New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined with the Sierra Club on Thursday in a $50 million, four-year plan to campaign for replacing one-third of aging U.S. coal-fired power plants with clean energy.
"If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal," Bloomberg, founder of the news service that bears his name, said in a statement.
"Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to our water, and the leading cause of climate disruption," he said. The partnership with Sierra Club was announced outside a coal-fired power plant in Alexandria, Virginia.
The $50 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies will pay for a significant part of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, which is budgeted at $150 million for four years.
The campaign, begun in 2002, has stopped more than 150 new coal-fired plants from being built, the Sierra Club said.
The Bloomberg grant will help with the environmental group's goals of cutting 30 percent of U.S. coal production by 2020, reducing mercury pollution by 90 percent by 2020 and replacing a majority of coal with clean energy, the Sierra Club said.
Coal is the leading U.S. producer of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, and emits nearly half of all U.S. mercury pollution, which can cause developmental problems in infants and children and contribute to asthma attacks.