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Focus Area

Coal

To halt climate change, we must stop burning coal. Earthjustice is keeping coal in the ground by challenging extraction and mining, targeting the dirtiest coal-fired power plants for retirement, addressing hazardous emissions and preventing coal exports.
Photo by Shawn Poynter

Earthjustice litigation led to the shutdown of the Big Sandy coal plant in Kentucky. It was just one victory in our efforts to rid the land of one of the most highly polluting industries in America—coal-fired power plants.

COAL BURNING IS THREATENING OUR HEALTH AND OUR ENVIRONMENT.

Coal-fired power plants are the single biggest source of greenhouse gases in the United States, accounting for more than a third of all emissions. They also pollute our air and our water, causing and worsening respiratory illnesses like asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. To save our health and the health of our planet, we have to stop burning coal. Period.

WE’RE SETTING OUR SIGHTS ON COAL BY:

  • ADDRESSING WASTE AND EMISSIONS through litigation and advocacy that establishes and enforces national regulations for power plant waste like coal ash.
  • RETIRING DIRTY AND COSTLY COAL PLANTS through litigation that forces the retirement of the oldest and dirtiest plants, blocks the construction of new ones, and creates incentives for investing in clean, renewable sources of energy.
  • PREVENTING COAL EXPORTS through work to prevent the permitting of terminals that would ship mountains of coal overseas to be burned.
  • STOPPING EXTRACTION AND MINING through efforts to ban mountaintop removal mining and other extraction practices, to protect the health, air and water of local residents, and to send a signal to the coal industry that coal's time as an energy giant is nearly done.

COAL’S DAY IS COMING TO AN END.

In October 2013, the Supreme Court refused to hear industry’s claims that global warming pollution doesn’t endanger public health—a landmark action that solidifies regulation of carbon pollution, including the emissions of coal-fired power plants. Earthjustice intervened on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund to challenge industry’s claims in legal briefs before the high court.

"There is no question that you have to tackle U.S. emissions if we have any hope of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change. Tackling U.S. emissions absolutely means tackling coal-fired power plants." – Abigail Dillen, VP for Litigation: Climate & Energy