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Bloomberg Pledges $500M to Get Rid of Coal, Slow Natural Gas Production

Michael Bloomberg is giving away more of his personal fortune to advance his radical environmental agenda, this time pledging $500 million to shutter every coal mine in the United States and slow the production of cheap, clean, and plentiful natural gas.

The New York Times reported on the former mayor of New York City’s Beyond Carbon campaign.

“The effort will bypass Washington, where Mr. Bloomberg has said national action appears unlikely because of a divided Congress and a president who denies the established science of climate change,” the Times reported.

“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 released before he announced his financial pledge in a commencement address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we.”

The Times reported:

A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg said most of the money would be spent over the next three years, though the time frame could be extended. It will fund lobbying efforts by environmental groups — in state legislatures, City Councils and public utility commissions — that aim to close coal plants and replace them with wind, solar and other renewable power. Part of the cash also will go toward efforts to elect local lawmakers who prioritize clean energy.

The campaign will be based on the need to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change, but will also emphasize the economic benefits of switching to clean energy.

The Times reported that more than 280 coal plants have been shut down since 2010, many because of the harsh regulations imposed by the Obama administration.

Bloomberg wants to close down the remaining 241 plants in the U.S. by 2030.

Bloomberg has announced he will not run for the Democrat 2020 presidential nomination, but fighting climate change is becoming a major plank in many candidates’ platforms. However, none have joined Bloomberg so far in wanting to slow down natural gas production.

And, in fact, according to the federal Energy Information Agency, natural gas not only benefits consumers with affordable energy but has helped the environment by reducing CO2 emissions.

Even the Progressive Policy Institute produced a report in 2014 titled “Exporting U.S. Natural Gas: The Benefits Outweigh the Risks”:

Not only has the shale gas boom benefited the economy, but we have seen environmental benefits as well. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 3.4 percent from 2011 to 2012.8 This reduction can be attributed to many factors, but fuel switching (coal to natural gas) in electricity generation has played a major role, as electricity production in 2012 accounted for 32 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

And many are skeptical about Bloomberg’s campaign, including Karen Harbert, president of the American Gas Association, who said in the Times report that without natural gas, renewable energy “would be stagnant” and the resource is “foundational in our energy landscape.”

Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners, a research firm, said Bloomberg’s campaign is “a tall order” and estimated that replacing coal with wind and solar power could cost as much as $800 billion and even more for storage.

“It’s not going to be easy to do what he’s talking about doing,” Book said in the Timesreport.

The Times noted that Bloomberg has already donated $150 million to the Sierra Club and other environmental activist groups.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.