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The sun rises Aug. 23 amid smokey skies in a Spokane, WA park. Photo: Amy Harder/Axios

A window into how a warmer world affects local energy debates just unfolded in Spokane, a city in Eastern Washington state that has had unprecedented bad air quality on par with Asia’s polluted cities because of wildfire smoke in the region.

Driving the news: The Spokane City Council last week approved an ordinance setting a goal to get 100% renewable electricity by 2030, according to The Spokesman Review. It’s one of dozens of American cities pledging more renewable energy.

Quoted: “Not normal,” City Council President Ben Stuckart, a Democrat, tweeted before last week’s meeting, per The Inlander, another local publication. "Unsustainable. Patios sit empty. Trail systems unhiked. Need masks just to get to work. Public pools closed. We need to take responsibility for our climate future or watch our future burn up.”

The details:

  • The council approved the measure, 6-1, a veto-proof level of support if the mayor opposes it.
  • The city had been mulling such an ordinance since at least April, partly at the encouragement of 350 Spokane, a local chapter of the activist group 350.org.
  • Spokane, population of a little more than 200,000, is the biggest city in Eastern Washington, a conservative part of an otherwise progressive state.
  • Washington gets much of its power already from a renewable energy: hydropower.

One level deeper: Multiple factors, including forest mismanagement, make wildfires worse. Warmer temperatures and droughts, which climate change is worsening, are also making wildfires more intense in some regions, including western U.S., scientists say.

  • Spokane's smokey air this summer is coming from wildfires in Oregon, California and Canada, depending on which way the wind is blowing.
  • Spokane's wildfire-fueled smoke has gotten worse since 2015, locals say. To the extent this becomes a long-term norm, it could gradually change minds on climate change, according to experts who have studied how people connect weather events and climate change.

What’s next: After weeks of smokey white skies and smoke-scented air, a couple days of rain washed the smoke away Monday, and forecasts predict clearer skies for now.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

The latest: Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.

Hollywood union reaches deal with studios to avert strike

Photo: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

A Hollywood workers' union reached a tentative deal with studios, networks and streamers that will guarantee better working conditions, meal breaks and increased wages for low-paid workers, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced Saturday night.

Why it matters: The deal, which still needs to be ratified by IATSE members, will avert a nationwide strike by film and television workers that was set to start Monday. It would have been the first strike in the union's 128-year history.

Bill Clinton released from hospital following treatment for non-COVID infection

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former President Bill Clinton was discharged from the University of California, Irvine Medical Center on Sunday, nearly a week after he was admitted for a non-COVID-related infection, according to his spokesperson Angel Ureña.

What they're saying: "His fever and white blood cell count are normalized and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics," wrote Dr. Alpesh Amin, who has been overseeing the team of doctors treating Clinton. "On behalf of everyone at UC Irvine Medical Center, we were honored to have treated him and will continue to monitor his progress."

Worth noting: Clinton had a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream, per CNN.

  • The California-based medical team had been administering IV antibiotics and fluids, and was in constant communication with Clinton's New York team, including his cardiologist, according to the former president's physicians.
  • President Biden spoke by phone with Clinton on Friday to see how he was doing, and the catch-up included a discussion of recent politics.