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August 07, 2012

Thousands Demand a Coal-Free Future for Washington State

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Officials at Puget Sound Energy's (PSE) corporate headquarters in Washington had a lot to think about last week when clean-energy and public health advocates delivered 8,000 signatures to PSE's CEO demanding that the utility move beyond coal.

"Washingtonians know that dirty coal is not who we are, and it's certainly not where we want to go," said Seth Ballhorn, a Sierra Club organizer.

"We expect PSE to adequately account for the pollution liabilities and costs of their aging coal plant and evaluate whether sinking millions of ratepayer dollars into an outdated and increasingly expensive fossil fuel is a responsible decision," Ballhorn said.

It will be hard for PSE to ignore the petition. The utility and fellow owners of the Colstrip Generating Facility in Montana are also on the receiving end of a federal lawsuit for their dirty habits.

The EPA considers Colstrip to be among the dirtiest around. These energy executives habitually disregard the Clean Air Act. And many residents aren't aware that more than 30 percent of PSE energy comes from Colstrip.

"We are here to help PSE kick the coal habit. From PSE and its customers, to clean energy entrepreneurs, community leaders, and environmentalists -- all of us have a role to play," Ballhorn said.

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Clean air advocates also unveiled a new ad campaign that will run on buses throughout East King County (pictured). The ads will hold PSE accountable for not living up to its own advertising as a squeaky clean energy provider.

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"PSE promotes a green image. But burning toxic coal at one of the biggest polluting facilities in the country is simply contradictory to that promise," said Josh Nelson, Campaign Manager from CREDO Action. "Washingtonians don't need a watered down promise of a clean energy future. They need companies like PSE, who can make this vision a reality, to actually deliver." 

Washingtonians are eager for a clean energy future. Last year, the state committed to completely phase out its coal plants by 2025. But there's still work to be done in terms of the importing of coal energy from neighboring states.

"This coal addiction is not a legacy we can afford to leave to our children," said Kathe Low, a Sammamish resident and concerned mother.

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"We know that PSE is committed to clean energy and has made serious investments, so why stop the progress now? With the growing costs associated with the coal plant, there is no time to waste for PSE to make a real plan to end its unhealthy reliance on coal," Low said.

Congratulations to the Sierra Club's Washington activists and friends for holding their energy providers accountable! Learn more at CoalFreePSE.org.

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