    Let’s take a few words that should be on the minds of all Eastern Washingtonians concerned over efforts to breach Snake River dams — agreement, restoration and sovereign, to name a few. Last Thursday in the White House, President Joe Biden signed onto the “Commitments in Support of the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative and in Partnership with the Six Sovereigns” agreement. The so-called “sovereigns” refers to the states of Washington and Oregon, and four tribes — th...

  • Small, but impactful Legislature wins

    Judy Warnick|Updated Feb 29, 2024

    Let me begin with some political realities about your state Legislature. Republicans, and I am one, are in the minority. The Senate Republican Caucus, of which I am the chairwoman, has 20 members. Our Democratic colleagues have a 9-vote majority in the state Senate, which makes our jobs representing rural values and needs a challenge. Most Senate majority members are from King County and Seattle. So, their world view is different. I do my best to communicate the very real...

  • Beef cow type, then and now, Part 2

    Don Llewellyn|Updated Feb 22, 2024

    Welcome to 2024! Where has the time gone? It seems like yesterday that I was thinking that graduating from high school in 1977 would be an eternity in the future. Now I appreciate what they meant when my elders used to say they wish they could go back to days gone by. Oh well, with a little optimism, the future can be pretty good too. Last month I started the discussion of 70 years of change in beef cow type. Now, let’s continue but from the perspective of how the evolution o...

  • Forest bill offers welcome change

    Roger Harnack|Updated Feb 22, 2024

    Funny how it took a move into the country before a Democrat would support efforts to clean up our forests. Last week, Senate Bill 6121 passed the Senate unanimously. The bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege — a Democrat who now lives at Lake Sutherland — encourages the removal of downed timber and other “fuel” that could feed a wildfire. He should be commended for being the first Democrat to step out of the party box and recognize the importance of removing downed timber,...

  • State needs more law officers

    Jeff Holy|Updated Feb 15, 2024

    There was a time many years ago when our state was generally safe and did not have a serious crime problem. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, that was then and this is now. Washington is among the nation’s leaders in several crimes, including auto theft and retail theft. While the nation’s violent crime rate dropped slightly from 2021 to 2022, our state saw an increase, according to the FBI. According to a report by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chi...

  • Wisdom needed for wind farm decisions

    Updated Feb 15, 2024

    I went to a community meeting about a proposed wind generation project encompassing Reardan and Davenport. First off. This project and the one in southern Lincoln county are huge. These have the economic power to rival or eclipse agriculture. Let that sink in a bit. Farming could take second seat to the concerns of power generation. The thought of seeing wind towers on the horizons of the county sickens me. Look around Colfax and see what I mean. One of the thoughts outside of the forum was why were they offering just a flat...

  • Windfarms an unnecessary eyesore

    Updated Feb 15, 2024

    If you haven’t seen how ugly wind farms are you need to get out more. Go south to Colfax or Dayton and look at how they have destroyed the beauty of the rolling hills of the Palouse and breaks of the Tucannon in Whitman and Columbia counties, respectively. Even along the Columbia Gorge, do you see how it has destroyed the natural beauty. The only ones who win in this waste of dollars is the manufacturer of the turbine and the landowner upon which it sits. The losers are the rest of us who have to look at the eyesores and t...

  • Take 'Gotcha!' out of records requests

    Joe Schmick|Updated Feb 8, 2024

    When state voters adopted the state’s Public Records Act in 1972, they wanted to make sure state, county and city governments operate openly and are transparent to the people. They recognized the best way to ensure transparency and accountability is to require most government records are made available to the public. The PRA, however, was never intended to help some make money at the expense of governments. Unfortunately, there are a few “vexatious requesters” who learn...

  • Charting a Sustainable Energy Future

    Matt Boehnke|Updated Feb 8, 2024

    As Washington stands at a pivotal moment in shaping its energy future, it becomes increasingly clear that adopting sensible, forward-thinking solutions is crucial for a reliable, cost-effective, and environmentally sound power grid. It’s time for our state to embrace energy policies that genuinely prioritize the well-being of its residents. The Power Washington plan, a comprehensive strategy I advocate for, is designed to confront and resolve critical issues within our e...

  • EV battery recycling a huge effort

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Feb 1, 2024

    Each year Americans throw away more than three billion batteries constituting 180,000 tons of hazardous material. The situation is likely to get worse as the world shifts to lithium batteries to power a massive influx of electric vehicles (EV). It needs immediate attention. Everyday-green.com reported more than 86,000 tons of single-use alkaline batteries (AAA, AA, C and D) are thrown away yearly. They power electronic toys and games, portable audio equipment and flashlights a...

  • State parks failing at Palouse Falls, Lyons

    Roger Harnack|Updated Feb 1, 2024

    Two years ago, Washington State Parks bureaucrats in Tumwater hatched a plan to address so-called “overcrowding” at Palouse Falls. The plan was to close and relocate the campground to Lyons Ferry, require permits to visit Upper Palouse Falls and to end hiking and exploring in and around the main Palouse Falls basin. The effort also eliminated kayaking access on the upper Palouse River. And to make the effort sound legitimate, those city-dwelling bureaucrats called Palouse Fal...

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