Press & Media

America is Halfway to Moving Beyond Coal

With Luminant Energy’s Announced Closure of Two Texas plants, 262 Have Retired or Announced to Retire, With 261 Remaining

TEXAS –  Luminant Energy’s announcement to close two of the nation’s largest and dirtiest coal plants in Central Texas means that more than half of the coal plants in America have retired or committed to retire since 2010.

This watershed moment in clean air and water advocacy across the country is also a milestone for public health. Since 2010, coal retirements secured by the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign and over a hundred allied organizations have prevented 7,029 premature deaths, 10,906 heart attacks and 116,043 asthma attacks. Luminant announced this morning that it would close its two-unit Sandow Power Plant in Milam County, Texas, and its two-unit Big Brown Power Plant in Freestone County, Texas. These power plants are some of the most polluting in the country – for example, Big Brown is one of the nation’s top 5 mercury polluters.

Despite a federal administration tripping over itself to pander to a small handful of mining companies and Wall Street firms that gambled on coal, clean energy like wind and solar is rapidly replacing costly, polluting coal plants across the country as America transitions to a clean energy economy. A total of 14 coal plants have announced retirement in 2017. The country is moving away from coal faster since Trump was inaugurated than during the prior six years of the Obama Administration, and this builds on the US progress to cut more carbon pollution than any other country in the world.

With today’s announcement, 262 coal plants have either retired or announced that they will retire, with 261 plants still remaining. In addition to executing grassroots campaigns to quicken and guide this transition, Sierra Club and its partners are proactively advocating for the development of programs and policies that help displaced fossil fuel workers find good, union wage jobs in clean energy.

In response, Bruce Nilles, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, issued the following statement:

“Through grassroots pressure across every corner of this country, the American people and American businesses have spoken: we want clean energy, not dirty coal. Today’s announcement highlights that years of work in communities across America is creating a cleaner air, safer water and healthier neighborhoods. It’s time to admit that coal is done and get serious about helping the impacted workers and communities transition to new jobs and new economic opportunities. It is time to be straight with coal mining communities that coal is not coming back, despite all the hot air and fake promises emanating from Washington. Coal is a 19th century technology designed to fix 19th century problems, and we will remember today as a turning point on our path to 100 percent clean energy and solving the climate crisis.”

In response, Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, issued the following statement:

“It isn’t a question of when we replace America’s dirty, polluting coal fleet — it’s a question of how soon. We can either choose to ignore the reality that the public has chosen clean energy over coal, or we can seize the moment to shape this unstoppable transition. If we choose the first path, we’ll cling to an outdated and deadly source of energy for a few years longer, sickening our communities and harming our planet. But if we choose wisely, we will build a healthier world where clean energy and quality jobs are accessible to everyone.”

In response, Michael Bloomberg, UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change — who on Wednesday announced a renewed $64 million commitment to the Beyond Coal campaign — issued the following statement:

“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 the coal. 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.”

About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. or more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.