Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor
- Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will spend another $500 million to continue his war against the coal industry.
- Bloomberg will fund environmentalist campaigns at the state and local level to replace coal plants with wind and solar energy.
- Conservative critics said Bloomberg’s campaign will kill thousands of jobs and leave communities devastated.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will spend $500 million to close every remaining U.S. coal-fired power plant and stop the expansion of natural gas.
Bloomberg will fund environmental activist lobbying campaigns in state legislatures, city councils and public utility commissions. Activists will demand officials replace coal plants with renewable energy, not natural gas.
“We’re in a race against time with climate change, and yet there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this issue for at least another two years,” Bloomberg said in a statement Thursday.
For Democratic politicians and environmentalists looking to make climate change the top issue in the 2020 elections, Bloomberg’s funding is most welcome. For conservatives and the coal industry, it’s a nightmare.
“This is about feeding the soldiers of the green left to affect the outcome of the 2020 elections,” Dan Kish, a distinguished senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Bloomberg will announce his “Beyond Carbon” plan during his commencement speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With this new spending, Bloomberg will have committed roughly $1 billion to the climate crusade since leaving the mayor’s office.
“This campaign will ensure that after the 2020 election, the next Administration inherits a country on its way to a 100 percent clean energy economy,” Bloomberg said.
Beyond Carbon has four goals — lobby states to pass 100 percent “clean” energy laws, funnel more money to environmentalists, expand existing anti-fossil fuel campaigns and get “climate champions” elected to state and local office. (RELATED: EPA Reassigns Top Bureaucrat Critics See As Key Resistor Of Trump’s Agenda)
Bloomberg declined to run for president in 2020, but pledged to use his vast wealth to help dismantle the fossil fuel industry, enact gun control and defeat President Donald Trump.
Outside of election funding, the Sierra Club has been a major beneficiary of Bloomberg’s largess. Bloomberg has given more than $150 million the Sierra Club’s anti-fossil fuel campaigns since 2011.
More than 280 coal plants have closed or been slated for closure since 2010, The New York Times reported. Beyond Carbon, Bloomberg says, will aim to close the remaining 241 coal plants by 2030.
Coal power generation and mining employed 160,119 American workers in 2016, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The coal industry has been in decline over the past decade due to federal and state regulations as well as competition from natural gas.
“The loss of fuel-secure electricity sources, especially coal-fueled power plants, pose an increasing threat to the power grid, as well as to national security,” said Michelle Bloodworth, president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which represents coal producers, utilities and railroads.
“While a political campaign aimed at closing all coal plants may make for an attractive soundbite in some quarters, it is not a responsible plan that our policymakers should adopt,” Bloodworth told TheDCNF.
ACCE estimates coal-fired power plants directly employ 28,000 as of April 2019, Bloodworth said. The latest jobs numbers for May 2019 shows 52,900 coal miners were employed.
The cost to replace all that shuttered coal capacity would also be staggering, ClearView Energy Partners director Kevin Book told The Times. He estimated replacing coal with wind and solar power — and the necessary battery storage — would cost $950 billion.
“It’s not going to be easy to do what he’s talking about doing,” Book told the Times.
“We will employ the same advocacy, legal, and electoral strategies that have proven so successful in retiring coal-fired power plants … and also in passing gun safety background check laws in states around the country,” Bloomberg said.
Conservative critics, however, see Bloomberg’s campaign as an attack on working men and women, often union members, that used to be the backbone of the Democratic Party.
“Bloomberg just made a half-billion dollar contribution to Democrats, who have abandoned American working people and the unions who represent them for the faculty lounge and the students they brainwash to worry about the weather,” Kish said.