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Taking Aim at PacifiCorp’s Coal Baggage

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While utility company PacifiCorp is hatching plans for more coal mining and more burning in the American West, WildEarth Guardians is stepping up to defend the climate and clean energy and put these plans to rest.

If you recall, Portland, OR-based PacifiCorp owns and operates more coal-fired power plants in the American West than any other utility company. They even own all or portions of several coal mines. What’s more, the company has been an ardent defender of coal burning, attacker of clean energy, and is even attempting to force westerners to directly subsidize the cost of maintaining its coal-fired power plants.

It’s why the company (which interestingly, is actually owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway) has long been a target of groups like WildEarth Guardians.

And despite the company’s entreaties toward clean energy, it’s abundantly clear PacifiCorp has no intent of moving beyond coal. This is underscored by their latest plans to dig in more deeply at the Jim Bridger mine in southern Wyoming, which is a major source of coal for the massive Jim Bridger power plant.

Right now, PacifiCorp is both seeking permission to expand mining at Jim Bridger and also looking to acquire a new federal coal lease adjacent to the mine.

The company’s ultimate goal? Open the door to mine 25 million more tons of coal, enough to keep the Jim Bridger power plant operating beyond 2037.

Given that Jim Bridger is the largest coal-fired power plant in Wyoming and every year spews 13.2 million metric tons of carbon into the air (equalling the amount of carbon released annually by 2.8 million cars), keeping it operating beyond tomorrow is nothing short of a disaster. Keeping it operating beyond 2037 is a complete nightmare.

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Notwithstanding the devastating climate impacts, PacifiCorp’s appetite for more mining unbelievably comes as other utilities are bailing on coal in favor of cleaner and more affordable energy.

This is happening even at Jim Bridger, where PacifiCorp’s co-owner, Idaho Power, has said they intend to shut down their half of the plant by 2032Amazingly, even PacifiCorp’s business partners are ditching coal.

We recently called on the U.S. Department of the Interior to reject PacifiCorp’s demands to be able to mine more coal at Jim Bridger and we’re gearing up to push back on the company’s attempt to secure a new coal lease.

In spite of the political headwinds, our chances of success are good. In fact, we’ve already thwarted one attempt by PacifiCorp to expand the Jim Bridger mine.

PacifiCorp may deny the realities of coal and climate change, but that won’t stop us from holding them accountable to these realities. As the company continues its dangerous push to mine more coal, we will be there to resist.

 

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