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Articles by Bruce Nilles

Bruce Nilles is the Deputy Conservation Director of the Sierra Club and former director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, the largest component of Sierra Club's new Climate Recovery Partnerships. The Beyond Coal Campaign is working to reduce America's over reliance on coal, slash coal's contribution to global warming and other pollution woes, end destructive mining, and secure massive investments in clean energy alternatives. Bruce joined the Sierra Club in 2002. He previously worked as a staff attorney for Earthjustice's San Francisco office, and during the Clinton Administration as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division in Washington D.C. He received his J.D. and B.S. degrees from the University of Wisconsin.

All Articles

  • Coal ash sites kept secret, while industry works to prevent regulations

    This week’s blog post is co-written by Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. If you lived near a dump site where the hazardous waste was so toxic it could increase your cancer risk to as high as a staggering 1 in 50, wouldn’t you want to know about it? […]

  • Mixed bag on mountaintop-removal mining decision from Obama sdministration

    This post was co-written by Bruce Nilles and Mary Anne Hitt, director and deputy director, respectively, of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign. Today the Obama Administration announced steps to end the fast-tracking of certain mountaintop removal coal mine permits and add tougher enforcement in Appalachia, important steps that — with additional actions — could […]

  • We need responsible planning for electrical transmission lines

    In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of activity surrounding new transmission lines. With hearings and legislation in Washington, D.C. and multi-state transmission corridor projects on the drawing board, there are a lot of questions. Are they needed? Can low-carbon generation be met otherwise? Is the project just an excuse to expand the reach […]

  • International mercury pact shows that India and China will follow our lead

    The news that the Obama administration is on board with an international pact to significantly decrease mercury use is fantastic for those of us committed to switching from dirty coal power to clean, renewable energy sources.

    This is a bold step for the U.S. -- one that is a long-time coming for coal-fired power plants. Coal plants are one of the largest sources of man-made mercury pollution in the U.S.

    Mercury pollution causes brain damage and other developmental problems in unborn children and infants, and it has been linked to a greater risk of coronary heart disease in men. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 8 percent of women had mercury blood levels exceeding the level deemed safe for unborn children by the Environmental Protection Agency. Our mercury regulations should be strict to protect public health and the environment.

    Yet it was this quote from the Washington Post article on the international mercury treaty that stuck out to my colleagues and me: "Once the administration said it was reversing the course set by President George W. Bush, China, India and other nations also agreed to endorse the goal of a mandatory treaty."

    For too long we've heard the regulation nay-sayers use the excuse that whatever restrictions and regulations we introduce will only hurt the U.S. economically because China and India will not do the same. This mercury treaty shows the reality: If the U.S. acts first, then China and India will follow.

    This bodes well for carbon legislation. The U.S. must act first on carbon regulation. China and India will follow our lead.