Club's Beyond Coal Campaign awarded $50 million
On July 21 the Sierra Club announced an exciting partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged a $50 million commitment over four years to the Beyond Coal Campaign that will fuel the Club's effort to clean the air, end the coal era, and accelerate the transition to cleaner, cost-effective energy sources.
In the US, coal is the leading cause of greenhouse-gas emissions, and coal's pollution contributes to four out of the five leading causes of mortality—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and respiratory illness. Coal emits almost half of all U.S. mercury pollution, which causes developmental problems in babies and young children, as well as being a major contributor to asthma attacks. Coal pollution causes $100 billion in health costs annually.
"If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal. Ending coal power production is the right thing to do, because, while it may seem to be an inexpensive energy source, the impact on our environment and the impact on public health is significant," said Bloomberg.
Bloomberg added: "The Beyond Coal Campaign has had great success in stopping more than 150 new coal-fired power plants over the past few years and is empowering local communities to lead from the front while Congress continues to watch from the back. That is why I'm pleased to support the Sierra Club and its allies, and I encourage others to do the same."
The partnership will play a key role in helping the Club achieve its US goals of
• Cutting 30% of coal production by 2020,
"This partnership will help the Sierra Club to work with communities nationwide as they tell one coal plant after another that inflicting asthma and other diseases on their children is unacceptable and that they will not accept coal pollution in their neighborhoods," said Sierra Club Executive director Michael Brune.
The Club's Beyond Coal Campaign started as a three-person campaign in 2002 and has quickly grown into a powerhouse effort that is changing the way America produces energy. In 2001, the Bush Administration met with coal industry representatives as part of a closed-door energy task force, to craft plans for a new "coal rush"—the construction of 150 new coal-fired power plants. Had the industry prevailed in building these plants, the nation would have been locked into the use of 19th-century dirty fuels for the foreseeable future. The potential for entrepreneurs to develop wind, solar, and other clean technologies would have been crippled. Working with local people in neighborhoods across the country, Sierra Club organizers began fighting Big Coal's efforts to push through these plants. Together, they achieved one victory after another.
The Beyond Coal campaign has achieved many successes to date besides stopping new coal-fired power plants from being built. New mountaintop removal mining permits have slowed to a trickle, and nearly 10% of current coal power plants are slated for retirement.
Studies show that replacing coal's pollution with clean energy is possible, and as coal prices are going up, wind and solar are coming down. Iowa already gets more than 15% of its energy from wind power. San Antonio recently decided to shut down one of its dirty coal plants and install over 400 MW of solar power in what will be one of the largest solar installations in the world. The wind industry already provides more jobs in the US than the coal industry.
For more info visit beyondcoal.org.