Energy

Former Mayor Bloomberg Plans ‘New Investment’ In The Sierra Club’s Anti-Coal Campaign

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg will increase his commitment to an environmentalist campaign to shutter coal-fired power plants across the country as part of his campaign against global warming.

The former mayor will announce a “new investment in programs dedicated to retiring coal plants,” his representative told Axios on Wednesday. Bloomberg’s “new investment” is in response to the Trump administration’s plan to repeal the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s climate plan.

The billionaire Independent will make the announcement at the Sierra Club’s headquarters Wednesday morning, Politico reports. Bloomberg has given $80 million to the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign since 2011. He’s expected to increase his commitment to the group.

Bloomberg’s announcement comes the day after Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposal to withdraw an Obama-era regulation meant to close coal plants.

Pruitt declared the “war on coal is over” in a speech before signing the proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to cut power plant carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Experts don’t expect the CPP’s repeal to have much effect in the short-run, given that utilities have already planned to close coal plants, but environmentalists worry the repeal allows the U.S. to use more coal in the future and worsen global warming.

Bloomberg supports efforts to fight global warming and is one of the pointmen of local and state leaders “resisting” President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

Experts say it’s unlikely the U.S. will meet the Obama administration’s Paris pledge without the CPP. President Barack Obama pledged to cut U.S. emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The Sierra Club started taking money from Bloomberg after it came to light the anti-fossil fuel group had taken money from natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy to attack the coal industry.

The Beyond Coal campaign goal is to retire “one-third of the nation’s more than 500 coal plants by 2020,” according to its website.

The campaign also aims to replace “the majority of retired coal plants with clean energy solutions such as wind, solar, and geothermal, and keep “coal in the ground in places like Appalachia and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.”

Sierra Club campaigners claim 259 coal plants have been shut down or slated for retirements, only three short of half the U.S. coal fleet.

The Monticello coal plant in Texas is the latest victim in the coal industry’s downturn. Plant operators will retire Monticello’s three coal-fired generators in January, citing pressure from cheap natural gas.

The Sierra Club claimed its own advocacy contributed to Monticello’s closure. The Club sued to have the plant “designated as violating health-based air quality safeguards for dangerous sulfur dioxide,” according to a release.

The Club’s case against Monticello is still pending in federal court, but the group also said it’s involved in “numerous other legal matters related to the Monticello coal plant.”

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