The Sierra Club ‘Stopping the Coal Rush’

by Milan on March 22, 2010

in Activism, Climate change, Power plants

One of North America’s most informative websites on anti-coal activism is the Beyond Coal campaign being run by the Sierra Club. Unfortunately, it only includes the United States, but it has information on mountaintop removal mining and coal-to-liquids, as well as status information about proposed coal plants across the country.

It is startling to see proposed coal plants listed in Texas, North Carolina, Utah, and Illinois – all of which will produce more than nine million tonnes per year of CO2 emissions. If we are to have a decent shot of avoiding more than 2°C of warming, we simply cannot be allowing new coal-fired facilities in developed countries. Indeed, we will need to phase out the ones that are operating now before the end of their lifetimes. The gap between what climate science tells us must be done and what is actually happening on the ground is wider than ever.

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. March 23, 2010 at 11:10 am

“By the Sierra Club’s count, some 126 proposed new plants have been stopped in their tracks since 2001. There’s a great searchable list of coal plants that have been proposed across the U.S. here.

The Sierra Club’s success in defeating new coal plants is just one of many victories against Big Coal noted by Ted Nace in a recent post over on Grist. Nace certainly knows what he’s talking about, having written a book, Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal, all about “the organizing methods and political tactics that enabled underdog activists in state after state to take on and defeat Big Coal, one of the most politically dominant industries in America.”

The conclusion Nace has reached is that a multifaceted movement targeting coal is the only way to phase out the use of this supremely dirty fossil fuel. What I found most interesting was his discussion of the work various groups are doing to take the movement to the next level: from stopping proposed plants to shutting down existing ones. This little fact really caught my eye: “Almost 90 percent of existing coal-fired generating capacity dates from before 1985, which means that if we simply instituted a policy of retiring coal plants at age 40, we’d be 90 percent of the way to the zero-coal goal by 2025.””

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