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Mary Anne Hitt's Posts

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This Roller Coaster Never Stops

Waking up every morning thinking about how to move us beyond coal always comes with its share of highs and lows. But last week was an exceptionally wild roller coaster, and it left my brain spinning Last week started with an adrenaline rush as the City of Alexandria, Virginia and GenOn Energy announced plans to phase out the Potomac River Generating Station just outside Washington, D.C. This symbolic, dirty coal plant started operating in 1949 and still lacks modern pollution controls. The Sierra Club and many local activists and coalition partners had targeted this coal plant for more than a …

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Dissing coal — and the future of West Virginia

Can coal ever be clean? Wait, don't answer that. Photo: Nick HumphriesWest Virginia state leaders were in an uproar last week over a remark about coal made by Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, elder statesman and one of the longest-serving members of the U.S. Congress. Did he call us inbred hillbillies? Based on the angry reactions politicians like Sen. Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, you might think so (oh, wait -- that came from coal industry lawyers, as reporter Ken Ward Jr. reminded us in his excellent post about this whole flap). Instead, Conyers simply had the audacity …

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Breaking: Major victory — deal reached to retire old, dirty Potomac River Coal Plant

Only a few short weeks ago, I stood on a boat in front of the ancient, dirty, and deadly GenOn coal plant in Alexandria, Virginia, and introduced Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City, who then announced a game-changing gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. Today, major news about that notorious plant is breaking -- the City of Alexandria and GenOn reached a deal to retire the Potomac River Generating Station by October 1, 2012.    This filthy coal plant started operating in 1949 and still lacks modern pollution controls, making people sick …

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Stop the giant fish blenders!

Watch the process demonstrated in an animation by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore.Giant fish blenders: It may sound like a workaday instrument at the Food Network, but it’s actually a very real threat. Power plants are killing fish and damaging our waterways via their outdated once-through cooling systems. We can help, but we need to act fast: The deadline for action to remedy this situation is Thursday, Aug. 18! Let me explain what we mean by "giant fish blenders." Antiquated power plants (many of them coal-fired power plants) throughout the nation use water intake structures to help cool systems that …

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Air support: Join the fight for stronger air pollution safeguards

Co-written by Sierra Club Conservation Director Sarah Hodgdon. Shortness of breath. Wheezing. Tightening of the chest. Coughing. These are just some of the symptoms of an asthma attack, and if you've ever had one, you know the fear. If your child has ever had one, you know the terror: Asthma strikes one out of every 10 school children and is the No. 1 reason kids miss school in the United States. If Lisa Jackson and the Environmental Protection Agency could do something to prevent thousands of asthma attacks every year -- shouldn't they do it? Nationwide, we're seeing Americans stand …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Coal

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As summer temperatures rise, so does deadly coal pollution

Gas masks: (not) the ultimate bikini accessory. As a mom, I've been paying attention to air pollution alerts, and I've been cautious about letting my daughter play outside on Code Red days. One of the biggest sources of that air pollution is coal-fired power plants, which pose an especially immediate threat to our health on hot summer days when soot and smog levels are highest. Burning coal for electricity pollutes our air with toxins that cause asthma, heart disease, and more. One of these pollutants is ozone, which is one of the key ingredients of smog. Yet many Americans still …

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Sierra Club Receives Major Donation to Fight Coal

Today is a remarkable day. In the shadow of one of the nation's most notorious polluting coal plants, New York mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg announced a game-changing gift to the Sierra Club -- a $50 million commitment over four years to the Beyond Coal Campaign that will fuel the Sierra Club's effort to clean the air, move beyond coal, and accelerate the transition to cleaner, cost-effective energy sources. We are thrilled about this partnership -- Michael Bloomberg sees our nation's energy future the same way we do: "Ending coal power production is the right thing to do for our …

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Quiz: How much coal is in your life?

It's not always this obvious how much coal is in your life.Photo: Mark HobbsWhen we talk about the horrible effects coal can have on your life, maybe sometimes we get a little too technical. For the sake of our fast-moving culture today, how about we put your coal risks on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst? Well, the Sierra Club has done just that with our new "Coal In Your Life" quiz. Simply go to CoalInYourLife.org, enter your zip code, and answer the three questions regarding where you live, what you eat, and how you …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Coal

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International: The UN Clean Development Mechanism's Growing Coal Scandal

When is the last time you were paid for NOT showing up for work? Or better yet, got a bonus for doing the exact opposite of what you're supposed to? That's exactly what the backers of massive coal projects are asking the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board to do when they apply for carbon credits. They are asking the CDM to financially compensate them for building new coal plants that will lock in decades of new carbon emissions because these plants are using more efficient technology than would otherwise be used, according to the developers. Sadly, the CDM is falling …

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New EPA air pollution standard protects public health

Good news! Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a safeguard that will improve the lives of millions of Americans. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will protect families and communities from the dangerous air pollution spewed out by coal-fired power plants. If you have a child with asthma or a loved one at risk of a heart attack, you can breathe easier today, because these new protections will decrease the chances that they will end up in the emergency room. Specifically, the new protections will reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, dangerous pollutants that form soot …