Transcript of Michael Bloomberg at the July 2011 announcement of hios $50m grant to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign

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A Transcript of Michael Bloomberg at the July 2011 announcement of hios $50m grant to the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign was posted by Joe Romm on his blog.[1]

Transcript

Bloomberg's statement, a recorder and transcribed by Romm, was:

"I’m joining the Sierra Club on another front in the battle for clean air and that is in ending America’s reliance on coal-fired power plants specifically by working to phase out existing power plants like the one right behind me [in Alexandria, Va]. And we’re calling this campaign Beyond Coal. It’s especially timely to put the focus on coal on a day when the region is under Code Orange alert for pollution levels considered dangerous to children and other particularly vulnerable people."
"Every year, coal burning power plants like this one cause more than 200,000 asthma attacks nationwide, many of them affecting children. Coal pollution also kills 13,000 people every year and costs us a hundred billion dollars in medical expenses. Just think about that. 13,000 people from something that’s planned and is something that is going to happen again next year and the year after and the year after unless we do something about it. The burning of coal does terrible harm to children, mothers, and families across the country. Every year coal pollution causes birth defects and developmental problems for children. And we can change it. There’s just no question about the science".
"It’s long been a passion of mine, public health, both as a private citizen and mayor. I’ve always thought improvements that we can make to public health help millions live longer healthier lives and shame on us if we don’t. It just makes an awful lot more sense to prevent illness rather than to just worry about curing it. It would be great if people never got sick and we could direct our resources elsewhere."
"And I’ve always been proud of the work that Bloomberg Philanthropies is doing around the world that will help improve public health and save millions of lives. And at the center of both of those efforts is a common goal – and that is clean air. By eliminating tobacco smoke from New York City’s indoor work places as well as public parks and beaches we are helping people to breathe easier and live longer and I’m proud to say in New York City, life expectancy has increased by 1 year and seven months in the last 10 years, and life expectancy in New York is now greater than in the country as a whole. So for all of you here in Washington and around the country, if you want to live longer, come to New York. Now, here’s the other side."
"I’m joining the Sierra Club on another front in the battle for clean air and that is in ending America’s reliance on coal-fired power plants specifically by working to phase out existing power plants like the one right behind me. And we’re calling this campaign Beyond Coal. It’s especially timely to put the focus on coal on a day when the region is under Code Orange alert for pollution levels considered dangerous to children and other particularly vulnerable people. Every year, coal burning power plants like this one cause more than 200,000 asthma attacks nationwide, many of them affecting children. Coal pollution also kills 13,000 people every year and costs us a hundred billion dollars in medical expenses. Just think about that. 13,000 people from something that’s planned and is something that is going to happen again next year and the year after and the year after unless we do something about it. The burning of coal does terrible harm to children, mothers, and families across the country. Every year coal pollution causes birth defects and developmental problems for children. And we can change it. There’s just no question about the science. You can see the results, you just look at the air people breathe and you look at their medical history. The correlation is very clear."
"And I’m pleased to announce today that Bloomberg philanthropies is making a pledge of 50 million dollars over the next four years to support the Sierra Club’s grassroots new Beyond Coal campaign. And I’m making a commitment of my own time and energy to that campaign as well. And I’m doing this because it’s time for America to find a new energy path. One that takes us beyond coal. Beyond the soot that burning coal puts into our air beyond the mercury that burning coal puts into our water, and beyond the health consequences that burden so many people in big cities, in suburbs, and in rural areas across this wonderful country. The time has come for our nation to begin transitioning away from coal-fired power plants towards cleaner, more efficient, and more cost effective energy sources. If we succeed, and I fully believe that we will, we will save millions of lives and we will help millions of children avoid asthma and its debilitating effects."
"For nearly a decade, the Sierra Club has been leading a coalition of organizations working to stop construction of coal-fired power plants across the country, and to support production of alternative energy sources. They’ve done the research that demonstrates just how much damage a coal plant can do to a community, polluting its air, polluting its water, and how little economic benefit it actually brings. They work with local groups and responsible companies in the energy sector to develop alternative plants that wouldn’t raise prices, but would produce cleaner energy, solar, wind, and natural gas. And in fact, the company that owns the plant behind me does have some natural gas fired power plants."
"Nobody suggests that they shouldn’t have a profitable business and generate and sell energy. We want them to do that. We just want them to do that in a way reduces the damage to all of us. And we think that if they do it that way, it will also enhance their profitability. It has worked what the Sierra Club has done so far. Since 2002, they stopped the construction of more than 150 plants all over the country and in every case they have worked with local utilities and local governments and local community groups to develop a plan to replace that dirty energy with energy from cleaner sources. And leading this effort, what they found was that in communities around the country, they won support from both Republicans and Democrats because both benefit from clean water and clean air."
"And unlike in Washington, at the local level, Republicans and Democrats can actually work together to solve problems. Now today, we are beginning a new phase in this effort. The money we are committing to the new Beyond Coal campaign won’t clear our air or water, but it will help people across America in small towns and big cities and neighborhoods achieve those goals themselves. It will help them challenge the operations of the dirtiest coal-fired plants in the nation, let public service commissions know that cost-effective alternatives exist. Get out the facts about the true comparative cost of coal vs. solar and wind, or natural gas in generating electricity. Reveal that natural gas plants create just as many jobs as coal-fired plants do and that solar and wind creates many more local jobs."
"Inform their neighbors about the damage that coal-fired power plants do to their health and their children’s health. It will help stop power plants when they try to strip the requirements from the Clean Air Act, and blow the whistle on any lawmaker that endangers any of our children’s lungs by weakening the EPA’s ability to act. The fact is, the cost of coal is going up, and the cost of generating power using wind turbines, solar panels, and natural gas is coming down. In addition, many coal plants are very old, and are approaching retirement age. And rather than have public utilities spend billions of Americans hard earned dollars to renovate them, we will work with the utilities to find better ways to invest that money. So we can retire old coal-fired power plants and replace them with cleaner sources of electrical power."
"Now I understand this will be a controversial initiative. Banning smoking in bars and restaurants was controversial too. People said it would be terrible for New York City’s economy and the tourists would stop coming to our city. In fact, it has been great for our economy and more tourists are coming then ever before. And we think moving beyond coal will be good for our nation’s economy in the same way. Because the facts are that even though coal burning power plant may seem to have a cheap price tag, the real price tag is hidden. Hidden in medical bills we have to pay, and environmental cleanups that we have to pay for."
"Now over all, the Sierra Club will need $150 million dollars we calculate to succeed in this campaign. And that’s why we’re asking the Sierra Club’s 1.1 million members, its funders, and others to support this campaign as well. We are confident of success. We know there are millions of people across America committed to putting our country on a new energy path. And the success of Bloomberg philanthropies world wide tobacco control and traffic safety projects, which like Beyond Coal, rely on grass-root activisms, show that such efforts can work. Bloomberg philanthropies is committing 50 million dollars. We got to get others to come along. I’ve never asked anybody to do something I’m not willing to do myself and that I haven’t done first. Okay, I’ve put up 50 million bucks, now’s the time for everyone else."
"If you want to improve the lives of Americans, this is a concrete way to do it. When you write that check, you have every reason to look in the mirror and know you made a difference for others but incidentally, and perhaps not unimportantly, you’re making a difference for yourself and for your children as well. This is about the air we breathe, the water we drink, the fish that we eat. It is about our lives today. Before I turn the floor over, in this case the deck, back over to MaryAnn, let me make two points."
"First, in New York City, we’ve been moving past coal for quite some time. Today only a small portion, roughly 7 % of our electricity, comes from coal-fired plants, and that’s a small enough amount that converting to natural gas won’t really have an impact on prices or reliability as long as they are responsible replacements coming on board. And it would be even better to replace some of that capacity with wind, solar, or increased energy efficiency. As you may know, we’ve been working to bring offshore wind power to our city and we’ve been working to put solar panels on the old, unused landfill sites in our five boroughs."
"Secondly, even though the current deadlock on energy policy in Washington is discouraging, there is real progress happening in cities across the country and around the world. As chair of the C40 climate leadership group, an organization that includes many of the world’s great cities, I am well aware of the extraordinary progress that people in many nations are making alternative sources of power. In New York City 4 years ago we launched PlanYC, our agenda for creating an environmentally sustainable and more livable New York City. Our most recent update of PlanYC calls for public and private cooperation to create solar power farms on decommissioned city landfills as I said, and for nearly 10 years the success of the Sierra Club that they’ve had promoting alternatives to coal-fired plant power, show that Americans from coast to coast want to breathe clean air. And that’s why we’re here today with the Alexandria GenOn coal burning plant as our backdrop. The people of this community are not waiting on Congress to act. They know the dangers of coal and what it can do to their communities, their families, and their livelihoods, and let the operators of the GenOn Plant know change is coming."
"I am proud to join them in the Beyond Coal campaign to clean our air and water, keep our health, and protect the environment we give our children and as the father of two daughters, I know I have an obligation to the next generation to do all we can to clean our planet."

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