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New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg is giving the Sierra Club a substantial gift -- $50 million to put toward battling coal-fired power plants across the nation. The Washington Post reports that the donation will be spread out over four years, and will go straight toward the "Beyond Coal" campaign that has "helped block the construction of 153 new coal-fired power plants across the country since 2002."
But this time, instead of blocking construction of new plants, the strategy will be to figure out which are the nations oldest and worst-pollution coal power plants, get them shut down, and replace them with renewable energy. Coal-fired power plants provides about half the nation's electricity, but many groups are working hard to change that, and shift our focus toward clean, renewable, safe energy sources. And a fat $50 million check to one of the leading groups will certainly help the effort.
And here's what the Sierra Club is up against -- the Washington Post reports:
"If their program were successful, where does the Sierra Club suggest we get our energy?" asked Lisa Camooso Miller, spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, a trade group. "Coal is American. It's affordable. It adds to our quality of life."
How exactly coal can be considered patriotic is, well, ludicrous. As is the notion that it adds to our quality of life. Electricity, not coal, adds to our quality of life, and electricity can be gathered from cleaner sources than coal, sources that don't require devastation to wild habitats for its collection, nor cause devastation to humans and the climate via emissions pollution.
The Washington Post writes of the Sierra Club's use of the funds, "With Bloomberg's donation, the Sierra Club plans to expand its "Beyond Coal" staff from about 100 people to nearly 200 full-time employees, which it will deploy in 46 states. Most of the staff will engage in grass-roots organizing, but some will work on lawsuits or social networking. The group has just launched an extensive billboard advertising campaign in Washington's Metro system, with pictures of young children who are described as "filters" for power plant pollution. Ads are running on a smaller scale in Chicago and New York and in some U.S. airports."
You can listen to the story on NPR.
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