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Fighting Coal: Bloomberg Adds $30 Million to Sierra Club Campaign

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Ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has added US$30 million to the US$50 million he previously committed to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, reinforcing a plan to retire one-third of the United States’ coal-fired generating stations by 2020.

“For every 50 gigawatts of coal America takes offline, we save approximately $2.3 billion in related health care costs each year,” Bloomberg writes. “Many of coal’s defenders refer to these efforts as a ‘war on coal’—without mentioning the actual death toll. Coal is still killing 7,500 people annually. That’s 7,500 too many, but it’s down from 13,000 just four years ago,” when the Beyond Coal campaign began.

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“Not only are we on track to hit our goal ahead of schedule, creating bigger public health benefits than we anticipated, we made a major contribution to the fight against climate change,” he adds. “The price of natural gas has, of course, played an important role in that decline, but without the Beyond Coal campaign, many of the 187 coal plants would still be in use.”

News coverage of the Bloomberg-Sierra Club announcement pointed to a delightful bit of data geekery behind the plan.

“Before Michael Bloomberg would commit tens of millions of dollars to the Sierra Club’s campaign to shut down coal plants all over the United States, he wanted something: more data specifying where his money would go,” Politico Morning Energy reported [4]. “The Sierra Club’s data-driven effort now spans 45 states,” and “the ex-mayor’s aides get monthly reports detailing, down to the megawatt, which coal plants are being targeted for retirement.”