The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

David Graham-Caso

Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign Reaches Milestone in Effort to Phase Out Existing Coal-Fired Power Plants

Impressive amount of coal pollution prevented since the beginning of 2010


The Sierra Club today announced that the organization's Beyond Coal campaign has reached a significant milestone. With the retirement of Oregon's Boardman coal plant, the campaign has now phased out 30,000 megawatts of dirty coal that would have spewed roughly the same amount of carbon pollution as 36 million passenger vehicles, as well as other toxic pollution that is linked to asthma, heart disease, and birth defects. Today's announcement, when coupled with the Beyond Coal campaign's success in defeating proposals for new coal-fired power plants (the Sierra Club has played a role in the defeat of 153 coal-fired power plant proposals to date), highlights growing public opposition to dirty, polluting coal, and the coal industry's rapidly dwindling relevance in America's energy portfolio.

"Americans are standing up for their children's health by fighting the coal industry's grip on our country, plant-by-plant," said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. "Instead of wasting money on a dirty, dangerous and increasingly expensive fossil fuel, forward-thinking utilities across the country are listening to their customers and creating jobs by investing in cleaner sources of power."

As coal continues its decline, record investments in clean energy have occurred from coast to coast - creating good-paying careers and pollution-free electricity. According to a recent report titled "Sizing the Clean Energy Economy" by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, more people are employed in clean energy jobs than in the fossil fuel sector.

The most recent success story in the Sierra Club's work to protect public health and promote a clean energy economy by moving the United States beyond the use of dirty and dangerous coal-fired power comes from Oregon, where the Sierra Club and its partners today announced that they had reached a settlement that establishes a legally enforceable date for the end of coal in the state of Oregon.

In 2008, the Sierra Club, along with ally organizations including Columbia Riverkeeper, Friends of the Columbia Gorge, Hells Canyon Preservation Council (HCPC) and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center (NEDC), with legal representation from Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center (PEAC), launched a campaign to clean up the coal-fired power plant in Boardman, OR. The agreement announced today successfully concludes that campaign, in which thousands of residents from around the region called for an end to the plant's toxic pollution. As the Boardman plant was the only coal-fired power plant in Oregon, this settlement, combined with the Sierra Club's recent victory securing a phase-out date for the only coal-fired power plant in Washington State - TransAlta's Centralia facility - puts the Pacific Northwest well on its way to becoming coal-free.

"Ending coal burning in the Northwest creates more business opportunities for affordable, reliable renewable energy, which is bringing economic improvement and cleaner air and water to Oregon and Washington," said Bill Corcoran, Western Region Director for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.

Under the Boardman agreement Portland General Electric (the owner and operator of the Boardman Plant) has agreed to pay $2.5 million into a fund managed by the Oregon Community Foundation - a neutral third party organization - which will provide:

  • $1 million for habitat protection and environmental restoration in the Columbia River Gorge;
  • $625,000 for habitat protection and restoration in the Blue Mountains, Hells Canyon and Wallowa Mountains;
  • $500,000 for local clean energy projects, such as solar panels on houses; and
  • $375,000 for community-based efforts to reduce air pollution.

"Oregon is among those states showing that we can do better than the dirty business of coal," said Corcoran. "A healthier and brighter future is arriving in America."

The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone's right to a healthy world.

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