Morgan Caplan, email@example.com
CUMBERLAND, Md. – Communities in Maryland will be able to breathe easier before the end of the decade with AES Corporation’s announcement of its intent to retire the Warrior Run coal plant in June 2024. The 23-year-old facility in Cumberland was the last remaining coal-fired power plant in the state without plans to cease operations. Maryland joins 14 other states that either no longer have operating coal plants or where all remaining coal plants in operation have committed to retirement by 2030. Earlier this year, the coal-burning Brandon Shores Power Plant near Baltimore announced its intent to deactivate by the end of 2025, but this could be delayed to 2028 if the regional grid operator does not pursue alternative reliability solutions.
For two decades, the Warrior Run plant in Western Maryland has spewed greenhouse gasses, worsened air pollution, and contributed to environmental degradation. Sierra Club and its partners have long led the fight against coal-fired generation in Maryland, working to encourage the transition to cleaner energy alternatives, promote sustainable practices, and support the workforce and communities burdened by its associated health problems.
For over a decade, the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign has partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies to fight climate change, improve public health, and reduce pollution across the United States. Warrior Run is the 374th coal plant to commit to retirement by the end of this decade.
At the start of the campaign, Maryland was home to 8 coal plants, and now 13 years later — after advocacy and persistence from many across the state — Maryland is on track to be coal-free before the end of the decade. Exposure to particulate pollution from these eight plants caused an estimated 3,000 asthma attacks, 300 heart attacks, and nearly 200 premature deaths every year. As of today, five of those eight coal plants have since retired — and the last three will retire within the next few years.
The Sierra Club recently sent letters to Gov. Wes Moore, state officials, and the regional operator, PJM Interconnection, highlighting the Warrior Run retirement. The letters urge the state to update its grid planning and renewable energy and storage plans to ensure new clean energy generation keeps pace with retirements and allows for a smooth and equitable transition for coal communities.
“The closure of the Warrior Run coal plant will not only ease the massive pollution burden in Allegany County, but will also be a major win in the effort to make Maryland coal-free,” said Josh Tulkin, Director of the Maryland Sierra Club. “Maryland already serves as a harbinger of the fossil fuel industry’s inevitable decline: The state has made strong commitments to 21st-century clean energy alternatives such as offshore wind and solar, but progress has been slower than it needs to be. Now, Gov. Wes Moore must double down on the state’s commitment to cleaner air for all by continuing to take advantage of this critical opportunity.”
“For generations, families across Maryland, including my own, have been forced to pay higher utility rates just to breathe in deadly pollution from our coal plants,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous. “Too many families have suffered from respiratory diseases because of these plants, but today, we can finally see the polluted sky begin to clear. I, and Marylanders across the state, are indebted to the tireless work of the advocates who have fought to move our home beyond coal and onto clean energy, which will continue to create jobs while saving us money.”
“The Sierra Club has long pushed for a transition from coal to clean energy, along with support for coal communities and workers,” said Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Chair Rosa Hance. "With coal retirements accelerating, we urge Maryland and local governments to engage the power plant owners to ensure prompt environmental clean-up and transition support for impacted workers and families.”
“The closure of the Warrior Run coal plant will be a major step in improving public health of Marylanders addressing historical injustices to Black, Brown, Indigenous and overburdened communities disproportionately impacted by respiratory and cardiovascular diseases from burning coal, and help to tackle climate crisis,” said Shruti Bhatnagar, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter Conservation Chair.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.