Coal in twilight during landmark year: environmentalists

THE holiday celebrations are continuing for the Sierra Club environmental group, which has called 2013 a “momentous” year for its clean energy efforts, marking a huge setback year for the coal industry.
Coal in twilight during landmark year: environmentalists Coal in twilight during landmark year: environmentalists Coal in twilight during landmark year: environmentalists Coal in twilight during landmark year: environmentalists Coal in twilight during landmark year: environmentalists

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Donna Schmidt

The group said that according to its information, solar and wind generation hit record highs and prices fell, all while getting an increased market share from coal.

It said the installation of renewable energy capacity also exceeded the combined efforts of coal, oil and nuclear growth.

The Sierra Club reiterated that on the coal side, 30% of plants nationwide were slated for closure – 158 total facilities, or about 20% of the nation’s power that comes from coal.

More significantly, there has not been one single coal plant break ground in the US in three years.

Large campaign investor Michael Bloomberg – who also serves as the mayor of New York City – said the environmental circle had a lot to celebrate and a lot of work remained to be done.

“Coal use is down in almost every region of the country and carbon pollution is at its lowest level in almost two decades,” he said.

Taking a more direct stab at coal’s back, however, was Beyond Coal campaign senior director Bruce Nilles.

“Now, more than ever, it’s clear that it is twilight for coal in the United States … 2013 was the year that clean energy became cheaper than coal,” he said.

“Add in that no one is building new coal plants and the only remaining question is how quickly can we replace the remaining coal plants.”

The Sierra Club has been open in its goal of taking the US “off coal” by 2030 and said thousands of its members were present at Environmental Protection Agency meetings throughout the year to “protect the public” while more than 10,000 personally opposed Pacific Northwest coal exporting.

It also boasted the closure or pending closure of 39 existing coal plants in the nation this year.

The idles equal about 22,164 megawatts combined.

“The big winners in 2013 are the families who can now breathe more easily as more clean energy powers their homes and communities,” group volunteer co-leader Verena Owen said.

“People are standing up to say no to outdated, dangerous fossil fuels and to say that we can power our homes with modern, clean solutions that also create hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

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