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.

The News Just Keeps Getting Worse for West Virginia (and It Doesn’t Stop There)

Earlier this week my West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said the following about whether people should be drinking the water in Charleston and downstream: “It’s your decision….I’m not a scientist.” For the 300,000 people affected by the coal chemical spill from two weeks ago, I bet that’s very reassuring. Quite a profile in courage, our governor. Even less reassuring, the news came out Wednesday that there was another mysterious chemical spill in that leak, and officials are now testing to make sure the water treatment facility removed that chemical. And it gets worse – how about this article featuring …

Recovery from WV Coal Chemical Spill Continues – What Next?

As a West Virginian, this has been a sad, frustrating, and infuriating time for me, though I do not live in the area affected by last week’s coal chemical spill. More than 300,000 people in the WV capital of Charleston and downstream counties have been without water for eight days and counting. The chemical that spilled is used to process coal after it’s mined, to separate the coal from other substances before it’s carried away on trains or river barges. A tank of this chemical, located immediately above the largest drinking water intake in WV, leaked. Very little is known …

Marquee Investor Backs Away from Coal Exports in the Northwest

One of the largest investment banks in the world has backed away from the Cherry Point coal export proposal in Washington. Earlier this week, financial giant Goldman Sachs sold off its stake in the parent company of SSA Marine, the developer of the dirty and dangerous coal export terminal at Cherry Point. This is the latest in a series of setbacks for the proposal, which aims to export 50 million tons of Western coal to Asia every year. If built, it would be the largest coal export terminal in North America. Cherry Point is one of six coal export terminals …

Five Years After Tragic Disaster in Tennessee, Still No Coal Ash Safeguards

This coming Sunday, Dec. 22,  marks five years since the Kingston Coal Plant’s ash dam in Tennessee ruptured, sending more than a billion gallons of toxic sludge into homes, onto farmland, and into the Emory and Clinch Rivers in Roane County – one of the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history. Five years later, we’re still waiting – and pushing – for the Environmental Protection Agency to put in place long-overdue protections to prevent more coal ash disasters. We saw the photos of huge “ash-bergs” in the rivers, of homes decked out with Christmas wreaths buried in toxic coal ash …

What’s At Stake: Clean Air and Public Health in our Highest Courts on December 10

This Tuesday, December 10, our nation’s highest courts will hear two landmark Clean Air Act cases that have big implications for public health. First and foremost, the Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule. Back in 2011, EPA unveiled this update of a critical public health protection that would reduce power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, dangerous pollutants that form soot and smog and contribute to poor air quality days and respiratory illnesses affecting millions of Americans. They call this the Cross State Air Pollution Rule because it curbs …

Will Your Tax Dollars Fund a Highway that’s a Mountaintop Removal Coal Mine in Disguise?

Today, Appalachian community leaders are in Washington, D.C., to protest a Virginia coal boondoggle that has set its sights on $2 billion of your federal tax dollars. Mountaintop removal coal mining is already a shocking, devastating, and destructive practice on its own – but what happens when you add in coal companies making deals with state and federal transportation agencies in order to seize private land and blow it up for coal? Well then you get the planned Coalfields Expressway in Southwest Virginia. The project is a public-private partnership between the Commonwealth of Virginia and coal mining companies, including Alpha …

#ClimateThanks: 5 Things I’m Thankful for this Year

This Thanksgiving, people around the country are using the hashtag #ClimateThanks on Twitter to share who and what they’re thankful for in the fight against climate disruption. As director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, I have the great honor of working with people across the U.S. who are winning big climate victories week after week, and then seeing those wins add up to real progress on climate change. From that perch, here are five things I’m thankful for this year: 1. The volunteers, staff and allies from over 100 organizations who have worked to win the retirement of …

Illinois College Students Vote Six to One in Favor of Divestment

Mary Anne Hitt: Americans continue to demand clean energy from the local to national level, and here’s yet another amazing example of quick, successful organizing by college students in Illinois. I’ll let my colleagues tell you all the wonderful details: Illinois College Students Vote Six to One in Favor of Divestment Co-written by Anastasia Schemkes of the Sierra Student Coalition and University of Illinois Graduate Student Katie Mimnaugh. On Friday night, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC or UofI) became the latest school (of the 300+ campuses working on fossil fuel divestment) to pass a student-wide divestment referendum. With …

Country’s Largest Public Power Provider Takes Next Major Step to Move Beyond Coal

Today the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced it will retire coal boilers at three of its coal plants in Alabama and Kentucky. Retiring these coal boilers means less pollution in the air and water in the southeast U.S. According to the Clean Air Task Force, the Colbert coal plant in Alabama alone contributed to 940 asthma attacks, 83 heart attacks, and 57 deaths per year. These retirements also mean less of the carbon pollution that is pushing our climate to the brink. This is big. It’s a great move for public health, for clean air and water, and for our …

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