In the War on Coal, the Battle of Oregon will likely be a decisive defeat for the black combustible sedimentary rock. On Thursday, the Oregon Legislature secured final passage for the Clean Energy and Coal Transition Act, which will phase coal out of the Beaver State‘s energy portfolio by 2035. The bill also mandates that the state generate at least half of its power from renewable sources by 2040. Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign the bill into law in the next several weeks.

Coal, fossil fuels, coal photo

Although the motion is impressive on its own merits, banning coal in Oregon is not necessarily as heavy a lift as it might be in other states. The state currently maintains only one coal power plant, which was set to go offline in 2020 regardless of the bill’s passage. However, Oregon does receive 33% of its electricity from coal burned in nearby Montana, Wyoming and Utah. The support for the bill from Oregon’s two major utility companies is also notably unique.

Involved parties were nonetheless required to invest great energy and thought into passing the progressive legislation. “It was a negotiated process and everyone had different reasons for entering,” says Noah Long of the US Natural Resources Defense Council. “For the utility companies it means long-term certainty.” While the national Clean Power Plan is tied up in the Supreme Court, Long suggests that the utility companies in Oregon were encouraged to take a seat at the table in what they see as inevitable shift towards clean energy in the United States.

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Across the southern border of Oregon, California is pursuing a clean energy future with a somewhat different approach. Rather than banning coal completely, California has implemented the ambitious goal of generating half of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. “The Oregon approach is just a much more direct and much more explicit way of achieving the same ends,” says Samuel Adams of the World Resources Institute. Vermont, Hawaii, and New York also stand out as leaders in the movement towards a clean energy economy.

Via New Scientist/EcoWatch

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