New school campuses
In the Tri-Cities, three new elementary schools are set to open, and three more elementary schools were rebuilt. Delta High School, arguably the gem of the state’s program to enhance STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education, and Richland’s HomeLink program have new homes. A total of eight newly built or remodeled schools are the result of $123 million in taxpayer investment, mostly through local bonds. That’s something our community can celebrate and be proud of during these challenging times for education.
Tri-City researchers awarded
We’re proud to be the home of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The lab often makes the news for research and innovation that has changed lives around the globe and promises to do so in the future. The lab was in the news again last week after receiving two awards from the Federal Laboratory Consortium Far West Region for partnering with industry and developing new technologies. One was the development of high-tech welding process that will allow automakers to manufacture lighter cars, which could drastically reduce fuel consumption and as a result carbon emissions. The second award was for supercomputer software that can simulate the growth of billions and trillions of cells. It can be used by scientists researching issues ranging from brain cancer to the formation of bacterial colonies. Too often when we think of the lab, we think of the campus or the organization in a manner somewhat detached from our community. In reality, it’s not the lab that’s changing our world for the better, it’s the Tri-Citians, your neighbors, who work there. Congratulations, neighbor, and thank you for what you do.
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Ignoring the Arctic race
The U.S. is sitting on the sidelines as Russia and China are making claims on large portions of the Arctic. There’s a lot at stake: About 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its natural gas are thought to be in the Arctic, with a trillion dollars’ worth of minerals. Sea lanes are opening as ice melts because of global warming, and shipping is on the rise, bringing opportunities but also the need for ports and emergency-response vessels for rescues. The U.S. hasn’t built a new heavy-class icebreaker in 40 years, and hasn’t developed a deepwater port within 900 miles.
The U.S. can’t submit its own claim because it is the only Arctic nation that has not ratified the law of the sea treaty, which sets international standards for maritime nations. Ratification has been blocked by Republicans in the Senate, who say that the treaty would give too much authority to an international organization. That position needs to be rethought, quickly.