This past weekend we announced that the Washington State Senate approved a landmark agreement between the Sierra Club, Governor Chris Gregoire and TransAlta to phase out the state’s massive 1,600-megawatt coal plant between 2020 and 2025.

With growing pressure from the public (including environmental groups, clean energy advocates, health professionals, students and the faith community) to move away from dirty coal, Governor Gregoire worked out an agreement with all everyone involved.

This agreement continues Washington’s transition away from dirty coal to clean energy, a move that will also improve public health. Part of this new plan also involves installing pollution controls on this plant in the meantime that will reduce its health-threatening nitrogen oxide pollution.

And this plan also really focuses on the transition aspect: it creates a $60 million fund that will be invested in the Centralia community to help move away from relying on the plant.  Not only will tens of millions of dollars be invested in Centralia community development, but a significant portion of the transition fund will additionally be dedicated to innovation and new technologies that will help reduce Washington’s carbon pollution.

We can do better than dirty coal and its dangerous pollution. We can transition to clean energy and everyone involved can receive the benefits – just like the transition fund planned in the Washington State – TransAlta agreement. Renewable energy can clean up our air, keeping us healthier while providing an excellent boost to our economy and more job creation.

There are stories all over the country about the jobs created by switching to clean energy. Just a few examples: Look at this planned wind turbine factory in Maryland, look at the record-breaking growth of the U.S. solar industry in 2010, and look at the wind industry sustaining jobs in Maine even during rough economic times.

We can do this together, just as they did in Washington State, for our economy and our health.