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March 22, 2013

"The Era of Coal is Over": Los Angeles Will Move Beyond Coal by 2025

LAcoal-image-croppedToday, after a three-year campaign by tens of thousands across the city, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined our L.A. Beyond Coal activists to publicly announce this blockbuster news: L.A. will stop using coal by 2025.

"The era of coal is over," said Mayor Villaraigosa, when he first broke the news earlier this week.  Villaraigosa was joined by Al Gore, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, California businessman Tom Steyer, and allies from across the city on March 22 to make the announcement.

This is a groundbreaking decision, a historic victory that catapults L.A. and Villaraigosa to the front of the pack when it comes to clean energy and American innovation. By going coal-free, the city is showing the rest of the nation that it's possible to power a thriving, growing, major American city without relying on coal that threatens our the health of our families, and the future of our planet.

I can't emphasize enough how big a victory this is. By abandoning coal, the L.A. Department of Water and Power will slash its climate-disrupting carbon emissions 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2025, while L.A.'s carbon emissions will drop by 40 percent -- an achievement unmatched in the nation.

If you do one thing today, I hope you'll watch this video that tells the story of this campaign, and the years of hard work by tens of thousands of local residents, allies and partners that made this victory possible. You'll understand why I'm so optimistic that we can clean up our air and water, turn the corner on climate change, and create jobs and prosperity in the process!

Listen to Mayor Villaraigosa talk about the decision:

L.A. currently gets nearly 40 percent of its power from two aging out-of-state coal plants -- the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) in Arizona and the Intermountain Power Project (IPP) in Utah. These plants have become a financial liability for Angelenos as a result of the necessary and required retrofits at both power facilities, which are decades old.

I'm proud to say that our L.A. Beyond Coal campaign activists and supporters, along with countless other organizations, have been at the forefront of this transition from coal to renewable energy. Critical allies in this complex campaign included the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), who helped greatly in pushing coal out of L.A. The Los Angeles Business Council was a leader in putting together the rooftop solar program. Two organizations, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) and Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), were leaders on the energy efficiency components of this effort.

"By leading on a transition away from coal, Los Angeles is showing how we can transform our economy to create jobs, clean our air and water, and improve the health of our environment," says Evan Gillespie of L.A. Beyond Coal.

Evan says that when Mayor Villaraigosa took office in 2005, the city got nearly half its power from coal and a measly three percent from clean energy. But the mayor and a great, diverse coalition of groups pushed for more clean energy to bring jobs to the city and to help clean up the air.

Los Angeles was the first city in California to be powered by 20 percent clean energy. "In the past year alone, L.A. has locked in enough clean-energy commitments to power 330,000 homes with solar -- that's basically the equivalent of Cleveland or Minneapolis," Evan says.

L.A. is home to a new rooftop solar program -- the largest in the nation -- and the city has an energy-efficiency program that's been creating jobs while saving residents money and energy. By moving  beyond coal, Los Angeles will reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, grow its local economy with new clean-energy jobs, and shrink its carbon footprint.

We applaud Mayor Villaraigosa and the city of Los Angeles for providing visionary leadership, for taking the lead in moving beyond coal, and for bringing clean air and clean energy jobs to one of America's most celebrated cities.

Join me in thanking him here!

-- Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Campaign Director

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