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January 28, 2013

Iowa Activists Push Country Beyond Big Coal Milestone

Iowa chapter executive committee

Last week, the Sierra Club and anybody who loves clean air celebrated a milestone after a landmark settlement in Iowa pushed the total amount of coal generation retired since 2010 in the U.S. to more than 50,000 megawatts -- that's like taking the emissions of nearly 40 million cars off the road each year.

There probably wasn't a more fitting place for this to happen than in Iowa, a state where more than a quarter of energy generation comes from renewable wind. The achievement happened after the Sierra Club and Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy Company agreed to a deal to phase out seven coal-fired boilers, modernize and clean two boilers, and build a large solar installation at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

"Clean air, clean water, and a booming clean-energy economy are part of an Iowa legacy that I want to leave for my children and grandchildren," says Pam Mackey Taylor, Chapter Energy Chair of the Sierra Club in Iowa. "Coal's days are numbered here in Iowa."

Iowa windMidAmerican's announcement comes after the Sierra Club last year notified the utility of Clean Air Act violations at three plants. The agreement resolved these violations and at the same time brought the total number of coal plants retired or announced to retire since 2010 to 130 plants and 50,717 megawatts, almost one sixth of the nation's entire coal fleet.

In Iowa, MidAmerican Energy is one of two major utilities that power the state. Pam says the company has made major shifts to renewables and this development has put a huge dent in Big Coal's grip in the state.

"MidAmerican is one of the main providers of wind energy in Iowa. We know that they have experience in renewables and they should be able to keep moving in that direction," she says.

The wind energy industry in Iowa accounts for more than 6,000 jobs, according to the Iowa Wind Energy Association.

"When you add turbines, you’re adding jobs. Manufacturing, transmission lines, maintenance work -- these things add jobs."

Congratulations to our Iowa activists for helping move the state, and the country, beyond coal! View our infographic (scroll down) to learn more about this remarkable achievement! 

-- Brian Foley

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