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Mary Anne Hitt's Posts

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Our Challenge to TVA: Will You Live Up to Your Values and Save Money and Lives with Energy Efficiency?

This week, the Sierra Club presented a new report to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) board of directors that charts a course for TVA to a clean energy future. The report, prepared by Synapse Energy Economics and commissioned by the Sierra Club, reveals that TVA can lower ratepayer bills every month for decades and clean up the air across the eastern US by investing in energy efficiency, rather than in retrofits for their most polluting coal plants. I grew up in the Tennessee Valley, and I know that this will come as welcome news to the millions of residents in …

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Drink it in: Local residents score big wins for clean water

Photo by Shutterstock.

Imagine you were facing a life-threatening illness, and your doctor told you this: "You need to move, or you will never survive this stuff."

That is exactly what happened to West Virginia resident Debbie Havens, who lives near the infamous Little Blue Run coal ash dump. But Debbie didn't move, and after fighting pollution from the site for decades, she and her neighbors recently got some unbelievable news -- FirstEnergy, the utility that operates the site, is going to shut it down.

That is just one of the many inspiring successes that made headlines in recent weeks, and they all have one thing in common -- they all happened due to the courage, persistence, and determination of committed volunteers and local residents. From West Virginia, to Pennsylvania, to Illinois, we've seen pivotal victories recently in our fight for clean water and healthy families.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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New Report Follows Money Trail Behind Attacks on Clean Energy

Every election season, more and more money is poured into campaigns. But there is a surprising new twist this year - fossil fuel interests are actually spending money to directly attack clean energy like wind and solar, as we reveal in a new report we are releasing today, "Clean Energy Under Siege" (PDF). Over the past decade, renewable energy's strong growth and success has made it a target for unprecedented new attacks from oil, coal, and gas interests. The report reveals how the fossil fuel industry is using tactics such as financial contributions to political campaigns, faux "think tanks," phony …

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Clean Air Victory for Texas as Coal Plant Permit Struck Down

This week Texas residents cheered when a judge invalidated the state air pollution permit for the proposed Las Brisas coal plant in Corpus Christi. The Las Brisas proposal is only the second new power plant proposed to be built within city limits anywhere in the United States (Chicago's Leucadia is the other), and a coalition of concerned residents, business owners, and elected officials have fought the plant since it was announced in 2008, arguing that the petroleum coke-fired power plant will be a major new source of toxic air pollution in a city already plagued with industrial pollution. In addition …

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Black Lung: Coal’s Dirty Politics

Reading and listening to the recent NPR, Center for Public Integrity, and Charleston Gazette articles about the rise in black lung cases for coal miners saddens and angers me. Like many, I had -- mistakenly, it turns out -- assumed that black lung was declining, thanks to the efforts of leaders like West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. Unfortunately, I was wrong. On top of that, it turns out that in recent days, Republicans in Congress (with the backing of the coal industry), have been successfully blocking mine safety measures that would help address this problem. Ken Ward, Jr., of the …

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Soot Hearings: Speaking Out For Public Health

On Tuesday, hundreds of Philadelphia residents rallied and spoke at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing on new safeguards to cut deadly soot pollution nationwide. Today, many more will rally at another soot hearing in Sacramento. I grew up in the Smoky Mountains, where - believe it or not - dangerous levels of air pollution sometimes made it dangerous to hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since becoming a mom two years ago, I know that I pay more attention to those "code red" and "code orange" days when the air pollution makes it dangerous for many kids to …

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Hundreds Rally Against New Chicago Coal Plant

On Tuesday hundreds of Chicagoans rallied against a coal gasification plant proposed for the city’s southeast side. These residents are against this planned facility because of the pollution it would bring – not to mention what a poor plan it is to build another dirty coal facility after the city just announced the closure of Chicago's two ancient Fisk and Crawford coal plants. Currently, legislation is sitting on Illinois Governor Pat Quinn's desk that would force the state natural gas utilities into 30 year contracts to pay for the construction and output of the Leucadia's coal gasification plant. We are …

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Blowing in the right direction: Two big wind projects are moving forward

As we continue to retire aging dirty coal plant after aging dirty coal plant nationwide (we just hit 112 coal plants secured to retire), we are also pushing hard to replace them with clean energy, and as little natural gas as possible. That's why we were excited this week to see two very large clean energy announcements from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

First, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the completion of the final environmental impact statement for a massive Wyoming wind farm. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project would be comprised of up to 1,000 wind turbines across private and federal land in southeastern Wyoming, and generate up to 2,500 megawatts of clean energy.

This is a great move for a state where coal mining is devastating a beautiful and critical area -- the Powder River Basin. More wind power in Wyoming could mean less coal mining and fewer coal trains and coal plants in the West. It is also a smart move for a state that sees itself as an energy powerhouse, and wants to keep this role in a future that will have little to no coal in it.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Urgent: Tell Your Senators to Protect Public Health – Don’t Roll Back EPA’s Mercury Standards

A big Senate vote this week will determine the fate of mercury safeguards that continue to garner overwhelming support from Americans nationwide. This past weekend the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously passed a resolution (PDF) supporting the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) mercury pollution standards. This comes on the heels of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's letter to the EPA, signed by 91 of his fellow mayors, in support of these critical public health protections. Millions of Americans believe EPA is doing the right thing in requiring that coal companies clean up their act when it comes to mercury pollution. This week, …

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New Soot Pollution Standard Benefits Americans, Saves Lives

Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a draft pollution standard for soot that will reduce one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution, saving thousands of lives and preventing tens of thousands of heart attacks every single year. Unfortunately, it is sure to come under attack by big polluters, so we will need to stand together to defend it. Soot, also known as particulate pollution, is the most harmful type of air pollution. Soot pollution is a significant health threat because these very fine particles, which come from burning fossil fuels, can be inhaled and lodge in the …

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