Michael Bloomberg, CNN:
Imagine hearing about a health breakthrough that will save 5,500 lives this year. An innovative new drug? An advanced new medical procedure? A new miracle diet? No. The breakthrough has been a grassroots movement to clean up the air we breathe by closing down coal-fired power plants and replacing them with cleaner energy.
Though many people don’t realize it, coal is hazardous to your health. For every 50 gigawatts of coal America takes offline, we save approximately $2.3 billion in related health care costs each year. In fact, closing just a single plant can prevent 146 asthma attacks, 47 heart attacks, and 29 premature deaths a year, according to the Clean Air Task Force.
Many of coal’s defenders refer to these efforts as a “war on coal” — without mentioning the actual death toll. Coal is still killing 7,500 people annually. That’s 7,500 too many, but it’s down from 13,000 just four years ago, when Bloomberg Philanthropies teamed up with the Sierra Club to set an ambitious goal: retiring one-third of the U.S. coal fleet by 2020.
To achieve that goal, we developed a campaign called Beyond Coal to help empower communities to persuade utilities and businesses to transition to cleaner, low-carbon sources of power — including solar, wind and natural gas.