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Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Passes Halfway Point in Coal Retirement Goals

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U.S. Communities Successfully Transitioning to Clean Energy While Meaningful Action is Obstructed in Washington
Friday, March 1, 2013
Contact: 
Eitan.Bencuya@sierraclub.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 1, 2013

Contact:

Eitan Bencuya, Sierra Club, eitan.bencuya@sierraclub.org, 202-495-3047

Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Passes Halfway Point in Coal Retirement Goals

U.S. Communities Successfully Transitioning to Clean Energy While Meaningful Action is Obstructed in Washington

Washington, D.C. – Today the Sierra Club announced that its Beyond Coal campaign is more than halfway toward meeting its goal of responsibly securing the retirement of a third of the nation’s coal-fired power. The announcement comes just a year and a half after Bloomberg Philanthropies gave a $50 million grant to the Sierra Club to support the efforts of the Beyond Coal campaign. As part of this agreement, the Sierra Club set the ambitious goal of having commitments to retire 105,000 megawatts of coal -- about one third of the US coal installed capacity -- by 2015.

On Monday, the Sierra Club and its allies announced a landmark settlement agreement that will require American Electric Power (AEP), to responsibly retire three coal-fired power plants in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky -- a total of 2,011 megawatts that will remove almost 12 million tons of climate-disrupting carbon pollution and nearly 84,000 tons of sulfur dioxide pollution from our air. With this week’s announcement, the Beyond Coal campaign and its allies have now secured the retirement of 142 coal-burning power plants, representing 53,978 megawatts, or just over 15% of the existing coal fleet. 

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club has helped continue the record growth of clean energy in the US, bringing new renewable energy capacity online to replace the retired coal plants. To date, wind and solar alone provide more than 66,000 megawatts of installed capacity, enough to power more than 13 million homes. 2012 was the best year ever for new wind installations, and in January 2013, every single megawatt of new installed electric capacity was from renewable sources.

"If we continue to use coal, we will continue to kill our citizens," said Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City. "With every 50,000 megawatts of coal taken off line, more than 3,600 deaths are prevented and $1.7 billion in healthcare costs are saved each year. I couldn't be more proud of our work to ensure that all Americans have clean air to breathe."

“Just a year and a half ago, I stood beside Mayor Bloomberg with the coal-fired Potomac Generating Station as a backdrop, and together, we pledged to move our nation beyond coal. Today that coal plant is closed, more than one-sixth of the nation’s coal capacity is slated for retirement, and wind and solar are growing faster than any other energy source,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “While Congress is paralyzed by partisan bickering, our grassroots, people-powered campaign is succeeding city by city and state by state, helping the U.S. lead the world in cutting dangerous carbon emissions. With each coal plant that we retire, we are clearing the path for clean, renewable energy that doesn’t make our children sick or wreak havoc on our climate, while also working hard to ensure job training and assistance programs for workers on the ground, that will help them transition their skills to good, green jobs.”

Today, the Beyond Coal campaign, in partnership with more than 100 organizations nationwide, is one of the most successful environmental campaigns in U.S. history. The campaign currently employs more than 175 staff members around the country and has a plan in place to responsibly retire another 50,000 megawatts by 2020. With more than one local action every day, the campaign is working to retire coal plants on all fronts -- from public utility commission hearings, to legal actions over Clean Air Act violations, to investor meetings, to community actions -- and averaged one coal plant retirement a week in 2012.

According to the Clean Air Task Force, the nearly 54,000 megawatts of coal retired by the campaign so far will result in approximately 3,900 lives saved, 6,000 heart attacks avoided, and $1.8 billion in health costs saved, every year. It also will prevent 206 million metric tons of climate-disrupting carbon pollution from being dumped into our air every year -- the equivalent of removing 43 million cars from our road.

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