As of today, 100 coal plants have been defeated or abandoned since the beginning of the coal rush, including Westward Energy’s Columbia River Clean Energy Center in Oregon, and power agreements among Oregon utilities for plants in Utah and Washington. In their place, a smart mix of clean energy solutions like energy efficiency, wind, solar and geothermal has stepped up to meet America’s energy needs. Last year 42 percent of all new power producing capacity came from wind, and for the first time the wind industry created more jobs than mining coal.
Coming just a week after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the city would end coal use by 2020, the Intermountain Power coal plant in Utah became the 100th prevented coal plant. The decision marks a significant milestone in the shift to clean energy.
For the past six years the Sierra Club and its allies have been running a hard-hitting campaign to expose the dirty truth about coal. Tremendous grassroots pressure, rising costs, and upcoming federal carbon regulations all contributed to the demise of the 100 plants.
“We’re clearly shifting toward a cleaner, healthier, more secure future, and by ending the new coal rush here in Oregon we are leading the way,” said Cesia Kearns, Sierra Club Organizer. “But to truly reap the benefits of a clean energy economy Oregon needs to start replacing our old, dirty coal power with renewable energy, and we’re looking to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council to realize that as they develop their 6th plan for the region.”
As the new coal rush ends in many states, the Sierra Club is working to replace existing dirty and unreliable coal plants, like the Boardman coal plant that are large contributors to health harming soot, smog and mercury pollution, with cleaner energy options that create more jobs. One exciting local opportunity that will impact Oregon’s energy future is a decision before the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NWPCC), which will be meeting in Portland next week. Every 5 years, the NWPCC develops and revisits a 20 year plan for how electricity is managed regionally across Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho. The Council could include a scenario phasing out coal-fired power in the development of their 6th plan, the theme of which is “Climate Change”.
“The community opposition to the Boardman coal plant here is just one part of a growing nationwide movement,” said Kearns. “It’s clear that the American people are ready for a switch to the clean energy technologies that can help repower our economy. We need decision-makers like the NWPCC to act on this desire, and build the new economy.”
Currently, the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Oregon is seeking to make Oregon America’s first renewable energy state by phasing out the Boardman Coal plant and ending all power purchase agreements with coal from other states. Oregon relies on coal for nearly 41% of its energy mix and half of that is supplied by Portland General Electric’s (PGE) Boardman Coal plant which emits 5 million tons of global warming pollution every year, along with harmful levels of soot and smog pollution, which can worsen asthma and cause other respiratory illnesses.
“The coal industry, including PGE, is working hard to keep dirty coal a part of Oregon’s energy mix. “The proverbial writing is on the wall – Americans no longer want to rely on polluting fossil fuels for their energy,” said Robin Everett, Sierra Club Organizer. “Instead of relying on antiquated, 19th century technology, PGE should shut down the Boardman Coal plant and end all imports of coal into Oregon and truly move us into a clean energy future.”