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Suzie Canales never planned on going back home. But, when she saw what was happening to her family, her friends, and her neighbors in her community, she could not stay away.

In 1999, Suzie visited Corpus Christi from Illinois at a time of tragedy. Her sister Diana had passed away at the age of 42 due to breast cancer, and she was back in Texas for the funeral. As she explained to CleanHouston.org, it was there that she heard people repeatedly tell her that many others in the area around her sister’s age also faced cancer, prompting Canales to begin to question whether or not, in a community home to industrial facilities like refineries and power plants, something in the local environment could have contributed to her sister’s death and the deaths of so many others.

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This week I want to honor some of the most hard-working activists on our Beyond Coal campaign - Team Asheville in North Carolina. After years of rallies, public meetings, educational forums, leadership from the Asheville City council,  letter-writing, and even a visit from TV star Ian Somerhalder, on Tuesday, all that hard work paid off. Duke Energy announced it will retire its filthy Asheville coal plant, the 190th plant to announce retirement during the Beyond Coal campaign.

While Duke is unfortunately ignoring Asheville residents' demands of replacing it entirely with clean energy (Duke plans to replace the plant with natural gas), these tireless activists can still claim a victory to be proud of - winning a reprieve for the French Broad river from coal ash, eliminating the region's biggest source of air and climate pollution, and a making a strong show of grassroots power that held one of the nation’s most powerful companies accountable.  

"Duke's announcement to retire the coal plant came with the unwelcome news of a new gas plant, which of course is not the vision we hold for a clean energy economy here in North Carolina," said Kelly Martin of Asheville Beyond Coal. "We claimed our victory, but stayed honest about the outcome. At least now there is an end in sight to the coal ash pollution, the sulfur dioxide pollution, and the carbon pollution from this plant."

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Otto Braided Hair speaks at a press conference against coal exports. He is a traditional leader from the Northern Cheyenne and does not represent the tribal government.
"We collectively stand together to protect what we love; the earth is a part of who we are."

So said Reuben George, Ceremonial Sundance Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation at a press conference this week, during a historic gathering where tribes from Montana, Washington and British Columbia stood together to oppose North America's largest coal export terminal. That's George in the blue shirt, above, listening to Otto Braided Hair of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

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The following guest post is an open letter to Detroit-based utility company DTE Energy, which is having its annual shareholder meeting this week. The letter was authored by Alisha Winters, a mother and community leader in River Rouge, Michigan, home to one of the DTE coal plants that contribute 85 percent of the sulfur dioxide pollution in Wayne County I met Alisha when I visited her community earlier this year, and I’m excited to share her letter with you. Her letter couldn’t be more timely - the American Lung Association just gave Wayne County a grade of 'F' in its newly released 2015 "State of the Air" report.

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Spring time means baseball season for so many - a nice evening out at the ballpark with a hot dog, peanuts, and a cold beverage. We all love a homerun, except when it's against our team, of course. So we here at the Sierra Club decided to mix baseball and politics to make it clear just who's playing on the polluters' team and who's on the side of clean air and clean water protections.
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Deepwater Wind employees assemble pieces of the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island.
Today, the U.S. took another big step in the transition beyond coal to a clean energy, as the nation's first offshore wind project broke ground.

Block Island calls itself the "Last Great Place," but this small island 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island is first in the hearts of environmentalists and clean energy advocates across the nation today. Big things are happening just off the shore of that little island. That’s where Deepwater Wind has started construction on America's first-ever offshore wind project.

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Mary Anne Hitt testifying with a very tiny Hazel.
Thousands of parents across the U.S. today are taking part in the annual "Take Your Child to Work Day." It's a great chance to show our sons and daughters just what we're up to every day while they're at school (or while they’re home, if you work evenings), and maybe even to inspire them to start thinking about careers of their own.

I normally work from a small office, so keeping my four-year-old daughter Hazel with me all day as I work on my laptop might bore her to tears -- but she's come with me to other events many times in her short life. She's helped me testify at public hearings, stood with me at rallies, and even joined a conference or two.

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Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 10:43 AM PDT

Spartans Move Beyond Coal

by Mary Anne Hitt

On the heels of last week's fantastic Bloomberg Philanthropies and Beyond Coal announcement came some news from Michigan demonstrating once again how powerful our activists are.

Michigan State University announced that it will retire the largest on-campus coal plant in the U.S. by 2016 -- making it the 188th coal plant announced for retirement since the Beyond Coal campaign started in 2010. Indeed it is the tireless, years-long work by student activists with the MSU Sierra Student Coalition and Greenpeace who helped make this happen.

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Today, I had the honor of standing with Michael Bloomberg and dozens of Sierra Club volunteers, staff, and supporters in Washington, DC, to announce a new round of investment by Bloomberg Philanthropies in the work of the Beyond Coal Campaign. With this new support of $30 million over three years, we plan to double down on our past success and secure replacement of half the nation's coal plants with clean energy by 2017.

It's been four years since I first stood with Michael Bloomberg, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, and our staff and volunteers in front of the polluting GenOn coal plant in Alexandria, Virginia, to announce the launch of our game-changing partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies. The goal of that first round of funding: replace one-third of the nation's coal plants with clean energy by the end of 2015.

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Clean energy lovers cover the front steps of the State Capitol in Salem, Oregon.
On Tuesday, more than 200 leaders from the public health, academic, business, and environmental community traveled to Salem, Oregon, to rally and hold lobby meetings with legislators on this session's top environmental bills as part of the Oregon Conservation Network's Clean Green Lobby Machine lobby day.
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Today, the Supreme Court will hear polluter arguments against the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) vital Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), a long-overdue protection finalized in 2012 that will help guard our families, air, water, and wildlife from dangerous toxic pollution that comes from coal plants. These vital protections are critically important to public health, and the polluters challenging them are putting lives at risk.

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Co-written by Nicole Ghio, campaign representative of the Sierra Club's International Climate Program.

Today, the Sierra Club and CoalSwarm, keeper of the global coal plant tracker database, released a comprehensive report on the global coal pipeline -- and the news is big. The global boom in coal-fired power plant construction is going bust.

Since 2010, for every coal plant completed worldwide, two proposed coal plants have been shelved or cancelled. We have known for a while that the coal industry was facing serious headwinds  -- even banks like Citi and Goldman Sachs have been warning of coal’s impending decline -- but the scale of project failure should be a wake-up call to anyone who still thinks the coal industry's salvation lies in a 21st century global coal boom.

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