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Mary Anne Hitt's Posts

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Fighting for Environmental Justice in Omaha

Ever since President Obama invited the American public to a national climate conversation, thousands of Americans have taken him up on that offer by participating in town hall meetings held by the Sierra Club and our allies. I'd like to highlight one of these events I found particularly powerful and worthy of more attention. North Omaha, Nebraska, is home to one of the dirtiest coal plants in the nation, the North Omaha coal plant operated by Omaha Public Power District. The NAACP ranked it the 16th worst environmental justice offender in the nation (although with recent coal plant closures and …

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Protecting Northwest Communities from Coal Dust Pollution

This week, the Sierra Club, several Waterkeepers, and other allies in the Northwest filed legal action that put companies on notice for coal pollution coming off of trains and polluting the region. The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the most spectacular, legendary waterways on the planet, such as the Columbia River Gorge and Puget Sound. Residents grow, eat, and export foods that are economic mainstays for the region and are prized around the world - from vegetables to wine to salmon. Yet the health and safety of the residents and this economy are threatened by proposed massive increases …

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The EPA Must Protect Our Water From Coal Pollution

Here's a pretty shocking fact: While many of us know that coal-fired power plants create significant air pollution, it turns out they're one of our biggest water polluters, too. In fact, as we've developed technologies that take more toxins like mercury out of coal plant smokestacks, that pollution isn't just disappearing. Much of it is ending up in the water, instead, and those pollution levels are on the rise. Fortunately, our Environmental Protection Agency can do something about it. That's right - the same power plants that are causing asthma and heart attacks with their soot and wrecking our climate …

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Celebrating a Huge Offshore Wind Victory in Maryland

The winds of change brought some great progress to Maryland this week when the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 passed through both houses of the legislature. The offshore wind bill has been championed from the start by Governor Martin O'Malley, who stands ready to sign the bill into law. This is a huge victory that is nationally significant for two reasons. First, it could well be the tipping point that allows us to finally tap the massive offshore wind potential off the East Coast. Second, it will ensure historically underrepresented minority groups and small businesses will benefit from …

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Standing Up for Clean Water When States Won’t

Imagine that you've grown up in a beautiful, hilly countryside near many streams where you played and fished as a child. Now, years later, you can't even let your own kids or grandkids play in those same waterways because of pollution from a nearby mountaintop-removal coal mine. Such is the reality for thousands of people living in small Appalachian communities across West Virginia, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky. "Mountaintop removal makes aquatic life sick; it makes people sick; and it destroys vital communities," says Jim Sconyers, Sierra Club West Virginia chair. This week the Sierra Club joined the West Virginia Highlands …

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Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Poisons Appalachia’s Waterways

I remember the first time I saw a mountaintop-removal coal mining site - Kayford Mountain in southern West Virginia. Those images have never left my mind - a barren landscape where there was once lush forest. And right around the destroyed site, homes where people were trying to live despite having the world blown up next door. Their lives are never the same when a mountaintop-removal coal mine starts blasting. One major loss for these families is clean water. We expect our water to be safe and drinkable. Many folks here in Appalachia have streams or creeks running through their …

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Montana and Minnesota: Coal vs. Clean Energy

It's easy to get excited about the future coming off our recent announcement that we're half-way to our goal of retiring one-third of the nation's coal fleet. Seeing those successes city-by-city and state-by-state is inspiring, but it also is a frequent example of how different two places can be when it comes to clean energy and coal, whether they're right next door, or a state or two away. This week's coal vs. clean energy examples come from Montana and Minnesota. Having once lived in Montana myself, I can't imagine wanting to ruin such a beautiful big sky with coal pollution …

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A Big New Milestone Reached In Coal Retirement, Public Health, Climate Disruption

Millions of Americans are breathing easier these days as we announce that the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign has crossed the halfway mark toward meeting our goal of securing the retirement of a third of the nation's coal-fired power. It's only been a year and a half since Bloomberg Philanthropies gave a $50 million grant to the Sierra Club to support the efforts of the Beyond Coal campaign. As part of this partnership, the Sierra Club set the ambitious goal of winning commitments to retire 105,000 megawatts of coal -- about one-third of U.S. coal plants -- by 2015. These …

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Put Your Money Where Your Future Is: College Students Lead the Way on Fossil Fuel Divestment

While I loved every one of the thousands of faces I saw at Sunday's massive Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C., I was especially inspired by the huge number of young people who trekked in from across the nation, carrying signs and banners, chanting and cheering along with the speakers. Amid the crowd close to 50,000, I even bumped into some students from my alma mater, the University of Tennessee, representing the student environmental group I co-founded there twenty years ago, Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville. SPEAK brought 30 students to the rally, and few of them snapped …

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Filthy and Over-Budget? Let the Public Pay For It!

A fight over a new coal plant in Mississippi that is heating up this week offers a powerful example of the high cost of coal, both for our wallets and our health. We say it again and again, but it bears repeating.  How long are we going to let the coal industry and their well-funded political friends make us pay for their facilities and pollution, while standing in the way of cleaner and cheaper energy, like wind power? The latest dangerous political theater comes from Mississippi, where MS Power is attempting to build an experimental coal plant (IGCC) in Kemper …

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