Coal is going down in the United States, and that’s good news for the Earth’s climate. The US Energy Information Administration has announced that coal, the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive conventional fossil fuel, generated only 36 per cent of US electricity in the first quarter of 2012. That amounts to a staggering 20 per cent decline from one year earlier. And the EIA anticipates additional decline by year’s end, suggesting a historic setback for coal, which has provided the majority of the US’ electricity for many decades.
Even more encouraging, however, is the largely unknown story behind coal’s retreat.
a persistent grassroots citizens’ rebellion that has blocked the construction of 166 (and counting) proposed coal-fired power plants
“Our goal is to shut down one third of America’s [roughly 500 existing] coal plants by 2015 and to stop coal worldwide by 2030,” says Bruce Nilles, the senior director of the Beyond Coal campaign at the Sierra Club, which houses the campaign.
“This landmark achievement in the climate fight remains unknown… because the US media and political class view public issues through the lens of official Washington.”
Meanwhile, the moratorium on new coal amounts to the biggest victory against climate change yet won in the United States.