Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards $50 Million to Sierra Club

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a four-year, $50 million grant to the Sierra Club in support of its nationwide campaign to eliminate coal-fired power plants, the Washington Post reports.

The gift from Bloomberg, a longtime supporter of environmentally friendly policies, is the largest ever by the New York City mayor to an environmental cause. The Sierra Club plans to use the funds to expand its Beyond Coal campaign, doubling the number of full-time staff it employs in forty-six states from one hundred to two hundred. Most of the new employees will be engaged in grassroots organizing, while others will focus on litigation or social media-driven public outreach efforts.

With Congress and the White House unable to agree on legislation imposing nationwide limits on greenhouse emissions, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups have begun to allocate more resources to climate change efforts at the state and local levels. "We're putting our faith in local communities to protect public heath and promote clean energy," said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. "Congress has failed to do the job on that. We're confident local communities can do the job where Congress hasn't."

Lisa Camooso Miller, a spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, offered a different view, arguing that the Sierra Club's plan is unrealistic given that almost half the electricity in the U.S. is generated by coal-fired plants. "If their program were successful, where does the Sierra Club suggest we get our energy?" asked Miller. "Coal is American. It's affordable. It adds to our quality of life."

Juliet Eilperin. "Mayor Bloomberg Gives $50 Million to Fight Coal-Fired Power Plants." Washington Post 07/21/2011.