The End of America’s Coal Era?

Could the end be near for coal?

This page was published 12 years ago. Find the latest on Earthjustice’s work.

When an environmental organization tells you the age of coal is over, it’s fair to dismiss that as mere wishful thinking.

But when an international economic magazine says the same thing, people sit up and pay attention.

While the cradle-to-grave impacts of coal are well documented, the fact remains that coal still provides 45 percent of the nation’s power. But coal’s dominance is decreasing as new sources of power come online and energy efficiency improves.

In the January 28 print edition of The Economist we learn that efforts to make coal pay its true “external” costs to society, largely through regulating pollution, are starting to pay off.

Coal-fired power plants are the source of more than one-third of greenhouse-gas emissions in America. Last July the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a rule that requires 28 states to reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide they emit; in December came another, reducing the amount of mercury and other toxic air pollutants that power plants can puff out.

Earthjustice is proud of our work to help speed the demise of America’s most polluting power source.

From our work to end mountaintop removal mining, fight against new coal-fired power plants, challenge new transmission lines from coal plants to cities, rein-in coal plant toxic air pollution, and demand the regulation of toxic coal ash, we have taken the fight for cleaner energy to heart.

This struggle is far from over, but it sure is nice to have progress noted by the international media.

As the Economist mentions, even the late Robert Byrd, Senator from West Virginia, could see the end was near when he said that we “can choose to anticipate change and adapt to it, or resist and be overrun by it.”

An Earthjustice staff member from 1999 until 2015, Brian used outreach and partnership skills to cover many issues, including advocacy campaign efforts to promote a healthy ocean.