Washington Governor Chris Gregoire recently signed a bill that will systematically end the burning of coal in the state, making it one of the first coal-free states in the nation.
Currently, Oregon is the only other state to announce official plans to phase-out the destructive use of coal-fired power.
The Washington bill is the result of a hard-fought agreement between the Sierra Club, Governor Gregoire and TransAlta — the owner of the only coal-fired power plant in the state.
TransAlta agreed to phase-out its massive 1,400 megawatt Centralia plant between 2020 and 2025.
“In the great American tradition, people in the states are leading and eventually Congress will follow,” said Sierra Club Deputy Conservation Director Bruce Nilles during the signing ceremony. “It is in this tradition that we are here today to celebrate a state’s common sense solution to a global problem. By reaching an agreement to phase out the TransAlta plant over the next fourteen years in an orderly manner, Washington State is showing Washington D.C. not only that it can be done, but how it can be done.”
The agreement calls for one of the Centralia plant’s two coal-fired boilers to be retired in 2020, with the second boiler scheduled to be retired by 2025. Both boilers will install pollution controls in 2013 that will reduce the amount of health-threatening nitrogen oxide pollution from the plant.
“This agreement reflects a reasonable and thoughtful approach to a complex situation,” said Doug Howell, Washington Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “Retiring this plant will protect the families and national parks that have for four decades been choking on this plant’s pollution. The orderly retirement will also ensure that the Centralia community will be protected during the transition away from coal.”
Washington State is primarily powered by hydropower, as is Oregon, which last year announced a plan to phase out its last coal-fired power plant by 2020.
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