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TO ALL MEDIA
For immediate release
Feb. 3, 2011
Craig Benjamin, Environmental Priorities Coalition, (206) 713-6204
Marc Krasnowsky, NW Energy Coalition, (206) 621-0094
Kathleen Ridihalgh, Sierra Club, (206) 356-2925
State Rep. Marko Liias, (360) 786-7972
Legislation to reduce coal pollution, protect our families’ health and strengthen economy introduced in Houseß
Environmental Priority bill would hasten end of coal-fired power in Washington
OLYMPIA – A bill introduced Thursday in the state House will protect Washington families from the harmful health effects of burning coal for electricity and help build the economy of the community now hosting the state’s lone coal-burning power plant.
TransAlta Corp.’s nearly four decades-old coal plant is Washington’s largest single source of toxic mercury, air and climate pollution. The bill put forward this week would:
• Transition the plant off of coal as early as 2015, and no later than 2017.
• Provide infrastructure funding to Lewis County so the plant’s host community can begin a fair and planned economic transition.
• Create a model for strengthening local communities while transitioning beyond coal to the clean energy economy of the future.
The issue is one of four priorities for the environmental community this session. The bill, HB 1825, is sponsored by Rep. Marko Liias (D-Edmonds) and may be viewed at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1825&year=2011#documents. HB 1825 will be the subject of a House Environment Committee hearing at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 15 (environmental lobby day).
“The most important legacy we can leave future generations is clean air and water,” Liias said. “It’s time that we take action to stop subsidizing coal and its destructive effects on our state. This proposal will transition us towards a clean energy future while protecting those communities that will be affected in the short run.”
The Wyoming coal burned at TransAlta’s plant has devastating effects on public health.
“TransAlta’s power plant hurts our families every day it burns coal,” said Seattle Children's Hospital pediatrician and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility board member Dr. Alexander M. Hamling. “Burning coal fouls our air, pollutes our water and sickens our children. Children exposed to coal’s pollution have a higher risk of learning disabilities, asthma attacks, and coal pollution puts all of us at a higher risk for cancer, heart and lung disease. This legislation marks a major step in reducing air pollution-related diseases in our state.”
Passing the legislation will help fulfill our responsibilities to our children and the world they will inherit.
“Our state stands at a crossroads,” said Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light executive director LeeAnne Beres. “We can choose a future of clean and sustainable energy, in which all God’s children have clean air and water, or we can burn coal, a fuel that destroys creation, damages human health, and reflects poor stewardship of God’s gifts. It is clear which direction upholds the covenant with our Creator. This bill is exactly what we need to clean up contamination at the TransAlta site and strengthen the local economy.”
TransAlta is a Canada-based corporation that sells the power from its “merchant” coal plant on the open market. Transitioning the TransAlta plant off of coal will re-establish Washington state’s noted leadership role in clean energy development.
“Washington can create a model for strengthening local communities while transitioning off coal,” said Coal Free Future for Washington campaign director Doug Howell. “This bill provides important investments to ensure new economic opportunities for the people of Lewis County, providing a stronger economic future that is free of fossil fuels.
“The coal burned at the TransAlta plant comes from Wyoming, most of the power generated goes to California, the profits go to Canada, and Washington gets stuck with the pollution. Washington deserves a better deal,” Howell continued.
Major partners on the TransAlta priority campaign include the Sierra Club, Climate Solutions, CoolMom, Earth Ministry, Environment Washington, FUSE Washington, NW Energy Coalition, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Washington Environmental Council.
For more information, please go to http://environmentalpriorities.org/coal-free.
# # #
The Environmental Priorities Coalition is a network of 24 leading environmental groups in Washington state
who believe we can have a strong economy that provides everyone with the opportunity to prosper
and a clean, healthy and safe environment for ourselves and our children.
Founded in 2003, the Environmental Priorities Coalition selects priority issues each legislative session
that are important to protecting public health and welfare.
Following the dropping of the bill this week in Olympia, the Coal Free Washington Campaign needs the voices of health professionals to secure advancement of this legislation.