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Jeff Humphrey

Every Day is Earth Day in Spokane

Jeff Humphrey, Media Content Coordinator, 509.625.6308

Friday, April 19, 2019 at 10:03 a.m.

The City of Spokane rings in Earth Day 2019 with a demonstrated commitment to caring for the environment.

Protecting the planet is critical for future generations but sustainable practices also help the City save taxpayers money.

“Everything we do at the City needs to be both financially and environmentally responsible. What that means in terms of the circular economy is, that we just don’t waste anything,” said Cadie Olsen, manager of the City of Spokane’s Environmental & Sustainability Programs.

By producing electricity at the Waste to Energy Plant and Upriver Dam, the City is net energy positive, which means the City generates more power than it uses according to an annual report that began back 2015.

“We’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth saying again. The City’s renewable energy generation surpasses its use of electricity, natural gas and fuel combined; truly a greener city,” Mayor David Condon explained.

“We need to get value out of every single resource that we have and that translates itself into economic development as well,” Olsen added.

Going green can help create new jobs and businesses. A local company called Ag Energy has found a way to create energy and biochar out of wheat stubble.

“With the increase in awareness of the environmental impact of burning agricultural waste, we’ve created a system that can process it at a high temperature and low oxygen environment. It burns very cleanly and it produces a biochar and synthetic gas,” detailed David Drinkard, CEO of Ag Energy Solutions.

Farmers can use the synthetic gas to power pumps for irrigation. The biochar serves as a soil supplement.

“So by producing that biochar and putting it back in the farmland, we get increased yield, reduced water and provide increased value back to the farmer,” Drinkard said.

The City is also looking to promote a circular economy on the West Plains by trying to market excess steam from the Waste to Energy Plant.

“It’s extremely exciting. We need to be doing more of this as a city and again, Spokane has the opportunity to lead with concrete examples of sustainable business. It can be that simple, that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure,” concluded Olsen.

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