> NASA scientist urges action on climate change

NASA’s top climate scientist painted a dire picture Monday – from flooded coastlines to apocalyptic wildfires – unless the world finds a cleaner way to power its light bulbs, motor vehicles and factories.

“We’re setting the planet on a trajectory of very dramatic consequences within this century,” James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told an overflow crowd at the University of Montana.

Despite the bleak warning, Hansen said he was confident that clean replacements for coal, oil and natural gas can be found if people put enough pressure on their politicians and policymakers.

“We’re losing the battle, but I’m optimistic we can solve this problem,” Hansen said. “We need to get beyond fossil fuels. It will be a very different planet if we continue business as usual.”

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Regional power supplier plugging into wind energy

The region’s largest wholesaler of electrical power is plugging into a new wind-energy project, part of a multi-year plan to substantially increase wind’s contribution to the grid.

“Public demand in the Northwest for sources of clean, renewable power has never been stronger,” said Steve Wright, top boss at the Bonneville Power Administration. Wright called the new 50-megawatts of wind power “a sound business decision; it’s cost-competitive, fits with the agency’s goals of serving the region’s needs, and helps BPA maintain its near-zero carbon footprint.”

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Montana asks Iceland for geothermal advice

Montana Senator Jon Tester recently extended an invitation to a delegation of business and government officials from Iceland to visit his state. The group has planned to visit Montana next month in order to assess the possibility of geothermal power in the region.

Senator Tester co-sponsored a bill on geothermal energy later this year. As part of the National Geothermal Initiative Act of 2007, experts were brought before the Senate Energy Committee to consider the possibility of using geothermal power, like Iceland. Expert testimony contributed to the country setting a goal to use geothermal resources to power at least 20 per cent of the energy needs in the US by 2030.

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