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Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Michael Bloomberg Gives Millions To Anti Coal Campaign

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a partnership with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign on July 21 which included a $50 million contribution (over four years). The $50 million grant will a big part of the campaign's projected $150 million four-year budget, according to a press release on Mayor Bloomberg's website.

The Beyond Coal Campaign urges supporters to take a pledge to move "beyond coal."  The burning of coal for electricity is the biggest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. and creates almost half of all mercury pollution. According to the campaign, coal pollution causes $100 billion in health costs a year. The campaign's goals include reducing coal production by 30 percent by 2020 and resultant mercury pollution by 90 percent by 2020. In addition, the campaign wants the majority of coal-fired plants to be replaced with clean energy.

Bloomberg's donation will help increase the number of states the campaign operates in from 15 to 45. It will also help increase the active member base from 1.4 million to 2.4 million people.

The Beyond Coal campaign, which began in 2002, has helped stop 153 new coal-fired plants from being built. Other successes the Campaign touts include:

  • Almost a dozen current coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be retired

  • New permits for mountaintop removal have slowed to a trickle

"Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to our water, and is the leading cause of climate disruption," Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg added that he supports the Beyond Coal campaign because of its success "in stopping more than 150 new coal-fired power plants over the past few years, and is empowering local communities to lead from the front while Congress continues to watch from the back."

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said that Bloomberg's partnership "will help the Sierra Club to work with communities nationwide as they tell one coal plant after another that inflicting asthma and other diseases on their children is unacceptable and that they will not accept coal pollution in their neighborhoods."

Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Beyond Coal Campaign, said that the Sierra Club is "ready to take this campaign to a whole new level."

RAN campaign against mountaintop removal mining financing

Sierra Club is not the only environmental group with an anti-coal campaign. The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) began a campaign in 2007 that urged Bank of America (BoFA) to stop financing mountaintop removal (MTR) mining. At the time, BoFA was the top financer of MTR coal mining companies. RAN extended the campaign to all the largest banks in the U.S.

The campaign brought results. By 2010, BoFA, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley passed policies which limited the financing of coal companies practicing MTR mining,

“Money talks – and it is saying loud and clear that mountaintop removal coal mining is a bad investment. With the move away from mountaintop removal coal mining, our country’s top banks are showing that they know they can do well while doing good for our environment and our public health,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, executive director of RAN.

Photo: Flickr user, Paul Jerry

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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