Build another power plant near Sumas, WA? 

Poem written around 2001.

Everyone forgets the real issue.  Rising tide of population growth.

Twenty one percent in Washington State over past ten years.

Poem by Robert

Even with conservation.

Still more people to serve.

How can we reduce this explosive growth?

Don't we wish more people were gay?

Gay? You say.


Are you afraid of change?

My painting from high school.

So many raising families, population growth.

A collision course is coming.

You hang on to the farm and don't want a new power plant in your back yard.

You hang on to the big warm house and the status job.

Everyone sits still, holds on tight, up tight. 

Gets their lawyers.

Hanging on to too much.

Something has got to give.

Maybe we have to build?

Serve more houses, jobs.

Or else rolling black outs, social chaos?

And the poor are always caught in the middle.

Is it a no brainier?

Is it as easy as "flipping the switch?" 

What about natural gas?

Sumas power needs gas.

Natural gas getting scarce and expensive. 

Passing the buck from electricity to gas.

Maybe there is plenty of gas.  Do we just need to upgrade the pipeline? or is this just passing the buck rather than solving the problem?

Could people live with less space?  One or two room studios?  My power bill seldom is over $4 per month.

If nothing else are people, at least, willing to make some change.   Accepting a new power plant as a neighbor?

We can't have everything: a wasteful personal lifestyle plus no new industry.

How about alternative energy?  How about conservation?

Wind mill farms dotting the landscape. 

Do you like modern art? 

Big blades moving, bright colors whirling.  The view changing.

Did Grandma Moses paint a discotheque wind farm?

I love it, but do you?

Even alternative energy means change. 

Wind?  Solar? Fuel Cells?  Geothermal?  Nuclear? (maybe I shouldn't have said that last one?) 

How about hydrogen Fusion?

Regardless of what, innovation is required.

Regardless of what, change is the rule.

The radio says Denmark gets 30% of her electricity from wind.  Copenhagen harbor filled with futuristic turbines.  Looks like they invaded from space.

In USA, a similar proposal is offered for Nantucket Sound,  Massachussetts.  Some neighbors are fighting it.  Does futuristic turbines go with old shoreline cottages and driftwood fences?  What will this do to property values? 

We can't hold on too tight.  Up tight.

To build Sumas, or not to build, I don't have a yes or no answer.

I just know we have to do something.  Let go, accept change.

Maybe from several directions.

Changing lifestyles, cutting population, consuming less?
Solving the problem from one direction.

Building more, accommodating more.
Solving the problem from the other direction.

Alternative energy.  A discotheque wind farm.  Grandma Moses may even have a sense of humor!  Solving the problem from a third direction.

Don't hold on too tight to the old patterns.

Something has got to give.

Robert Ashworth
Why EXXON does not own the sun
Letter to editor
May 5 2001

People often wonder why power companies have not done much to develop solar energy.  A power company's job is to distribute electricity from a central source to consumers.  There is no central source for energy from the sun.  Sunlight does not shine any brighter on power company facilities that it does on the roofs of average homes and buildings all over the landscape.  Distribution of energy has already been accomplished by the sun, with out the need of a power company.  Building owners just have to install collectors.  Solar cells, hot water systems and just opening curtains of south facing windows can make a difference.  This is one of many examples of how environmentalism can be helped with a dose of personal responsibility. 

Too much of the environmental movement has only been about blocking power plants in someone's backyard.  It has been about pointing fingers of blame.  When average individuals don't do anything to change lifestyles or reduce population growth the power plants must be built.  It is like putting fingers in the dike to try and stop the inevitable.

Drilling in Alaska might be better than drilling in Ecuador

Stopping oil drilling in Alaska could just lead to importing more oil from third world countries where less stringent environmental standards are in place.

Environmentalists should do more to advocate real changes in the average American lifestyle.  Many of these changes could be for the better.  If people bicycled more, rather than being so dependent on cars, it could lead to a healthier world as well.

Photo of Sumas 1 taken in 1995; a cogeneration plant.  Waste heat used in wood drying. 

A proposal to build Sumas 2 has recently been abandoned (March 2006 news).  Stiff opposition.  There was quite a bit of worry that emissions would be boxed in by mountains due to the layout of Fraser River valley, down wind from this location. 

Automobiles are also in this picture, of course.  Aren't they everywhere?

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