Bloomberg Philanthropies and Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign Reaches Landmark Closure of 318th U.S. Coal Plant, on Track to Retire All Coal Plants by 2030
NEW YORK, NY — Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Sierra Club today announced that the U.S. Beyond Coal campaign has successfully retired 60% of domestic coal-fired power plants – 318 out of 530 plants, to date. This milestone doubles the original goal, set in 2011, which pledged to retire 30 percent of the nation’s coal fleet by 2020 and accelerate the United States’ transition to a clean energy economy.
Over the past decade, a diverse coalition has come together as part of the U.S. Beyond Coal campaign to end America’s reliance on dirty coal and transition the country to a more equitable, clean energy future. In partnership with the Sierra Club, Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested over $174 million in the U.S. Beyond Coal campaign, impacting all 50 U.S. states and mobilizing national action. By retiring the use of coal-fired power plants and spurring a transition to renewable energy sources, the campaign has helped reduce 605M metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air — the equivalent of eliminating nearly seven million pounds of coal burned – and has improved air quality and health outcomes for communities around the country. Beyond Coal plant closures in the U.S. have saved an estimated 7,600 lives, prevented nearly 12,000 heart attacks, and 125,000 asthma attacks, and resulted in an estimated annual savings of $3.6 billion in health care costs.
“When we set out to help transition the United States to a 100% clean energy economy by ending our dependence on coal, there were many naysayers – and when Donald Trump became president, they said it was impossible. But by hitting our goal of closing 60% of coal-fired power plants by 2020, we’ve proven what’s possible when we work together and lead from the bottom-up,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg LP, three-term Mayor of New York City. “This milestone shows us how far we’ve come – but also how much farther we could go with the federal government leading the charge, which is why this upcoming election is a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change.”
“As the fatal impacts of COVID-19 continue to rise in communities surrounded by high polluting facilities, improving air quality through coal-fired plant closures and renewable energy generation has never been more critical,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “Studies show there is a 15% higher chance of contracting the virus in areas with air pollution, which disproportionately impact communities of color and low income communities. Retiring our nation’s coal fleet is a huge step forward not just in the fight against COVID-19, but in making environmental justice and clean air a reality for communities around the country and the world.”
The 60% milestone was marked by the expected retirement of AES Hawaii — the last remaining coal-fired power plant in the state and the largest single source of toxic pollutants on the island of Oahu. This victory has been years in the making and was led by Sierra Club’s Hawaii chapter and Rep. Nicole Lowen, the legislative champion of the Coal Free Hawaii bill, as well as a former Sierra Club executive committee member...