Breaking New England’s Coal Addiction

On paper, coal looks like one of the cheapest ways to produce electricity. But the heavy costs it exacts on New England’s environment, the health of our families, and our economy is too big to justify.

CLF in Action

With tenacious legal and policy advocacy, CLF challenged coal plants across New England for violating environmental regulations and harming public health. We showed that these aging, outdated plants made people sick, were uneconomic, and stood in the way of progress towards our region’s clean energy future.

To that end, CLF worked with local communities and decision makers, as well as the regional electric system operator, to pursue clean energy and transmission alternatives that would allow for a swift and responsible phase out of coal from New England’s energy mix.

Our advocacy paid off and, by 2017, Massachusetts’ “filthy five” coal plants were shut down for good – including New England’s biggest coal plant, Brayton Point Station in Somerset, Massachusetts.

Now we’re focused on our region’s last dirty coal plants in New Hampshire and Connecticut – which are hanging on by a thin economic thread – with the goal of making New England entirely coal free.

What’s at Stake

In New England, emissions from coal-fired power plants once made up a disproportionate share of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

What’s more, the pollutants that rain down from coal-fired power plants cause an array of health problems, including heart attacks, asthma attacks, developmental delays in infants and children, hospitalizations, and even premature deaths. Communities that live in the shadow of these power plants are often economically disadvantaged and must bear the additional burden of lost wages due to illness and increased health care costs.

Coal plants also drag down New England’s economy. We spend huge sums to keep our remaining, aging fleet of coal plants in operation. To stay afloat, they pass along their inflated costs to ratepayers, lay off workers, and contribute less and less to the tax bases of their host communities.

To make matters worse, investment in old coal dwarfs the amount we spend on energy efficiency and renewable energy development – investments that create local jobs and new sources of revenue.

Our communities, our climate, and our economy simply can’t afford to keep coal in business in New England.