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February 26, 2009

Leadership Responds to Activism: Coal Leaves the Capitol

Another post from Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club's Move Beyond Coal campaign.

Twenty four hours before 10,000 students are slated to descend on Washington urging Congress take strong and immediate action on global warming (Power Shift 2009), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have requested the Capitol Power Plant stop burning coal and instead switch to clean burning natural gas.

As the coal burning facility remaining in Washington D.C. the plant is a symbol of our country’s dependence on out-dated, dirty and dangerous energy sources. Sierra Club and our allies Friends of the Earth and Earthjustice, have been investigating this plant and just yesterday had sent a letter to Congressional leaders requesting their support to end coal burning in the District.

Today’s action shows change is here in Washington.  We have responsive leaders who are listening to Americans’ desire for clean energy and green jobs.  They can continue to build on this and show that we can and will solve climate change.  Today’s action also shows 10,000 young Americans that are coming here to the Power Shift 2009 gathering this weekend that democracy is alive and well in the Nation’s capitol.(We are a supporter of the conference).

This decision also comes as more than 2,500 are headed to Washington to demonstrate there is a growing national demand to move America beyond coal.  Those folks are still on their way for Monday’s protest, but now their message has changed:

“The more than 2,500 people coming to Washington to call for a solution to the climate crisis and an end to the use of coal are still coming because the climate is still in crisis and coal is still driving that crisis,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network.

The coal industry will not go quietly, and it seems intent of spending millions on trying to delay action on global warming.  Taking on the coal industry requires all of us who care about the future to work together.  We must all stand together.  And today we can celebrate that we have champions in Congress who are on our side and committed to clean energy.  Click here to thank Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid for their bold action. Because of them, the U.S. Capitol has already made great strides in improving efficiency, increasing recycling and reducing water use. Ending coal use at the Capitol Power Plant is the next significant step.

Stopping the use of coal at the Capitol Power Plant will help local residents breathe easier, but the positive impacts will stretch far beyond the District. Bold leadership in Washington is needed to reduce global warming emissions and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the new Administration to send a clear signal to cities and states across the country that after eight long years, America is finally serious about clean energy and green jobs.


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