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Chicago. Los Angeles. Austin. Asheville. Wait, what? That's right, Asheville, North Carolina, can now join the ranks of cities that have chosen to move beyond coal. On Tuesday night the city council voted UNANIMOUSLY to move the city from coal-fired electricity toward a clean energy future.

I was just in Asheville in July with my new friend Ian Somerhalder (of TV's "Vampire Diaries" fame) to speak at a rally where hundreds of people gathered to urge the city to invest in clean energy. Here's video from that rally.

And now look at the fantastic results!

This move by the city council is the right choice for clean air, clean water, and the local economy. The resolution establishes a partnership between Duke Energy - owner of Asheville's coal plant - and the city to work together in developing a plan to phase out the use of coal in western North Carolina.

Duke's coal plant in Asheville is the largest source of climate-disrupting carbon pollution in western North Carolina, which makes no sense for a city like Asheville that is a leader on clean air, clean water, and tackling climate change.

An investigation by a local riverkeeper also revealed that the coal ash ponds at the plant were leaking toxic chemicals into the French Broad River and groundwater. Coal ash is the by-product of burning coal for power, and it's full of nasty chemicals such as arsenic and lead.

"Duke's toxic coal ash problem is another reason why Asheville needs this plant phased out," said Hartwell Carson, the French Broad Riverkeeper who discovered the coal ash contamination. "The only way to permanently address toxic coal ash waste is to stop burning coal, and the city's resolution is the first step toward that goal here in Western North Carolina."

What an inspiring move, and a great model for other cities. This is an opportunity for Duke Energy to do right for its workers at the coal plant and secure a just transition for them for when the coal plant is retired. The Sierra Club and the Asheville Beyond Coal campaign strongly support transitioning in a just manner.

I'm thrilled for my friends in Asheville -- all those hundreds of people in the coalition there who helped this happed. Congrats to the Asheville Beyond Coal campaign and coalition partners the Western North Carolina Alliance and French Broad Riverkeeper, and the more than a dozen additional groups supporting the campaign.

Originally posted to DK GreenRoots on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 11:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by North Carolina BLUE, Climate Change SOS, and Climate Hawks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Hope They Can Stretch it Into Supporting (13+ / 0-)

    renewable energy generation, both concentrated and distributed.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 11:52:11 AM PDT

    •  No really big projects planned (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, SolarMom

      as yet to replace the coal plant, but that should be Duke's job anyway. Or at least partnership. There are new housing developments going in making ample use of solar, and the Biltmore Estate has a whole field of solar panels you can see from I-40 generating a chunk of its energy.

      I'd love to see some of those big 5 Mw wind turbines erected atop the vast acreage of waste landfill from the Canton paper mill east of A-ville. There are many individual households out and about in the several-county area that are installing solar and micro-hydro, many new larger homes (usually timber/whole log) come with solar and brag about energy efficiency with passive solar and earth berming.

      Duke's energy isn't cheap, and it's not scheduled to be getting any cheaper, what with the guaranteed rate of return on its older and planned nukes. We get to pay through the nose, Canada will get the electricity. Because Duke doesn't need it for its customer base - demand is actually falling.

  •  Great news! (5+ / 0-)

    Wow, I didn't expect this at all. It will give me a smile all day.
    Thanks for letting us know!

  •  How would they replace it? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    orange dog, PeterHug, Bronx59, SolarMom

    First let me say that I grew up in Asheville.  My father was a union leader at the ENKA plant when it still produced rayon and nylon and I got to walk the picket line with him when they went on strike in the 60s, although I don't remember the year. So I have pure blue blood running through my 65 yo veins  and my family still lives there so I want to express my great joy at what a wonderful progressive city it's grown up to be.  Of course Asheville has always been more progress than most of the state but what you all are doing amazes me.  

    I'm curious how they plan to replace coal is the energy source.  You're tapped out on hydro and oil doesn't seem like a likely substitute.  

    A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

    by YellerDog on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 01:56:20 PM PDT

    •  Probably a mixture of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      I'm curious how they plan to replace coal as the energy source.  You're tapped out on hydro and oil doesn't seem like a likely substitute.
      efficiency to limit demand plus rooftop and brownfield solar and wind.  Micro-hydro in local creeks is a possiblity also.  Micro-hydro diverts only a fraction of the creek's flow so it doesn't disturb the ecology of the stream.  Each installation only generates a few kW, but put in a bunch of them and it adds up.  

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

      by Calamity Jean on Sun Oct 27, 2013 at 10:32:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fantastic. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    orange dog, KayCeSF, SolarMom

    Asheville is a Democrat stronghold, with a long tradition of being literary and somewhat arty. One of the few truly Liberal cities in North Carolina, so it's logical that such a move would happen there.

    Good for them. From the trend of articles that have appeared over the last year it looks like coal is in a serious downward slide, and we're all better for it.

    North Carolina, as most readers probably know, was taken over by a far-right multi-millionaiare named Art Pope

    Pope owns a large number of retail stores, and much of the merchandise he sells is from Communist China. By selling that stuff rather than American made items, it seems to me that he's taking American jobs and sending them to Communist China. Then he takes his millions of dollars in profit and undermines democracy and freedom in America, after taking over the North Carolina legislature.

    Republican politicians have taken away Asheville's airport, as I understand it, and I've been told that they tried (and perhaps did; I didn't follow it closely) to take away Asheville's control over it's own water supply.

    Not a nice group of people. Nor a moral group of people.

    The move from coal sounds like a good one. Best of luck with it.

    A Southerner in Yankeeland

    To save your life and our country, read "Pity The Billionaire" by Thomas Frank, and "Winner-Take-All-Politics" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. Then read more books.

    by A Southerner in Yankeeland on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 02:26:56 PM PDT

    •  Apology (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KayCeSF, PeterHug, Bronx59, SolarMom

      Asheville is a Democratic stronghold. I used "Democrat", which is the Republican spin on the Democratic Party's name.

      I think living in a place where virtually everyone I know says "Democrat Party" made it work its way into my fingers and, hence, the keyboard.

      Which illustrates how difficult it is to resist the dominant section of the culture in which you live.

      A good reminder to strengthen the ol' resolve on a minute to minute basis.


      To save your life and our country, read "Pity The Billionaire" by Thomas Frank, and "Winner-Take-All-Politics" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. Then read more books.

      by A Southerner in Yankeeland on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 03:15:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great news! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    North Carolina needs positive news right now!  Thanks to Asheville!!!!

    I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

    by KayCeSF on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 03:41:09 PM PDT

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