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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week, we secured an important victory for public health when a federal court approved a timeline and framework for protecting Americans from an especially harmful type of air pollution. Sulfur dioxide pollution is a dangerous air pollutant -- so much so, that even short term exposure for as little as five minutes is associated with breathing problems like asthma attacks, particularly among vulnerable populations such as the elderly and asthmatics. And the medical community has established connections between chronic exposure and even more serious conditions, such as aggravation of cardiac conditions, hospitalization, and even premature death.
The students live in a county with some of the worst air pollution in America, and one after another, they shared their personal stories, many noting they made the trip to speak for their family member who suffers from asthma or other smog related ailments. Their stories left audience members and EPA staff alike visibly shaken, choked up and teary-eyed.
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