Tags: Climate Change | Global Warming | Michael Bloomberg | coal | Sierra Club | 30 million

Bloomberg Throws Another $30 Million at Anti-Coal Fight

By    |   Wednesday, 08 Apr 2015 12:48 PM

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is chipping in another $30 million toward the Sierra Club just as the group takes aim at the largest campaign in its history: the fight to retire coal-fired power plants.

"It will help us continue to run the largest campaign in the Sierra Club's history and we think one of the most important in our history," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune told the National Journal.

The billionaire philanthropist's gift comes on the heels of a four-year, $50 million pledge he made in 2011, according to an announcement he and the Sierra Club made Wednesday.

"Every time we retire a coal plant and replace it with clean energy, that means we are cutting carbon, cutting air and water pollution, increasing the amount of clean energy on the grid and increasing the amount of jobs at the same time," Bloomberg said while announcing the gift and saying he's trying to bring in another $30 million from other foundations and donors.

Some of the groups named as select funders will include the Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Yellow Chair Foundation, the Grantham Foundation, and the Sandler Family Foundation, said a joint announcement from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Sierra Club.

"Thanks to the community leaders who have spearheaded this work, the U.S. led every industrialized nation in reducing carbon emissions last year," said Bloomberg. "But much more work remains, and today we are doubling down on what has proven to be an incredibly successful strategy for improving public health and fighting climate change."

The Sierra Club and other coal opponents, though, are facing strong opposition for their support for the Environmental Protection Agency's mandates. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, from the coal-strong state of Kentucky, is leading a campaign to urge states to reject carbon emission rules, and has the backing of not only fellow Republicans, but also some coal-state Democrats and major business groups.

In a letter  last month to the National Governors Association, McConnell said that the EPA's proposed "Clean Power Plan," a new Obama administration regulation that calls for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions from existing power plants by 2030 (from 2005 levels) through federally enforceable state plans submitted to the EPA, should be carefully reviewed by states involved.

"This proposed plan is already on shaky legal grounds, will be extremely burdensome and costly, and will not seriously address the global environmental concerns that are frequently raised to justify it," McConnell said. "I have serious legal and policy concerns regarding this proposal."

The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal initiative now has a goal of closing half of the power plants in the United States by 2017, reports Politico. 

Whereas before it wanted to retire just one-third of the plants by 2020, the group said its goal has been revised to reflect market conditions that are affecting the coal industry.

According to the campaign, 187 coal-fired plants have either been retired or repurposed since 2010, and there are still 336 plants to go for the initial goal to be reached.

In the past, the National Journal reports, more than half the power in the United States came from coal, but over the last decades, renewable sources and the natural gas boom have combined to replace coal. Last year, according to the federal Energy Information Administration, coal supplied just 39 percent of the power.

The EPA will also cut more into the coal industry, with emission standards to reduce coal to source just 30 percent of the country's power generating needs, and the Sierra Club hopes that eventually, renewable sources such as solar and wind power will take the place even of natural gas.

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Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is chipping in another $30 million toward the Sierra Club just as the group takes aim at the largest campaign in its history: the fight to retire coal-fired power plants.
Michael Bloomberg, coal, Sierra Club, 30 million
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Wednesday, 08 Apr 2015 12:48 PM
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