Electrical engineer Michael Bloomberg, who also happens to be mayor of New York City, founder of Bloomberg LLC, and the rich uncle behind the Bloomberg Philanthropies, doesn't play by the usual rules. Not content as mayor to adopt an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction program and to foster green technology, he also has taken charge of the C40 group of mayors dedicated to combating climate change. (In the photos, he's seen unveiling an electric car charging station and the city's latest greenification plan.) Now, through his personal foundation, he's donating $50 million to the Sierra Club's campaign to shut down as many of the nation's aging and dirty coal plants as possible by 2020.
It's a strikingly bold move, considering that Bloomberg is a member of the Republican Party, most of whose other members very probably oppose the Sierra Club's campaign. And that's not to mention the nation's coal-stage Democrats and union leaders, who also don't have much use for it.
The strategic objective of the campaign is to replace the old coal plants with "clean energy," meaning, as the Sierra Club sees it, wind, solar, and conservation. Bloomberg personally is somewhat pro-nuclear and has expressed skepticism about Governor Cuomo's objective of closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant north of the city. But that's not exactly the Sierra Club's position. It opposes current generation nuclear power and worries, with good reason, about the environmental ramifications of natural gas fracking.
Can a large number of coal plants be closed without greater resort to natural gas and perhaps more nuclear energy as well? Not likely. But it will be an interesting game to watch.