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Clean Air and Clean Energy Successes -- and Some Rap

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Who doesn't love good news? Let's start with something catchy -- maybe a soundtrack as you read the rest of this column.

This week we released a video created by DJ Steve Porter, known for his innovative "remix" videos, featuring celebrities, sports stars, and now Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and Mayor of New York City, and the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.

 

Creative, internet-based videos are no longer something reserved for major corporations to promote products; we're now using this type of media to promote issues that the public cares about.

Beyond Coal will continue to lead with cutting edge social media and traditional media campaigns that energize communities to move beyond coal and build the clean energy economy. We hope people who are inspired by the energy and momentum in this video will join the cause and help move the country from coal to clean energy.

Speaking of inspiration -- did you see the news yesterday from Austin, Texas?  The city announced that starting October 1st, it will meet its 400 million kilowatt hours of electricity needs wholly from in-state generated wind energy. The energy will be provided by a wind farm in west Texas and will power all libraries, fire stations, recreational centers and police stations. Austin has set a goal of buying 35% of its total energy from clean sources by 2020.

Now that's inspiring! We hope the city decides to inspire even more and phase out the Fayette Coal Plant, which powers many of Austin's homes and businesses. This plant burns huge quantities of coal, producing toxic emissions like mercury, which endangers the health of women and children. In addition to this trailblazing announcement, Austin can cement its place as a clean energy leader by moving, not just its public buildings, but all of Austin Beyond Coal.

I look forward to hearing more about Austin's plans when I visit there next week for the inaugural South by Southwest Eco Conference, which the Sierra Club is sponsoring.

And just last week we saw good news from Minnesota, where the New Ulm Public Utilities Commission voted to not use coal in one of its steam plant boilers. The commissioners should be applauded for voting to not move forward with a plan that would have increased air pollution and cost the city over $23 million.

September's been full of great clean energy news. Mid-month we all cheered when Kentucky Utilities and Louisville Gas & Electric announced that they will retire three coal plants in Kentucky -- including the hotly-contested, massively polluting Cane Run Plant in Louisville - by 2016.

The Sierra Club has worked on an extensive organizing campaign targeting the plant for responsible retirement due to the extensive damage the plant's pollution has caused to the families of Louisville, Kentucky.

The good news about moving beyond coal to clean energy keeps rolling in, and we will continue working -- as I note in the remix video -- plant-by-plant, state-by-state, and town-by-town.

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