Anti-coal campaign reaches milestone

Anti-coal campaign reaches milestone

An effort to shut down coal-fired power plants reached a major milestone Tuesday, with 100,000 megawatts of coal electricity capacity having announced shutdown plans since 2010.

The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, which launched in 2010 with the goal of reducing coal-fired power, celebrated the announcement as a big victory.

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The campaign crossed the 100,000 megawatt mark after electric utility Dynegy Inc. said it would close three coal-fired units at two power plants in Illinois.

“All over the country, people who are sick and tired of having our health and our future threatened by dirty coal have stood up for their health and the future of their communities and won,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

“The retirement of Illinois’ Baldwin and Newton coal units are not only a great step forward for public health in the Prairie State, it’s a clear sign that we are winning — coal plant by plant — in the effort to transition our communities away from dirty coal electricity.”

Beyond Coal works through numerous means to get coal plants shut down, including federal lobbying for regulations and laws, state planning, meetings regarding individual plants and public relations.

The coal plant closures announced in 2010 will prevent 100,792 asthma attacks, 9,420 heart attacks and 6,097 premature deaths annually, the Sierra Club said.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, through his Bloomberg Philanthropies, is the main financial force behind Beyond Coal, having donated $80 million to the campaign.

“Retiring enough coal to displace the pollution from 89 million cars is more than a major campaign milestone; it is an astonishing victory for public health and climate action,” Antha Williams, leader of the Bloomberg Philanthropies environmental program, said in a statement.