|Shaking up Coal
The earth moved a bit last week when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake marked the opening moments of a meeting hosted by the Sierra Club to discuss coal.
Representatives from two dozen national organizations met at a meeting convened at the Sierra Club’s DC office to discuss the organization’s coal strategy and the movement-wide implications of the Sierra Club’s game-changing partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced in July. The meeting was attended by health, faith, labor, and environmental organizations with a wide range of history and experience working on coal.
After a delay to confirm that the quake was a simply a sign of the planet’s approval of our agenda, the Sierra Club’s Mary Anne Hitt and Bruce Nilles presented the strategy that the Beyond Coal Campaign has developed to retire a significant portion of the nation’s coal plants and replace them with clean energy. They also discussed how the Beyond Coal Campaign plans to invest the $50 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Two donors were also in attendance to discuss the gift, its implications, and their desire to increase funds available to allied organizations working on coal.
The rest of the two-day meeting was spent discussing the needs and priorities of the broad set of allies present, to further refine the strategy and to provide donors with a clear, broad-brush sense of what our movement will need to step up our work on coal. The Sierra Club is planning to meet with allies at the regional level in coming months to convene similar discussions, and will also be reaching out to groups that were not able to attend the August meeting. If you would like to be better linked in with the coal work discussed at the meeting, reach out to Sierra Club staff in your state or region, or contact Beyond Coal Campaign director Mary Anne Hitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other organizing news that’s shaking things up, Saturday marked the last day of the historic tar sands action. Despite the rain and summer heat 243 participants were arrested, making the final count 1252 for the Keystone XL Pipeline White House protest. The pressure on the Obama Administration continues to heat up as the State Department releases a faulty environmental impact statement and signals its intent to approve the pipeline.
In other shocking news, the White House retreated Friday on an opportunity to save lives and improve Americans’ health. The President himself intervened to block the Environmental Protection Agency from correcting an outdated smog standard that the head of EPA recognizes to be scientifically and legally indefensible. The President refused to set lower, more health-protective ozone air quality standards, ignoring the unanimous recommendation of the scientific advisors who were asked to look at the evidence and agreed: a lower standard is needed to protect Americans’ health. Check out Natural Resources Defense Council ’s latest blog for a good overview of this recent development.
As disappointing as Friday’s announcement is, we will have our hands full this Fall fighting back against many other outrageous assaults on the EPA and our landmark clean air laws. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent a letter to colleagues this week announcing that beginning the week of September 19 the House will try to repeal protective standards already in place and to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from following the law, outlining a vigorous political strategy to block as many as eight life-saving clean air standards.
Fortunately, the movement has been working vigorously during August to educate the public and meet with members of Congress while they were back home. We will need continued vigilance over the next several months to keep the pressure and beat back these ideological attacks. To stay up to date on the latest attacks read the Clean Air Act Digest.
Peter Bahouth, Executive Director