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Is America moving beyond coal?

July 31, 2012
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coal fired plantA partnership between the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies attempting to retire a third of the 500 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. by 2020 says it is well on its way.

The Beyond Coal Campaign formed a year ago with the goal of moving the nation away from coal and toward what it calls clean energy.

“We are clearly witnessing the end of our dependency on coal and the move toward a cleaner energy future," said Michael Bloomberg, whose Bloomberg Philanthropies has contributed $50 million to the Beyond Coal Campaign. “Coal-fired power plants and the pollution they produce -- including mercury -- are the number one threat to our public health and the environment. This is an issue of the American people's public health versus a narrow special interest. And we will not stop until we have achieved our goal.”

According to the Clean Air Task Force, eliminating pollution from 112 coal-fired power plants will translate into the prevention of 2,166 deaths, 3,426 heart attacks, and 35,210 asthma attacks every year. The U.S. is on track to meet or exceed the goal that President Obama set in the Copenhagen Accord, to decrease carbon pollution by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020. According to a recent report from the International Energy Agency, the U.S. has already seen the largest reduction in carbon pollution of any country, with CO2 emissions falling by 7.7%, largely because of a decrease in coal use.

According to Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club; “The US is now leading the world in reducing the carbon pollution that jeopardizes our climate.”

In Iowa and South Dakota, 20% of the energy now comes from wind power. Eight other states are now getting more than 10% of their energy from wind. The Sierra club says that after protests by residents and community groups in Alexandria, Virginia and Chicago, Illinois major coal plants were retired.

The campaign is now working to pass a clean energy ballot initiative in Michigan, help Los Angeles transition away from coal and towards clean energy, and create the second coal-free region in the U.S. as the northeast follows the lead of the Northwest and phases out coal use.

In San Antonio, Texas, decision makers announced plans to retire the Deely coal plant and to build a 400 megawatt solar facility that would provide over 800 jobs.

For more information about the Beyond Coal campaign please visit: www.beyondcoal.org/

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