U.S. phases out 200th coal plant as momentum for renewable energy grows

The Sierra Club: Alliant Energy, a major Iowa utility, has committed to phase out coal use at six of its plants in the state, marking the 200th coal plant to shut down in the United States. This marks a milestone in the country’s transition to clean energy and underscores Iowa’s growth as a clean energy state. The announced coal plant retirements are the result of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign advocacy, which has been a driving force in the national transition to renewable sources of power. The retirement of 200 coal plants nationwide represents the phase out of nearly 40 percent of the 523 U.S. coal plants that were in operation just five years ago. The work of Sierra Club and more than 100 allied organizations to retire these plants and replace them with clean energy has enabled the United States to lead the industrialized world in cutting global warming pollution, and has put the White House on firm footing to push for a strong international climate accord in Paris at the end of this year.

“The days of coal-fired power plants putting Americans at risk are coming to an end,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “In Iowa and across the country, people are demanding clean air and clean water—and they are winning. Iowa is a leader in America’s transition from coal to renewable energy, and is providing a model for other communities as they demand and realize a 100 percent clean energy future.”

Today’s landmark settlement requires Alliant to phase out coal use or install pollution controls at all eight of its coal-fired power plants to comply with the Clean Air Act. The plants were emitting more pollution than was allowed by the company’s air permits, contributing to an estimated 32 deaths and 541 asthma attacks annually, and costing local residents $15.3 million in healthcare bills each year according to plant-level 2010 estimates by Clean Air Task Force (CATF). [Continue reading…]

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