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Articles written by Don C. Brunell


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  • Solar, wind parts fill up dumps

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Apr 9, 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...

  • Why no Easter lily tours?

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Mar 26, 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...

  • Tree farms are part of climate solution

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Mar 12, 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...

  • Cleansing sewage essential to water

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Feb 20, 2024

    In Washington, this year we hope to again escape the historic droughts plaguing other parts of the world. The Columbia River water system flowed at normal levels in recent years which is good for our agriculture, hydropower generation, barging, local water supplies, and fish and wildlife. However, 20 years ago we faced the same severe drought that is afflicting the world’s major river drainages including the Colorado River. That water scarcity forced factories to close, f...

  • Recycling EV batteries a huge effort

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Jan 30, 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...

  • Expose dam plan to reality

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Jan 16, 2024

    The $33 billion secret Snake River Dam plan that President Biden and friends cooked up in the White House basement needs to be exposed to the light of day and thoroughly aired by all. It is time to assess how it might work in the real world rather than wait and see what happens once it is implemented. While $33 billion may seem like “walking around” money to a President who tosses around trillion-dollar programs like horseshoes at the church picnic, the amount is equal to the...

  • Military money is Golden Egg

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Jan 9, 2024

    Aesop’s fable warns against killing the goose laying golden eggs. The tale’s origins date to 600 B.C. and tells of the greedy farmer who foolishly killed the prized goose to get to the gold’s source and ended up with nothing. Skeptics in our nation’s capital today quip that politicians are greedy, self-serving and tone deaf and are cooking their own geese and all of us too. Those controlling the “other Washington” have us drowning in debt. According to the U.S. Treasury, w...

  • Dairy farmers push cow power

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Jan 2, 2024

    In the 1990s, “things go better with Coca Cola” was the catchy slogan dairy farmers dreaded. At the time, milk producers were in a head-to-head battle with soft drink giants and losing. Milk consumption had steadily declined over the previous two decades. One key reason was aggressive advertising by bottlers of iced tea, water and pop. In 1993, nationwide milk consumption declined 20% and was down to less than one cup per person per day. So, in 1993 California’s dairy indus...

  • Finding the power for Christmas lights

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Dec 12, 2023

    It is that time of year when people put up their outside holiday lights and displays. Judging from our neighborhood they are decorating more than usual. In our country 90 percent of individuals say they plan to celebrate the holidays this year. Total retail sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas are projected to reach $957 billion. The setting for the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is reminiscent of bedecked suburban communities. Clark Griswold decorates every foot o...

  • Making their way to America

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Nov 20, 2023

    As we prepare for the upcoming holidays, we must be grateful for what we have and focus on our needs rather than fixate on what we want and crave. Being thankful starts with an appreciation of why our families came to America in the first place---our freedoms and opportunities. Legendary singer-song writer Neil Diamond hit single; “America” was performed in 1981 to help welcome home 52 American hostages that Iranian militants held for 444 days at the U.S. Embassy in Teh...

  • Never forget our veterans

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Nov 14, 2023

    While the last veterans who survived the “surprise” Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are dwindling rapidly, we cannot let their sacrifices and the memories of that horrific day which propelled America into World War II fade into history. On December 7, 1941, 350 Japanese aircraft descended on Honolulu’s military installations in two shocking waves. More than 2,400 Americans were killed, and 21 ships were sunk or damaged. Our soldiers, sailors and pilots who fought and won W...

  • Return of the sockeye salmon

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Nov 7, 2023

    In 1992, a single male sockeye salmon managed to swim 900 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River to Redfish Lake located deep in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains---the end of his migratory journey. Biologists dubbed the sole survivor, “Lonesome Larry.” By 2010, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council happily reported record-setting runs for sockeye —387,000 had climbed the fish ladders at Bonneville Dam. Last year, 751 sockeye were trapped at Redfish Lake Creek and taken t...

  • Hydrogen hubs may help switch from Diesel

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Oct 17, 2023

    President Joe Biden’s $65 billion infrastructure bill contains $8 billion for regional hubs to develop ways to produce and distribute hydrogen fuel. One is planned for the Pacific Northwest and should help haulers and truck manufacturers in Renton and Portland in their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, long-distance haulers need a network of hydrogen fueling stations (like today’s truck stops) along with affordable trucks and fuel. Hub res...

  • Gas attacks stress Americans

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Oct 10, 2023

    Gov. Jay Inslee inappropriately used our state’s building codes to ban natural gas in new homes and commercial buildings. Now, the Biden Administration is going a step further issuing rules that drastically clamp down on natural gas used in heating and air conditioning units. Inslee’s regulations phase out fossil fuels used for heating water and cooking in new buildings by 2030. They were the first steps to eliminating natural gas in and around the house. Biden’s Dept. of En...

  • Canceled drilling leases hurts us

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Sep 26, 2023

    While media focus was on Joe Biden’s decree putting a tiny plot of land within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off limits to oil and gas exploration, reporters ignored the bigger story. Biden’s other proclamation forbids tapping more than 10 million acres within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, a 23-million-acre area on Alaska’s North Slope. That is the area which should replenish the crude oil drawdown stemming from Biden’s oil withdrawal from strategic wells est...

  • Banning diesel truck is reckless

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Sep 19, 2023

    There is an axiom: Don’t let “the perfect” get in the way of the good! That is important to remember when it comes to improving our air quality. While climate activists want to banish all fossil fuels to control greenhouse gas, it is not possible today without epic disruption to our economy, supply chains, jobs, and quality of life. Simply, getting to “zero emission” cannot happen by government edicts. It takes innovation driven by the private sector. For example, the Calif...

  • Military service to America avoids student debt

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Sep 12, 2023

    With students returning to college campuses, it is time to consider other ways for them to pay for tuition, books and living expenses. Too often, they resort to borrowing. Now, student loan forgiveness is spotlighted as the solution when it is only part of the answer. There are other ways. Student indebtedness is mounting. It is exacerbated by rising “total costs to attend” college (COA). The growth rate exceeds inflation and interest rates on student loans are often hig...

  • Kudos for Holden Mine site cleanup

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Aug 8, 2023

    Today, good works are often brushed aside or ignored – especially, if done by one of the world’s largest mining companies. However, Rio Tinto deserves kudos for its half-billion-dollar mine cleanup in Holden., a remote village in the North Cascade mountains just south of Lake Chelan. Rio Tinto did not mine an ounce of copper or other precious metals at Holden. It acquired the site as part of a larger purchase. It gathered interested stakeholders together and ironed sol...

  • Cherry season sweetens economy

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Jul 18, 2023

    The good news is this state’s cherry crop looks good—a marked improvement over 2022. It is sweetening our farm economy especially for cherry growers who have struggled over the last five years. “Last year’s cold, wet April brought down the cherry crop,” Wenatchee World writer Gabriel Garcia recently reported. “But this year, the Washington state cherry harvest is in full swing, and the industry is optimistic about it.” Washington’s cherry growers expect to pick 21 million...

  • Red tape shackles business

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Jul 11, 2023

    Until President Biden signed the Chips and Science Act (CSA) last year, companies, such as Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. looked elsewhere to build plants costing well over $20 billion each. Biden’s pitch to taxpayers was ultramodern manufacturers of miniature computer chips used in our sophisticated weapons, advanced manufacturing, cars and trucks, and high-tech equipment needed to move back to the U.S A. Congress responded and passed CSA supplying a $280 b...

  • Mine wastes key to supply

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Jun 20, 2023

    China’s growing dominance of critical metals production and stockpiles is setting off global alarms. It has American manufacturers in a bind as they ramp up domestic electric vehicle (EV) battery production. Ores containing these elements are in deposits across our planet; however, the technology to process them is largely in China. As the China Communist Party (CCP) under Xi Jinping exerts its leverage, America and its allies are facing global economic and military c...

  • Cash drives state recycling

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Jun 13, 2023

    When Oregon enacted the nation’s first bottle bill in 1971, it was intended to reduce litter on the state’s beaches, along roads, and in parks. It was a cleanup, not a recycling program. Today, the focus is recycling empty beer, pop, juice, and water containers and it is working very well in large part because it pays people to recycle. Collect the “empties” and earn a dime for each plastic bottle or aluminum can. It adds up and often is enough money to supplement purchas...

  • Agreement on debt just start

    Don C. Brunell|Updated Jun 6, 2023

    The deal reached between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to increase our nation’s debt limit was a welcome compromise. It appears to avert our nation’s defaulting on our financial responsibilities and is a step toward bringing government spending under control. However, it is just a start; and the hurdles ahead are much higher. While the federal government operates differently than a family or business, people are starting to realize that if our nation def...

  • Build electricity around hydropower

    Don C. Brunell|Updated May 23, 2023

    Although New Zealand and Washington are located a half-a-world apart, they have lots in common---beautiful seashores, majestic mountains, crystal clear streams and lakes, and vibrant salmon and trout fisheries. Both are struggling to rid their air sheds of CO2 and other greenhouse gases coming from the burning of carbon fuels (coal, natural gas, gasoline, and diesel) in vehicles, home heating and electric-power generation. New Zealand and Washington share a common goal to be c...

  • It's That Time of the Year

    Don C. Brunell|Updated May 9, 2023

    Some would argue that spring is the most wonderful time of the year in Washington. Throughout our state fruit trees blossom, vibrant tulip fields bloom, and colorful lentils carpeted the fields on the Palouse. It is when photographers and sightseers have a field day. While spring is eye-catching, it is the late summer and fall when our state reaps the benefits of the harvest. It is when crops yield “green” generating cash in markets around the world. While Washington ran...

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