Environmentalists Celebrate Hundreds Of Workers Losing Their Jobs As A Victory In The ‘War On Coal’

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his Sierra Club allies are celebrating the closure of three Texas coal-fired power plants, calling the laying off of hundreds of workers as a victory in the “war on coal.”

“Passing the 50 percent mark ahead of schedule — and during a week when the Trump Administration announced new efforts to subsidize the coal industry — speaks volumes about who is waging, and winning, the war on coal,” Bloomberg, an Independent, said in a statement.

“The American people, in both red and blue states, are demanding energy that is cheaper and cleaner than coal – and more and more, they are getting it,” said Bloomberg, who announced a $64 million donation to the Sierra Club’s anti-coal campaign on Wednesday.

Bloomberg has given the “Beyond Coal” campaign more than $100 million since 2011. Before that, the Sierra Club took money from natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy to attack the coal industry. Bloomberg wants his latest tranche of money to go towards closing more coal plants through litigation, lobbying and activism.

Vistra Energy announced the closure of two coal-fired power plants in early 2018. The Sandow Power Plant and Big Brown Power Plant have enough capacity to power 460,000 homes, but Vistra CEO Curt Morgan said the plants were no longer economic in an environment with low-priced natural gas and subsidized green energy.

The 650 workers at the plants and the mines that supply them will lose their jobs, the Houston Chronicle reported Friday.

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune joined Bloomberg in condemning the Texas coal plants now slated for shut down. Coal power is “an outdated and deadly source of energy for a few years longer, sickening our communities and harming our planet,” Brune said.

Just one week ago, Vistra announced the closure of the 1,800 megawatt Monticello Power Plant. The plant will close down in January 2018, meaning the company will lay off more workers. The Sierra Club celebrated Monticello’s closing as well.

The Sierra Club was involved in legal action against the Monticello plant, that is winding its way through federal court. The closing of the three power plants means more than half the U.S. coal fleet has been slated for retirement, according to activists.

President Donald Trump’s administration has tried to help the coal industry by repealing former President Barack Obama-era environmental regulations. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt signed a proposal on Tuesday to withdraw the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan aimed to cut power plant carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

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