Victory for Sierra Club and allies: 150 coal plants retired in US

• October 16, 2013
150 coal plants

Protest against the Brayton Point coal power plant in Massachusetts. Creative Commons: Lea Macnider, 2013

The Sierra Club and its allies marked a huge victory for public health and the climate this week as the 150th coal plant targeted by their US Beyond Coal campaign announced its retirement.

With 150 coal plants in the US shut down or on their way to retirement thanks to almost four years of work by the Beyond Coal campaign, communities can now breathe easier. Each retired coal plant helps to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions and the toxic air and water pollution that cause illness and shortened lifespan.

The benefits of phasing out coal power are immense. In the words of Mary Anne Hitt, Director of Beyond Coal:

According to the Clean Air Task Force, retiring these 150 coal plants will help to save 4,000 lives, prevent 6,200 heart attacks and prevent 66,300 asthma attacks every year. Those are parents who won’t have to watch their children suffer an asthma attack and miss school. Those are kids who won’t have to see their parents or grandparents suffer heart or breathing problems. Retiring these plants will also avoid $1.9 billion in health costs.

The campaign aims to retire all coal plants in the US by 2030 — a goal that looks ever closer to achievement as communities, leaders, and policymakers come together to phase out dirty fossil fuels and promote the rapid development of clean energy in its place.

Verena Owen of the Beyond Coal campaign explains how their work with thousands of activists across the country has ramped up the US transition to clean energy:

In 2010, analysts expected about 30,000 megawatts of coal would retire over the next decade. But in less than three years the campaign has nearly doubled those predictions, securing the retirement of more than 60,000 megawatts, more than one quarter of all coal plants in the country.

The 150th coal plant to be retired under the pressure of the Beyond Coal campaign is the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset, Massachusetts, a plant at the center of several high profile protests in recent months. The campaigners are now pushing the owners of Brayton Point and state decision-makers to ensure that workers at the plant are given assistance as they transition to new employment and economic opportunities.


Source: The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, 2013. Share this on Facebook!



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About the Author

Emily is a graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland with a B.A. in psychology. While in school, she spent her time leading environmental and social justice campaigns. She recently worked for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network as a grassroots organizer for a moratorium on natural gas fracking in Maryland.

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