Greenhouse gas emissions from coal burning are the leading contributor to global warming, our generation's greatest environmental challenge. In the U.S., coal-fired power plants are the single largest source of carbon dioxide emissions.
Yet coal is not only a root cause of global warming, but poses many other disastrous impacts.
Coal-fired power plants are the largest unregulated source of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, in the U.S. They’re also the major source of sulfur dioxide emissions in the U.S. which causes acid rain, haze in National Parks and Wilderness areas, and fine particulate matter which contributes to lung cancer, heart attacks, and even premature death.
It doesn’t end there. Coal mining destroys habitat and pollutes our air and water, while coal-fired power plants consume massive amounts of water to operate, straining our rivers and aquifers.
At the end of it all, millions of tons of coal ash laced with toxic metals is dumped every year in landfills and unstable holding ponds. Coal ash is in fact, one of the largest hazardous waste streams in the country.
Coal carries a tremendous toll on our health. Estimates indicate that coal-fired power plants cost our country nearly $100 billion every year in increased health expenses, lost work hours, decreased productivity, and premature deaths.
Coal is dirty and costs our society dearly. That’s why WildEarth Guardians is confronting coal production and consumption to accelerate the transition away from this dirtiest of dirty fuels. Our aim is to expose the true cost of coal and create space for clean energy to take root.
WildEarth Guardians is confronting coal at many levels:
- We are holding the line and preventing the construction of new coal-fired power plants in the West.
- We are spurring the retirement of existing coal-fired power plants.
- We are enforcing the Clean Air Act against coal-fired power plants, providing an incentive to transition to clean energy.
- We are protecting the west’s most imperiled wildlife, fish, and plants from the harmful impacts of air pollution from coal-fired power plants.
- We are challenging coal leasing and mining in the Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, the source of 43% of all coal burned in the U.S.
- We are tackling coal mining and coal-fired power plants in the Colorado Plateau region of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. Our vision is a coal-free Colorado Plateau.