Tireless Activism and the Latest Region to Go Coal-Free

ben jealous
With the End of the Coal Era, It Just Got Easier to Breathe in New England
By Ben Jealous
Jerry Curran has been organizing to retire the Merrimack Station coal power plant in Bow, New Hampshire for 17 years. He is one of many local activists who have brought inspiring tenacity and creativity to the fight to make New England coal-free.
Last week, that goal was realized. After lengthy negotiations with the Sierra Club, The Conservation Law Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Granite Shore Power announced it will retire Merrimack and Schiller Stations’ remaining coal units by 2028 and 2025 respectively. That means the end of the last coal power plants in New England, which will now join the Pacific Northwest as the second major region in the country to be free of one of the dirtiest energy sources known to humanity.
I am personally elated. My father’s family has been in New England since 1624. I have family in New Hampshire now – the kind of outdoors enthusiasts who helped instill in me my own love of nature.
We never could have gotten to this point without years of activism calling attention to the harm caused by coal. In addition to the economics of clean energy, the incremental wins by activists along the way – including hard-won legislation and safeguards – are what ultimately made it impossible for the last coal plants to continue.
Curran has examples to share:
“Around 2008, New Hampshire ranked in the top four states in the country for childhood asthma rate. We worked with schools to encourage kids to make those paper dolls that link up and make a chain. They created 18,000 of them – representing the 18,000 children in New Hampshire living with asthma. We hung the chain of paper dolls across the statehouse in our grassroots lobbying to pass tougher pollution standards for coal plants.”
And about that same time period, activists recruited local hairdressers for an event at the state capital in which more than 100 legislators had hair samples taken to be tested for mercury. Most of the results were positive. No level of mercury poisoning is safe.
In 2008, the biggest single-point mercury polluter in the state was Merrimack Station.
Merrimack has also consistently been one of the state’s top polluting power plants, period. And it has continued spewing high levels of pollution even in its final years, when it operated only about 50 days a year. It is a so-called “peaker” plant, only supplying energy during times of peak demand for the power grid.
While Merrimack’s outsized pollution is a testament to the dangers of coal, it is also a very troubled plant. In February 2023, the New Hampshire Department of Environment Services found the coal plant’s particulate matter emissions exceeded EPA limits by 70 percent. Since then, it has operated more than 500 hours in violation of its permit, according to the state.
But this new agreement with Granite Shore Power offers the chance for a drastic change in direction. Jim Andrews, Granite Shore’s CEO, said of Merrimack and Schiller, “I think we’re undertaking a bold step forward and making good on a promise to transition our coal fired plants to clean energy facilities. I think these facilities will pave the way for New Hampshire to be a leader in the clean energy economy.”
Those words are refreshing. And we will hold Granite Shore Power to them.
Too much is at stake for us not to.
In the last 14 years, communities across the country have mobilized to retire 381 coal plants. That has meant over 54,000 lives saved, 84,000 heart attacks prevented, and nearly 900,000 asthma attacks averted. Moving beyond coal means fewer lives lost to preventable illnesses.
We risk backtracking on this progress, however, if we replace coal plants with gas. The future is clean energy like wind, solar, and battery storage. Gas development, extraction, shipping, and burning all offer intolerable health risks for people.
Moreover, transitioning to clean energy isn’t just the moral choice for our people and our environment; it is the smart one economically. While the closure of these New Hampshire coal plants may not immediately affect energy costs in New England, the long-term benefits of clean energy are undeniable. Fossil fuels like coal and gas create an unbearably volatile landscape for energy costs. That is a burden households should not have to bear.


Ben Jealous is the Executive Director of the Sierra Club and a Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit www.edwardsforhouston.com

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

Scroll to Top