President stops development of new federal coal leases

by Jana Gastellum, Climate Program Director

Yesterday the President announced an indefinite halt to new leases of public lands for the purpose of coal mining. This bold move is a step in the right direction. Coal contributes nearly a third of the US’ carbon-dioxide pollution, a dangerous culprit that leads to global warming. With the effects of climate change more visible each week, every climate action matters now. We celebrate the President’s decision to halt coal mining leases.

Not only does dirty coal pollute our air, but it damages our health. In the US coal pollution related illnesses cost us billions of dollars in health care and tens of thousands of American lives. We have the technology to create clean energy–these tragic costs are unnecessary. With his actions this week, President Obama is signaling that it’s time to get serious about the damage caused by coal.

And what about the jobs created by the coal industry? What happens to those? We have the chance to create a whole new clean energy economy, one that creates stable family-wage jobs in both rural and urban areas throughout the country. In fact, the number of solar workers in America surpassed the number of coal workers a couple years ago. As the solar and wind industries grow, so do the jobs they support.

Here in Oregon we have a chance to lead the transition away from dirty coal (which contributes to about 25% of our climate pollution) and get serious about renewable energy. This upcoming legislative session OEC will be working to pass the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Bill. It will lead Oregon to a coal-free energy-mix and double our commitment to renewable energy. In an affirmation of the “Oregon way”, Oregon’s major utilities are joining us in supporting this bill. We’re all working together to create our new clean energy economy.

The President gets it, the utilities get it, and Oregonians get it. It’s time to transition off coal.

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The Healthy Climate bill and the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition bill are complementary. We need both for a stable climate, just like we need both speed limits and traffic lights for safe roads. Read more about the Healthy Climate Bill. 

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