Coal on the Decline — 150 Coal Plants Set for Retirement

Movement sparks shift to clean energy, major carbon reductions

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—(ENEWSPF)—October , 2013. Today the Sierra Club and a growing coalition of local, regional and national allies announced the retirement of its 150th coal plant — a significant milestone in the ongoing campaign to move the country beyond coal no later than 2030. With today’s announcement that the Brayton Point Power Station in Massachusetts would retire by 2017, the campaign officially marked 150 coal plants that have announced plans to retire since 2010.  

According to the Clean Air Task Force, retiring these 150 coal plants will help to save 4,000 lives every year, prevent 6,200 heart attacks every year and prevent 66,300 asthma attacks every year. Retiring these plants will also avoid $1.9 billion in health costs.  

Sierra Club has made the announcement public via a video on YouTube featuring a special acoustic performance by indie alternative group Nico Vega.

“The closure of the Brayton Point Power Station is a powerful example of how local action can have a global impact,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City. “Over the last three years, action by individual communities – in partnership with the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies – has led to the closure of 150 coal plants, one at a time. We will continue to support those who are on the ground working to close the nation’s dirty coal plants, which kill 13,000 Americans every year and threaten the future of our planet.”

“Plant by plant and community by community we are not only curbing our country’s carbon pollution, but we are also saving lives,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “By moving our country off of dirty, dangerous coal, we are creating new opportunities for clean energy and thousands of new American jobs to protect workers and public health. The transition from coal to clean energy can and will transform our economy by establishing a huge new sector of good jobs that power our communities without poisoning our children.” 

“New England is leading the nation in the move away from dirty coal and toward innovative renewable energy solutions like our growing offshore wind industry,” said James McCaffery, New England Beyond Coal campaign representative for the Sierra Club. “This is a testament to the great work of local residents who have been fighting to clean up the air in the region for more than a decade,” 

“Our coalition of environmental, conservation, public health and civil rights groups has achieved a milestone that few thought possible,” said Verena Owen, a veteran volunteer leader who co-leads the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “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 these predictions, securing the retirement of more than 58,000 megawatts: more than one sixth of the entire nation’s coal capacity and more than one quarter of all coal plants in the country. Through grassroots activism and the power of passionate Americans across the country, we are telling the dirty, outdated and deadly coal industry that enough is enough.”

The coal industry is facing multiple threats, including rising coal costs, falling clean energy prices, a motivated grassroots coalition of organizers working to move the nation off coal, and the growing national demand to tackle climate-disrupting carbon pollution from coal plants, which was the centerpiece of the climate strategy President Obama announced in June. With strong carbon pollution standards in place, these coal plants must either clean up their pollution through modern pollution controls, or transition away from burning dirty coal.

Indeed, as utilities and energy companies realize that coal is an increasingly bad investment, they are transitioning their resources to cleaner, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar. Today, the United States has more than 60,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity, enough to power the equivalent of 15 million American homes. In fact, the state of Texas produces so much wind energy, that if Texas were a country, it would be the world’s sixth ranking wind energy producer. Meanwhile, states across the country are already being powered by renewable energy. In 2012, Iowa and South Dakota received more than 20 percent of their energy from wind, and nine states produced more than 10 percent of their electricity from wind energy. 

What’s more, this year the U.S. joined three other countries with more than 10,000 megawatts of installed solar capacity.  Solar is the fastest growing energy option in the US, and in states like New Jersey, North Carolina, California and Illinois, solar power is both creating local jobs and providing clean, affordable electricity. This growth in clean energy has helped to create more jobs across the country. Clean energy industries now employ nearly 200,000 Americans.