Bloomberg Philanthropies brings ‘Beyond Coal’ investment total to $80 million – by Sarah Tincher (The State Journal – April 8, 2015) [West Virginia Business Newspaper]

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced it will invest an additional $30 million in the Sierra Club, following a previous $50 million commitment, to secure the replacement of half the nation’s coal fleet by 2017 with clean energy. Sierra Club said it expects the investment in the Beyond Coal campaign to put the United States in a stronger position to drive more ambitious climate action at the 2015 United Nations climate change conference in Paris.

“The single biggest reduction in carbon pollution in the U.S. has come by retiring and repurposing coal-fired power plants — and that’s the direct result of our Beyond Coal campaign,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “Thanks to the community leaders who have spearheaded this work, the U.S. led every industrialized nation in reducing carbon emissions last year.”

National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn, however, released a statement calling the donation and coalition a “campaign to shut down affordable sources of electricity generation.”

“Policies favored by the Sierra Club have already destroyed large portions of the nation’s most reliable sources of electricity generation, leaving consumers more dependent on fewer and costlier sources of electricity and a less reliable supply, leaving tens of thousands of Americans without jobs and low-income families plus those on fixed incomes with still higher bills to pay,” Quinn stated. “There is no reason to celebrate raising costs for society’s most vulnerable.

“As pending regulations on carbon emissions shutter more power plants, studies have estimated America’s consumers could be paying an additional $366 billion to $407 billion,” he added.

Bloomberg also said it will lead a coalition of funders that aim to match up to $30 million in grants, further boosting the Sierra Club’s capacity toward clean energy use.

The funder coalition of individual donors, family foundations and major philanthropic organizations includes the Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Yellow Chair Foundation, the Grantham Foundation and the Sandler Family Foundation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies began funding the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in 2011 with a goal to phase out one third of the nation’s coal plants, beginning with the oldest and dirtiest units, and replacing the retiring coal fleet with cleaner energy sources, reducing toxic mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2020, the Sierra Club stated.

The initial $50 million grant was used to expand the Sierra Club’s campaign to 45 states from 15, enforcing state and federal environmental laws and helping communities impacted by coal mining and coal plants to make the clean energy transition and address concerns left from closing coal plants, according to the Sierra Club.

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