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100 Coal Plants Prevented or Abandoned
Movement Sparks Shift to Cleaner Energy and Over 400 Million Fewer Tons of CO2

Jul 9, 2009 - Virginia Cramer - Sierra Club

Washington, DC:  Americans can breathe easier today as Intermountain Power’s coal plant in Utah became the 100th new coal plant to be prevented or abandoned since the beginning of the coal rush in 2001. In their place, a smart mix of clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, wind, solar and geothermal has stepped up to meet America’s energy needs. Last year 42 percent of all new power producing capacity came from wind, and for the first time the wind industry created more jobs than mining coal.  And it’s not just wind, significant job creation is happening across the clean energy spectrum.

Coming just a week after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the city would end coal use by 2020, and announced the same day as a decision by Basin Electric Power in South Dakota to pull plans for a new coal-fired power plant, the Intermountain Power coal plant marks a significant milestone in the shift to clean energy.

"We are witnessing a remarkable transformation toward a cleaner, healthier, more secure future," said Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. "At the beginning of the coal rush in 2001, it seemed inevitable that as many as 150 new proposed coal plants would get built. Since then we’ve seen an incredible change in the way people, businesses and governments-- like Los Angeles-- are thinking about energy, figuring out how to generate and use it more cleanly and efficiently. Coal is no longer a smart or cost-effective option.  We can create jobs and electricity through clean energy technology made in America."

For the past six years the Sierra Club and its allies have been running a hard-hitting campaign to expose the dirty truth about coal. Tremendous grassroots pressure, rising costs, and upcoming federal carbon regulations all contributed to the demise of the 100 plants. Activists with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign worked on the ground in almost every state to fight local coal plant proposals, turning out to public hearings, holding rallies and meeting with officials to push for cleaner and cheaper energy options for their area.

"I was around for the first coal plant Sierra Club tackled; against all odds and with literally only a handful of us who believed in fighting the plant. Now, only a couple of years later, there are thousands of grassroots volunteers who are helping defeat the construction of polluting coal burning plants. We are seeing a movement," said Verena Owen, volunteer chair of the Beyond Coal Campaign.

That movement has kept well over 400 million tons of harmful global warming pollution out of the air annually, making significant progress in the fight against global warming. Stopping 100 new coal plants has also kept thousands of tons of asthma-causing soot and smog pollution, as well as toxins like mercury out of our air and water.

As the new coal rush ends in many states, the Sierra Club is working to replace the existing dirty and unreliable coal plants that are large contributors to health harming soot, smog and mercury pollution with cleaner energy options that create more jobs.

"Stopping one hundred coal plants is a huge milestone in our fight to end global warming, but the coal industry is still pushing forward with plans for dozens of new plants in places, like Michigan and Kansas, and pouring money into slick advertising campaigns and lobbying efforts," said Nilles. "As we celebrate this amazing milestone, we must redouble our efforts to stop new plants and replace the existing coal plants with clean energy."

For more, visit www.sierraclub.org/100coalplants

For detailed information on clean energy job creation in other sectors visit http://www.sierraclub.org/greenjobs/numbers/default.aspx