Big News for Our Friends at Sierra Club!
Peter Wilk, MD
July 21, 2011
Earlier this morning I had the privilege of joining in celebration of a remarkable announcement: a $50 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies to dramatically expand the Sierra Club-led Beyond Coal campaign.
In a dramatic setting on a boat on the Potomac River, in front of an aging and pollution-spewing coal plant, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled his personal commitment to improving the public’s health through support of the Beyond Coal campaign. With his extremely generous support, this multi-year campaign aims shut down the oldest, dirtiest coal plants throughout the country.
On behalf of PSR, I want to congratulate Mayor Bloomberg, Sierra Club director Mike Brune, and all the Sierra Club leaders and activists engaged in this campaign for the boldness of their vision. As Mike observed: “When a Republican billionaire joins forces with the Sierra Club to end the dominance of coal in the U.S., you know it's an idea whose time has come!”
Mary Ann Hitt, director of the Beyond Coal campaign, spoke emotionally of the catastrophic health impacts of mining and burning coal and disposing of the tons of coal ash produced every day in this country.
Illnesses, Deaths are Unacceptable
On this blazingly hot summer day, as I listened to their remarks, my thoughts inevitably turned to both coal’s direct health consequences (heart disease, cancer, stroke and chronic lower respiratory disease) and the long-term worsening of climate change, with all its dire effects. The resulting huge number of unnecessary illnesses and premature deaths is simply unacceptable.
The Beyond Coal campaign has been amazingly successful, preventing construction of over 150 new coal plants, and PSR is proud to have been a part of those efforts. Now, the Sierra Club plans to retire at least a third of the coal plants across the country and replace them with clean energy as quickly as possible. As Mike Brune put it, “We'll do this by working with community organizations that don't want dirty coal plants in their backyard and with clean tech entrepreneurs who know that solar and wind produce more domestic jobs, cut costs, help stabilize our climate, and clean up our air and water.”
PSR, with our powerful health message and equally powerful health messengers, looks forward to continuing our collaboration with the Sierra Club and this health-protective, forward-looking campaign!