The following is the text of Mike Bloomberg’s remarks as prepared for the announcement of a new $64M commitment to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign and other organizations working to move America beyond coal on Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 in Washington, D.C.:
“Good afternoon, everyone.
“Yesterday, the Trump Administration formally announced its effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which was intended to limit carbon pollution from power plants. The Plan never went into effect because of litigation, and while repealing it is a mistake, the truth of the matter is that we are already making great progress limiting carbon pollution from power plants – and we are going to keep right on doing it, even without leadership from Washington.
“In announcing the repeal, the head of the EPA declared that ‘the war on coal is over.’ He couldn’t be more wrong, because the war on coal has never been led by Washington. It’s being led by market forces that are providing cleaner and cheaper forms of energy, by communities that don’t want their air and water poisoned by coal pollution, and by cities, states, and companies who want to save money and protect public health. These are the groups fighting the war on coal, all across America – and they are winning.
“Over the last six years, nearly half of the nation’s coal-fired power plants – 259 of 523 – have closed or announced plans to. That includes eleven coal-fired plants since President Trump took office earlier this year. And let me re-iterate: All this happened even though the Clean Power Plan never went into effect.
“As a result of those closures, the number of Americans killed by coal pollution has dropped by more than 40 percent, from 13,000 every year to about 7,500. In other words: The war on coal is saving tens of thousands of lives. And we won’t stop fighting until we save every last one.
“In addition to killing people, coal pollution is also the single biggest contributor to the carbon emissions that are driving climate change. Now, whether you believe what scientists tell us about climate change or not, there is no debating the fact that coal pollution is terrible for our health. And that’s why so many communities across America, in red and blue states, have been pushing their local power plants and utilities to transition to cleaner forms of energy.
“The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign helps them do that, and Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported the campaign since 2011. I think it’s fair to say we’ve made more progress than anyone thought possible back then. But we face a new challenge now.
“Not only is the EPA rolling back the Clean Power Plan, the Energy Department is requesting a massive taxpayer bailout of failing coal plants. It’s one of the worst ideas Washington has ever come up with, which is saying a lot. Why should taxpayers be forced to subsidize an industry that may kill them, when cleaner energy sources are available, and also cheaper?
“Think about that. The Trump administration wants taxpayers to pay more… for an earlier death. That’s like trying to sell us the Brooklyn Bridge – right before they push us off the ledge.
“Hopefully the independent agency overseeing this matter will reject the administration’s request for a bailout of failing coal-fired power plants. But we aren’t going to wait to find out.
Today, Bloomberg Philanthropies is committing another $64 million to move the U.S. off of coal power. This funding includes $30 million to support the Beyond Coal campaign through 2020, as well as funding for other groups – like the League of Conservation Voters – that are working to help speed the transition to cleaner energy sources at the state and local level.
“Many states have voluntarily set far higher targets than they would have had to under the Clean Power Plan, because clean energy is now cheaper than coal. In the EPA administrator’s home state of Oklahoma, the percentage of power generated by coal has fallen by half. The state now gets more of its power from wind alone than it does from coal. Not because of any federal requirement, but because it is cheaper and cleaner, and that’s what people want – not just in Oklahoma, but all over the country. Cities and businesses are also setting their own ambitious targets for clean energy.
“By speeding that progress, our goal is to retire two-thirds of coal-fired power plants by the end of 2020 – so that we can keep saving more lives, and keeping driving down carbon emissions to new lows.
“Over the last decade, the U.S. has led the world in reducing carbon emissions, despite the fact that Congress never passed a single law requiring it. Thanks mostly to coal plant closures, we’re already about halfway to the goal we set under the Paris Agreement. The Beyond Coal campaign – together with actions by cities, states, and businesses – will take us the rest of the way there.
“The Trump Administration can formally exit the Paris agreement in November 2020, but Americans in both parties have already spoken loud and clear, and the message has been:
We’re still in, and we’ll do it without Washington.
“To help them, Bloomberg Philanthropies joined California Governor Jerry Brown to create what we call ‘America’s Pledge.’ We’ll measure and publicly report America’s progress in driving down emissions, so that the rest of the world can hold us accountable for results – just as every other nation is doing through the Paris Agreement. We will also identify opportunities for further action, so that America can continue to lead the way.
“The last few months have shown us just how real the risks of climate change are. There’s no reason to debate whether this or that storm was caused by climate change. Ocean temperatures are rising, and warmer water fuels more violent storms. That’s not a theory – it’s a fact. The more greenhouse gases we pump into the air, the more violent storms we can expect.
“A CEO who invested in an outdated technology, with shrinking market share, that put the public in danger, and that dismissed catastrophic risks, would be booted out the door. Shareholders would never stand for it. And American voters shouldn’t stand for it from their leaders either.
“The federal government should be doing more to help people who are losing jobs as the coal industry continues shrinking – not giving them false promises. And that’s work our foundation has supported, even as the Trump administration has pulled back. Bloomberg Philanthropies has provided grants to organizations that are working in coal country to help people gain new skills and find good jobs in growing industries.
“This is an urgent challenge – and we need our leaders in D.C. to step up and meet it. Coal jobs aren’t coming back. Pretending they are will only give false hope to regions that the federal government has failed for too long. And trying to force taxpayers to subsidize them back into existence will only lead to more death and disease.
“We don’t have to settle for dirtier air, lost jobs, or a retreat on combating climate change. The American people can take a stand.
“The war on coal is a fight for America’s health, our economy, and our environment – and it’s a fight we are going to win, no matter what anyone in Washington says.”