Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Contact: Krista Collard, 415.977.5619,
Anne Hedges: 406-461-9546,
Melissa Ahern, 509-358-7982,
Eric Rehm: 206-354-3459,

Campaign Vows to Push Puget Sound Energy to Quit its Coal Dependence

SEATTLE- Today the Sierra Club launched a bold new campaign, "Coal-Free PSE," to push area electric utility Puget Sound Energy beyond coal in Washington. After years of promoting an image of being a clean energy provider, PSE’s dirty secret is that more than 30% of its electricity in Washington comes from dirty coal.  

“The Pacific Northwest is leading the charge in the race for a clean energy economy with the Beyond Coal campaign’s victories in the retirement of coal-fired power plants TransAlta in Washington and Boardman in Oregon," said Bruce Nilles, Senior Campaign Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. "With the launch of our Coal-Free PSE campaign, we urge Puget Sound Energy CEO Kimberly Harris to join thousands of Washington residents in their commitment to end our dependence on dirty coal,” added Nilles.

Despite Puget Sound Energy’s public commitment to providing clean and renewable energy, the utility has been importing coal power from the Colstrip Generating Facility in Montana, an old and dirty coal-fired plant in Montana

"Colstrip's pollution has been harming neighboring landowners and ranchers for decades, causing outcries from health professionals,” said Anne Hedges, Program Director for the Montana Environmental Information Center, adding, “It is high time that Colstrip's owners, including the largest owner, Puget Sound Energy, quit putting profits over public health and environmental protection."

Coal-Free PSE campaign aims to mobilize Washington ratepayers to demonstrate an overwhelmingly distaste for their hard-earned energy dollars being thrown away on propping up an outdated, dirty coal-fired power plant like Colstrip.

Dr. Melissa Ahern, Associate Professor at Washington State University, has spent the last five years researching the effects of the coal mining industry on population health. "National studies continue to show that health care impacts and costs from coal are greater than expected. Now we need to know the specifics about the Colstrip plant,” said Dr. Ahern.

Eric Rehm, a community activist from Bainbridge Island, co-founded Positive Energy, a non-profit group which runs a community based residential energy efficiency program in collaboration with PSE. “We want to work with PSE to create a clean energy future in Washington through energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy generation,” Rehm said. 

The first phase of Coal-Free PSE will urge PSE and CEO Kimberly Harris to end its reliance on coal through a grassroots petition drive kicking off today, letting PSE know that Washington ratepayers are committed to clean energy solutions and moving beyond coal.