Bloomberg Pledges to Shut Down Coal Plants by 2030

(CN) – Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg released a clean energy plan Friday calling for the rapid elimination of fossil fuel-burning power plants, setting a goal of closing all coal plants by 2030.

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg gestures while taking part in an on-stage conversation with former California Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

During a campaign stop in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Alexandria, Virginia, the former New York City mayor, Wall Street and media mogul and newly minted presidential candidate laid out his first platform planks on clean energy, declaring his intention to completely transition the U.S. to clean energy “as soon as humanly possible.”

Climate change has been one of Bloomberg’s major talking points since his late entry into the crowded Democratic primary field. He addressed scientists earlier this week in California alongside former governor and environmentalist Jerry Brown to discuss the problem, pointing to his 14% cut of New York City’s carbon emissions during his tenure as mayor.

Bloomberg’s fortune has not escaped his anti-emission work, either. He pledged $500 million in June to establish a partnership with the Sierra Club called Beyond Carbon, which seeks to eliminate coal power plants by 2030.

If elected president, Bloomberg named 2050 as his deadline for a total clean-energy transition. As a shorter-term benchmark, Bloomberg is aiming for 80% of America’s power to be provided by clean energy sources by 2028, promising that “energy will become not only carbon-free but also cheaper.”

He proposes speeding up the site-selection process for wind and solar energy projects, improving the permitting process for offshore wind projects, and “modernizing and expanding” the nation’s electrical grid to enable “greater consumer participation and two-way flows of energy and information.”

Along with all that building, expediting and investing, Bloomberg’s plan would take a hatchet to America’s fossil-fuel power plants. Coal would take the biggest blow— the former mayor promises the total elimination of all 251 coal-fired power plants in the U.S., again by 2030.

This puts him in direct opposition to President Donald Trump, who vocally supported the coal industry in his 2016 campaign and after taking office.

But the plan puts Bloomberg in line with his top Democratic rivals, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. Warren vowed in September to close all the nation’s coal plants within 10 years, and Biden and Sanders have also called for an abandonment of coal-fired plants.

Coal production in the U.S. has been on the decline since 2007, for which Bloomberg’s plan credits efforts he has spearheaded over the past decade, including his work with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

The coal industry’s issues go beyond activism, though: the past decade’s natural gas boom has made gas the fuel of choice for most power plants. The Energy Information Administration estimated that there were 336 coal power plants operating in the U.S. in 2018, a number dwarfed by the nation’s 1,854 natural gas plants.

Bloomberg’s plan takes aim at those too, saying that “stringent carbon and health pollutant standards for new gas plants will also be immediately implemented, avoiding construction and then stranding of a new generation of dirty fossil power plants.”

He also promises an end to fossil-fuel subsidies and a ban on drilling for gas, coal and oil on federal lands, a reversal of recent Trump administration policies that have encouraged such drilling.

Bloomberg’s plan also takes aim at the Environmental Protection Agency, promising to “ensure that environmental laws are actually enforced” after severe cutbacks at the agency and rollbacks of environmental regulations.

“[Bloomberg] will also restore the dignity, scientific integrity, and effectiveness of the EPA by immediately reversing President Trump’s dangerous rollback of clean air and clean water rules, tightening health and carbon-reduction standards, and greatly expanding enforcement,” his plan states.

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