To the editor:
As co-chair of the Sierra Club’s Coal-Free Bainbridge project I would like to express our deep appreciation to City Council Member Kirsten Hytopoulos for her efforts to protect our environment.
Two years ago Kirsten introduced a council resolution to oppose the proliferation of coal trains from the Powder River Basin to Washington ports for shipment to China. These trains would cause substantial damage to the already precarious health of Puget Sound.
Recently she sought council approval to officially voice her concerns to the Utilities and Transportation Commission about Puget Sound Energy’s plans to continue to rely on coal as a major fuel source for generating electricity over the next two decades.
Kirsten was also the sponsor of our recent ban on plastic bags. She has as well been active in other environmental issues as a private citizen for many years.
Pollution, the health of the Sound and climate disruption should be of real concern to all Bainbridge Islanders. The efforts of so many dedicated residents and organizations to make our community sustainable are seriously undermined by the fact that more than 30 percent of our electricity comes from coal. PSE’s coal generating plant in Colstrip Montana is one of the dirtiest plants in the nation and a major contributor of greenhouse gases. Rising sea levels, species die-off and ocean acidification increasingly threaten island communities such as ours.
Plastic bags are the single most dangerous debris item for our coastal waters because they are ingested by sea animals or sink to the bottom covering and destroying near shore eco-systems. Our bag ban is a step in the right direction in protecting the Sound.
We are hopeful that new council members will take as seriously as Kirsten has the role that local government can and must play in keeping our environment healthy for both current and future generations. Our plastic bag ordinance and resolution against the coal trains have also helped to encourage other communities to take similar steps thus amplifying their environmental benefits.
Thank you, Kirsten. Your voice and your commitment will be missed.