5 Things I'm Thankful for This Season

Seedling growing in pile of coal
Seedling growing in pile of coal

This year, when I sit down with my family here in West Virginia at our Thanksgiving table, I'll have a lot to be thankful for. I'm more hopeful than ever for my daughter's future, because this has been a landmark year in our efforts to shift the U.S. from coal to clean energy.

Listing everything would take up too much space! So here are just five things I'm grateful for this season:

1. Nations, provinces, investors moving beyond coal. There have been some jaw-dropping announcements over the past few days. On Sunday, Alberta announced that by 2030 it would phase out all coal, implement a renewable portfolio standard of 30 percent, put a price on carbon, and cap carbon emissions from tar sands. Last week, the UK announced it would phase out all coal use over the next decade - the first nation in history to do so. Oesterreichs Energie has announced all of Austria's coal plants will be closed by the end of 2025. And Allianz, one of the world's largest financial services companies, just announced it's phasing out coal investments. These announcements are raising the bar for climate leadership, and there will certainly be more to come.

2. Strong support for the Clean Power Plan. This month, hundreds of volunteers and advocates turned out -- yet again -- for another round of Environmental Protection Agency public hearings on the Clean Power Plan. From Pittsburgh to Atlanta, and from DC to Denver, eight days of testimony were filled by supporters of clean energy and climate action. We heard from doctors and nurses, business and community leaders, parents and grandparents, and many others, who demonstrated the overwhelming public support for EPA's plan to reduce carbon pollution from our biggest source - coal-fired power plants.

3. U.S. climate leadership. As international climate negotiations begin this weekend in Paris, the U.S. is providing leadership, thanks in large part to our work moving this country beyond coal. Earlier this month, we released a report that found our work to replace coal plants with clean energy has brought U.S. carbon emissions to the lowest levels since 1995, and as a result, the U.S. has led the world in cutting carbon over the past decade. Our national leadership is one of the main reasons that so many are optimistic about the results that will come from the Paris summit.

4. Growing momentum for economic transition. This shift to clean energy is creating big challenges for parts of the country that have long relied on the coal industry, including my home state of West Virginia. Fortunately, momentum is growing for an economic transition plan that invests in the livelihoods of the workers and communities who have helped power our country. Over two dozen local governments in Appalachia have passed resolutions supporting Power Plus, President Obama's economic transition proposal for areas historically reliant on coal.

5. Beyond Coal partners, volunteers, and supporters. Above all, I'm grateful for the thousands of Beyond Coal supporters who are making this possible. They keep proving, over and over, that grassroots power can achieve incredible results and change the world. With 206 coal plants announced for retirement and enough clean, renewable energy coming on line to replace it, we are saving 5,300 lives, preventing 87,200 asthma attacks, and slashing 323 million tons of carbon pollution -- every year. And we're just getting started.

Thanks to everyone who is making this progress possible. I am thankful, most of all, for YOU!