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Headlines in the last week trumpeted a decision by Xcel, Colorado's largest utility, to convert several old coal-fired power plants into natural gas plants.

The decision was hailed by some as a victory for the environment, since natural gas, when burned, results in fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases.  Some proclaimed the political power of coal on the wane in the West and natural gas ascendent.

In just over three weeks, the EPA will hold the first of five public hearings on its plan to finally regulate coal ash, the nasty, hazardous remains leftover from coal-fired power plants. On August 30, right here in Washington DC, the EPA will hear from hundreds of victims, advocates, community members, environmentalists, activists and everyday citizens about the need to clean up these dangerous dumps and waste ponds filled with decades of contaminated coal ash.

I'm live at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where Massey Energy CEO and chairman Don Blankenship is speaking in a special press luncheon today. Outside are protestors who are calling Mr. Blankenship to task for his oversight of the non-union company whose safety law violations -- over 100 citations from the U.S.Mine Safety and Health Administration this year alone -- led to a fatal explosion this year that took 29 lives and whose mountaintop removal mining practices have racked up thousands of Clean Water Act violations.

On Saturday, July 17 at 7:30 a.m., four moms reached the peak of Washington's iconic Mt. Rainier in a healthy political statement about coal power and the future of children of the Northwest.

The four moms, all parents of children between the ages of 3-6 years old, climbed Rainier to call for the closing or conversion of the TransAlta coal plant near Centrailia by 2015. They are asking state leaders to get serious about converting the state to green energy to protect our National Parks, wildlife, and our global climate.

Tomorrow (July 22), Don Blankenship, the notorious chairman and CEO of Massey Energy, speaks at the National Press Club. We'll be live blogging to make sure you all get the play-by-play -- which promises to be interesting at the very least if Blankenship's previous speaking engagements are any indicator (we live-blogged at his public debate with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in January in Charleston, WV -- check it out here).

The indispensable Earth Policy Institute reports that emissions of carbon dioxide by wealthy countries including the United States fell a tiny fraction in the last year, which is welcome news. While China passed the U.S. as the biggest emitter of CO2 a couple of years ago, a recent study out of Stanford calculated that if you take into account the fraction of China's emissions that are the result of manufacturing various items for export to the U.S.

Four Washington moms have begun their attempt to summit Mount Rainier this weekend to deliver a strong message to their governor about coal.

The Climb Against Coal challenges Governor Gregoire to close or convert the TransAlta coal plant by 2015, 10 years earlier than the governor wants to. The TransAlta plant is Washington's largest toxic polluter and largest stationary source of global warming pollution.

Four mothers from the Seattle area will Climb Against Coal this weekend.

Their voyage up Washington's iconic Mt. Rainier will be a protest of sorts to call for the closing of the TransAlta coal plant by 2015.

TransAlta is the state's largest single source carbon dioxide emissions. Besides global warming pollution, the plant also emits toxic mercury that fall directly on Rainier's snowfields which feed the entire Puget Sound watershed.

If you live in the Seattle area, please join us in send off celebration on Wednesday, July 14 from 5:00-7:00pm at Ella Bailey Park, 2601 W Smith St, Seattle (Magnolia neighborhood).

Click here for a YouTube introduction to the moms who are climbing for a greener future, or meet Genevieve below:

Earthjustice wishes these brave souls a safe and inspiring climb.

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