Former Rainforest Action Network Director Mike Brune has begun his tenure at the Sierra Club, the country's most effective campaigning organization on coal. Brune has a strong background taking on the country's biggest polluters and now he joins a team already taking the wood to the country's biggest polluting industry, coal. On his first day, Brune sent out an email to his supporters laying out his priorities. Taking out Big Coal is Number 1. Writes Brune:
Shut Down Big Coal -- the Sierra Club and a diverse, bottoms-up network of grassroots community groups has stopped the construction of more than 115 coal-fired power plants, and we'll continue to fight the remaining coal plants still on the drawing boards. It's a good start to a much more ambitious project. Over the next twenty years, Sierra Club staff, volunteers, and our allies across the country will work to retire the existing fleet of more than 500 dirty coal plants and replace them with the efficient use of clean, renewable energy resources. Coal is the top source of greenhouse gas emissions and mercury poisoning, and according to Physicians for Social Responsibility contributes to four of the five leading causes of death in the United States. Putting Big Coal in America's rearview mirror will create more jobs, make Americans healthier, and is the single most effective thing we can do to fight global warming. Let's shut down Big Coal in this generation.
That is inspiring stuff. NASA's James Hansen, among others, has said that if we are to stop climate change we must phase out the use of coal, which accounts for about 45 percent of our energy, but its share in the grid is declining. The Club has stopped over 100 new plants from being built over the past 10 years and now it seems they are setting their sites on existing plants.
They can start with the old ones. By 2025, over 90 percent of the nation's coal fleet will be over 40 years old. many of these old plants lack new technology to make them cleaner. Instead of updating them to make them a little less dirty and toxic, grassroots efforts, with the help of the Sierra Club it seems, are campaigning to shut them down.