The Sierra Club has announced a partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies that the environmental group says will effectively retire one-third of the nation's aging coal fleet by 2020, replacing it with clean energy.
The partnership includes a $50 million commitment over four years to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, which aims to clean the air and accelerate the transition to cleaner energy sources.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune was joined for the announcement today by Michael R. Bloomberg, head of Bloomberg Philanthropies and mayor of New York. They appeared outside of a coal-fired plant in Alexandria, Va.
‘If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal,’ said Bloomberg. ‘Ending coal power production is the right thing to do, because while it may seem to be an inexpensive energy source, the impact on our environment and the impact on public health is significant.’
The $50 million grant will fill a large portion of the campaign's projected $150 million four-year budget and will have a significant impact in advancing the efforts of the Beyond Coal campaign, according to the Sierra Club.
The partnership will play a key role in helping the Sierra Club achieve its goals of cutting 30% of coal production, reducing mercury pollution by 90% and replacing a majority of coal with clean energy by 2020.
Studies show that replacing coal's pollution with clean energy is possible. As coal prices are going up, wind and solar prices are falling. Iowa already gets more than 15% of its energy from wind power, and the City of San Antonio recently decided to replace one of its coal plants with over 400 MW of solar power. Meanwhile, the green job sector is growing, with the wind industry providing more jobs in the U.S. than is the coal industry, according to the Sierra Club.