Bloomberg Donates $50 Million to Shut Down US Coal Plants

Michael Bloomberg, New York City’s billionaire mayor, announced he would donate $50 million to help the Sierra Club in its campaign to shut down all US coal plants.

Bloomberg Philanthropies will donate the money over four years to the Sierra Club’s successful Beyond Coal Campaign, which has so far blocked construction of 153 new coal plants through grassroots organizing and litigation.

He said he hopes the donation will help retire a third of the oldest coal plants in the US by 2020.

"If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal. Ending coal power production is the right thing to do, because, while it may seem to be an inexpensive energy source, the impact on our environment and the impact on public health is significant," says Bloomberg. "Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to our water, and the leading cause of climate disruption."

The $50 million grant will fill a significant portion of the campaign’s projected $150 million four-year budget and help increase the number of campaign states from 15 to 45.

It is also expected to increase Sierra Club’s active member and supporter base from 1.4 million to 2.4 million people and double the size of full-time Sierra Club staff working on the campaign from 100 to 200.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune thanked Bloomberg for the grant, calling it a "game changer" in the fight against coal.

"Coal relentlessly dirties our water, air, and lungs and fixing the problem cannot be left to Washington," Brune says. "Nor can coal’s contributions to climate disruption be left to international bodies. Mike Bloomberg’s strong clean air agenda as Mayor of New York, and his Chairmanship of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, shows that he understands that actions are being taken, and that the most significant ongoing successes will be won city by city, by dedicated people across America."

In the U.S., coal is the leading cause of greenhouse-gas emissions, and coal’s pollution contributes to four out of the five leading causes of mortality – heart disease, cancer, stroke, and respiratory illness.

Coal emits almost half of all U.S. mercury pollution, which causes developmental problems in babies and young children, as well as being a major contributor to asthma attacks. Coal pollution causes $100 billion in health costs annually.

In June, Bloomberg pledged $20 million over three years to C40, which he chairs, through which the world’s cities are addressing climate change. He is also known for his visionary PlaNYC, a comprehensive sustainability plan for NYC. Use our search engine to find our coverage of Bloomberg and PlaNYC.

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