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May 23, 2013

Big New Investments in Wind Energy Across the Country and Around the World

Wind (2)After spending last weekend at the Heartland Coalfield Alliance's retreat in the Illinois coal basin region, I'm more inspired than ever. Listening to such amazing, committed people talk about their tireless work to move beyond coal was really exciting. These activists know the potential for clean energy in their region -- especially wind power. And there has been some blockbuster news about wind in recent days.

Wind power is growing like gangbusters across the country, and employs more than 75,000 workers across 43 states. Just last week, Warren Buffett's Mid-American Energy Co. announced it will make a $1.9 billion investment in Iowa wind power, which Governor Branstad called, "The largest economic development investment in the history of the state."

The project will lower energy bills, be built at no net cost to customers, generate millions of dollars for landowners, and "enhance economic development and provide in excess of $360 million in additional property tax revenues over the next 30 years," according to the Des Moines Register.

The clean energy stakes got even higher last week when Facebook announced it had chosen Iowa over Nebraska as the location for a $1.5 billion new facility. As state Senator Galen Hadley wrote in an op-ed:

The fact that Iowa generates 10 times as much electricity from wind as Nebraska was a major factor in [Facebook's] decision. We are dead last among our neighboring states in wind development despite the fact we have better wind potential than most of them, in large part because of public policies that have not supported wind development. I represent the Kearney area and know that we have everything but the wind energy component to offer projects such as Facebook.

State officials are seeing the economic boost that clean energy brings with it - a boost that doesn't come with the terrible health and environmental effects that dirty fuels have.

But the growth in wind power is  an international trend as well. The World Wind Energy Association recently announced that Iceland's move into wind energy makes it the 100th country to utilize wind power.

If that doesn't seem appropriate for the upcoming "Global Wind Day" on June 15, I don't know what does!

The Sierra Club and our activists and allies across the Illinois coal basin, Appalachia, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond, are all proud to join in on the Global Wind Day celebration. Last year we celebrated with events across the country, including on the Jersey Shore, and this year's events are aimed at convincing our leaders to switch from dirty fuels to clean energy.

You can get involved by visiting the Global Wind Day Facebook page. From there, try out the G8 Wake Up Call where you can send a message to a world leader asking them to move towards clean energy.

There are Global Wind Day events all over the world where attendees can tour wind farms, take action, and much more. I encourage you to check out the website and find one near you. Together we can move beyond dirty fuels and secure a clean energy economy for the U.S. to fight climate disruption. Let's join the rest of the world in calling for clean energy that won't pollute our air and water.

-- Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Director

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