Back in 2011, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the environmental group Sierra Club $50 million to launch the “Beyond Coal” campaign, which sought to retire one-third of coal-fired power over four years and replace it with renewable energy. On Friday, Bloomberg announced that they were halfway to reaching the 105,000 megawatt goal.
The campaign retired about one coal plant a week in 2012 through public utility commission hearings, investor meetings, and taking legal action over violations of the federal Clean Air Act. The halfway point was reached last week after American Electric Power announced plans to retire coal at three Midwest plants by 2015.
“It’s safe to assume that natural gas will be part of the mix for a while,” Bloomberg told reporters. “We are better off getting off coal even if it means going back to natural gas.” Unfortunately he also supports fracking, a hot-button issue happening in the political sphere right now, but has said it should not be done near watershed locations.
Regardless, phasing out coal use is a great step and will provide more opportunity for wind, solar, and other renewables to take the lead.
Image CC licensed by Alan Stark: Coal-fired power plant, Arizona