Michael Bloomberg, the environmentally-friendly leader of one of the United States’ largest cities, announced today that he will donate $50 million to the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign.
As Mayor of New York City, Bloomberg has had a hand in many significant improvements to environmental and energy policies that create a cleaner world for millions of Americans. With this latest philanthropic effort, he will take that commitment even further, allowing the already successful campaign to double its staff to 200, and expand the anti-coal initiative from 15 to 46 states.
“If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal. Ending coal power production is the right thing to do, because while it may seem to be an inexpensive energy source the impact on our environment and the impact on public health is significant,” Bloomberg said in a statement Thursday. “Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to our water, and the leading cause of climate disruption.”
Although it has been the main source of power in the United States for hundreds of years, coal is a finite resource, and many have begun to wonder about how our society will operate when it finally runs out.
Unfortunately, Big Coal is firmly entrenched in the pockets of the majority of America’s politicians, making it nearly impossible to divert any government funding away from the dying coal industry and into the rapidly expanding world of renewable energy.
Despite this resistance, the financial boost provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies will provide a much-needed shot in the arm for the Beyond Coal campaign, increasing its budget by over one-third, and bringing its goal of cutting U.S. coal production by 30 percent by 2020 into realistic focus.
While catalyzing a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is important, equally significant is the effect that Bloomberg’s donation will have on the health of millions of Americans.
“In the U.S. coal is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and coal’s pollution contributes to four out of the five leading causes of mortality — heart disease, cancer, stroke, and respiratory illness,” states Bloomberg on his blog. “Coal emits almost half of all U.S. mercury pollution, which causes developmental problems in babies and young children, as well as being a major contributor to asthma attacks. Coal pollution causes $100 billion in health costs annually.”
“This partnership will help the Sierra Club to work with communities nationwide as they tell one coal plant after another that inflicting asthma and other diseases on their children is unacceptable and that they will not accept coal pollution in their neighborhoods,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, in a statement.
Banners hung by the Sierra Club in Washington DC metro station (click to zoom):