Former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg said today he would give half a billion dollars in effort to close all coal fired US electric plants and promote renewable energy.
The effort, named Beyond Carbon, will focus on local and state governments since the federal government headed by Donald Trump wants to increase coal use. Though spread over several years, the amount of money involved could be very helpful to environmental friendly candidates running for state legislatures and other offices.
A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg said most of the money would be spent over the next three years, though the time frame could be extended. It will fund lobbying efforts by environmental groups — in state legislatures, City Councils and public utility commissions — that aim to close coal plants and replace them with wind, solar and other renewable power. Part of the cash also will go toward efforts to elect local lawmakers who prioritize clean energy.
The article in the New York Times reports that about 240 US coal plants have closed or have announced their closure since 2010, a trend caused by economics. Falling prices for wind and solar installations as well as lower natural gas prices have caused a shift away from coal. This, of course, pleases those worried about climate change. Since Trump’s election in 2016, 51 coal plants have been scheduled for retirement.
About 280 coal fired electricity plants remain in the US, but these are ones that have lower costs and are more likely to remain open and continue burning coal. The Beyond Coal campaign aims to close all of them by 2030 and avoid their replacement by natural gas plants.
“We’re in a race against time with climate change, and yet there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we,” said Mr. Bloomberg. “Beyond Carbon will respond to this crisis with the urgency and ambition that it requires, by taking the fight to the states and turbo-charging current on-the-ground efforts. We will employ the same advocacy, legal, and electoral strategies that have proven so successful in retiring coal-fired power plants – which we have continued to close at the same fast rate under this administration as we did under the previous one – and also in passing gun safety background check laws in states around the country. This campaign will ensure that after the 2020 election, the next Administration inherits a country on its way to a 100 percent clean energy economy.”