Mary Anne Hitt

Mary Anne Hitt is director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, which is working to eliminate coal's contribution to global warming and repower the nation with clean energy.

One big step closer to ending mountaintop removal

One of Appalachia’s biggest coal companies is getting out of the mountaintop-removal business. In a landmark announcement, Patriot Coal, one of Appalachia’s three largest mountaintop removal companies, has signed a settlement agreement with the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy committing to end its practice of large-scale surface mining in Appalachia, and to retire much of its mountaintop-removal equipment, including two massive mining machines called draglines. The conservation groups were represented in the negotiations by Joe Lovett of Appalachian Mountain Advocates. I have been working for over a decade to end mountaintop removal, and I …

Union of Concerned Scientists Report Finds One-Third of US Coal Plants Ripe For Retirement

Today our friends at the Union of Concerned Scientists released an impressive report showing that as many as one-third of U.S. coal plants are due for retirement because they are outdated, lack modern pollution controls, and can no longer compete in the marketplace with other forms of energy. The report details the range of up to 641 coal-fired boilers — up to 100 gigawatts — that are either recently retired or due for retirement because they are economically uncompetitive compared with more affordable energy sources.  This is an incredible amount of coal-fired generators that are being shown as economy uncompetitive …

What Obama’s Re-Election Means for Coal, Climate Change, and America’s Energy Future

President Obama’s victory yesterday was a victory for clean energy, one that gives us a fighting chance to slash coal pollution and turn the corner on climate change, in the wake of a devastating hurricane that brought global warming into sharp, painful focus for millions of Americans. As the Sierra Club’s Michael Brune said on election night, “We did it.” Fossil fuel billionaires had spent at record levels to defeat Obama in this election, and Romney had returned the favor, promising to open the floodgates on more mining and drilling if elected. But then Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard, …

Clean Energy on the Ballot: Fossil Fuel Companies Spending Big to Defeat Michigan Initiative

With Election Day just around the corner, I know many of you will be thinking about clean energy, climate change, and coal pollution when you cast your ballots. I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of my friends in Michigan who get to vote on a fantastic opportunity for more clean energy in their state. Unfortunately, big fossil fuel companies are spending big at the eleventh hour to try and stand in the way of a clean energy future for Michigan — and the nation. Proposal 3, which will be on the Michigan ballot next Tuesday, calls for 25 …

Big Coal Bullying Prompts University to Destroy Artwork

Bullied by coal companies and their allies in the Wyoming legislature, the University of Wyoming earlier this year caved to threats that millions of dollars in funding were in jeopardy if they didn’t remove an outdoor art installation on the university campus that Big Coal deemed offensive. The sculpture, “Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around,” was installed on the campus by British artist Chris Drury in July 2011. A spiral of logs made from trees killed by a pine-beetle infestation, the center of the 36-foot-diameter sculpture featured coal-blackened logs surrounded by lumps of coal. The $45,000 piece was paid for …

Uniting Against Coal Exports in the Pacific Northwest

A coal train in the Pacific Northwest. Photo by Paul K. Anderson. There’s been a lot of buzz about coal exports lately, but if I was a betting woman, I’d say the smart money is on these coal industry pipe dreams never becoming a reality. That’s because local communities that would receive the brunt of the pollution from transporting all that coal are standing up and saying no, one after another. Communities across the Pacific Northwest continue to band together in opposition to coal export terminals and the massive increase in rail traffic that would come with it. Especially breath-taking …

Powerful New Series Reveals the True Cost of Coal

The first time I watched this is powerful new video, it stopped me in my tracks. It’s the debut video for our latest project, a photo series from Sierra magazine called “The Cost of Coal.” I think you’ll agree — the stories and images of these families who are facing the loss of their homes, loved ones, and lives to coal pollution are unforgettable. And while I was especially moved by the images from my home state of West Virginia, the real tragedy is that stories like these are being repeated across our nation. The Cost of Coal is new …

LA Chooses Clean Energy Over Coal

This week, we won a major victory when the Los Angeles City Council approved the L.A. Department of Water and Power’s plan to invest in clean energy, rather than continue to ship customer’s money out of state to buy coal (LA shipped $500 million out of state last year alone). This move will create more than 5,000 jobs in energy efficiency and rooftop solar and boost the local economy. At a time when so many cities are struggling with crumbling infrastructure and stretched budgets, it is heartening to see LA chart a bold new course in order to meet its …

Notorious Northern Virginia coal plant officially retires

On a scorching hot day last July, I stood on the deck of a boat on the Potomac River and introduced Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and mayor of New York City, who was there to announce a game-changing gift to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. Behind us was the notorious, polluting Potomac River coal plant in Alexandria, Virginia, which the community and elected officials had been trying to retire for years. Yesterday was finally the last day of operations for the Potomac River coal plant.

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