Pacific Northwest to Become First Coal-Free Region in U.S.
April 29, 2011
On April 29, Sierra Club Deputy Conservation Director Bruce Nilles joined Washington Governor Chris Gregoire in Centralia, Washington as the Governor signed a bill to systematically end the burning of coal in the state of Washington. The bill formalizes a landmark agreement between the Sierra Club, Governor Gregoire and TransAlta – the owner of the only coal-fired power plant in the state – which will phase-out the massive 1,400 megawatt TransAlta plant between 2020 and 2025. Washington now joins Oregon in approving a plan to phase-out the destructive use of coal-fired power, setting the Pacific Northwest on a path to becoming the nation’s first coal-free region.
“This victory is a testament to the hard work of dedicated community members and passionate volunteers who simply want to protect their neighborhoods and their family’s health from coal’s toxic pollution,” said Doug Howell, Washington Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “We are incredibly grateful for the hard work of not only the great Sierra Club volunteers, but also for the allies who helped achieve this progress.”
The Sierra Club worked with conservation, public health, faith and clean energy advocates, including the Northwest Energy Coalition, the Washington Environmental Council, Climate Solutions, the National Parks Conservation Association, Earthjustice and Earth Ministry to help Washington state move beyond coal.
March 7, 2011
Sierra Club has reached a landmark agreement with the state of Washington and coal plant operator TransAlta that will help the state transition away from coal to a clean energy future. Sierra Club and its allies, Governor Chris Gregoire, and TransAlta have secured an agreement to phase out the state’s massive 1600-megawatt Centralia coal-fired power plant between 2020 and 2025.
With growing pressure from the public - including environmental groups, clean energy advocates, health professionals, students and the faith community - Governor Gregoire convened a group of stakeholders to discuss ways to move the state beyond coal. As a result of these meetings, on March 5, the Washington State Senate approved the bill to retire the Centralia coal plant, formally known as Senate Bill 5769. The agreement calls for one of Centralia’s two coal-fired boilers to be retired in 2020, with the second boiler slated for retirement by 2025. Both boilers will install pollution controls in 2013 that will reduce health-threatening nitrogen oxide pollution from the plant. Importantly, the agreement will also create a $60 million fund that will be invested in the Centralia community to help transition away from reliance on the plant, with a significant portion of the fund dedicated to innovation and new technologies that will help reduce Washington’s carbon pollution.
If Senate Bill 5769 is approved by the Washington State House of Representatives, the agreement will make TransAlta’s Centralia plant the latest victory for a healthy and thriving clean energy future in America. Together with the plan to close Oregon’s one coal plant - Portland General Electric’s Boardman plant - in 2020, the Pacific Northwest will end its coal-burning pollution throughout the next 14 years. Thanks in part to the work of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, plans for 150 new coal plants have been shelved since the beginning of the coal rush, keeping more than 570 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere, and the industry has announced plans to phase out over 50 existing coal plants.
Details and Documents:
Pacific Northwest to Become First Coal-Free Region in United States
April 29, 2011, Sierra Club Press Release
Agreement Reached to Retire Only Coal-Fired Power Plant in Washington
March 7, 2011, Sierra Club Press Release
Washington begins transition off of coal power
May 6, 2011, American City & County
Bill signed to shut last coal plant in Wash. state
April 29, 2011, Associated Press
Bill moves Wash. plant off coal by 2025
April 12, 2011, Associated Press
Unlikely coalition unites over TransAlta
March 16, 2011 by Katie Schmidt, The Olympian
Breathe easier, a plan to stop burning coal for power
March 7, 2011, The Seattle Times | Editorials / Opinions
Last coal plant in Pacific Northwest to shut down starting in 2020
March 6, 2011, Los Angeles Times
TransAlta to phase out coal boilers in Wash. state
March 5, 2011, Reuters
Bill Passes Senate: Washington to be Coal-Free by 2025
March 5, 2011 by Marqise Allen, The Chronicle
See other "Retiring Old Coal" cases.