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Mary Anne Hitt's Posts

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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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Obama’s Legacy, the Climate Rally, and What It Means for Coal

My daughter Hazel is no stranger to rallies and public hearings. I've taken her to all sorts of events, because it's her future that’s at stake...and sometimes because no babysitters are available. But one event I am very excited to bring her to is the upcoming Forward on Climate rally in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, February 17. The chance to rally with tens of thousands of other Americans of all ages -- all who want serious action on climate disruption from President Obama -- well, that's something that no one should miss, no matter how young or old you are. …

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Clean Energy Continues to Break Records, Lead the Way

Here are two headlines from the past week that blew me away (no pun intended): #1- Wind was the top new energy source to come online in 2012. #2- "Renewable-energy capacity in the U.S. almost doubled from 2009 to 2012, helping reduce the nation's carbon-dioxide emissions last year to the lowest since 1994..." With every passing month, more polluting coal plants are  being retired -- like these plants in Minnesota, just announced last week -- and more clean energy continues to come online to replace it. The statistics from the American Wind Energy Association are phenomenal. There more than 60,000 …

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