North America

In the spring of 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that over 150 new coal-fired power plants were in various stages of planning and construction. Concerned both about the climate impacts and other health and environmental effects of coal, scores of grassroots groups worked to oppose the coal rush, advocating for cleaner sources of energy. In addition, activists stepped up pressure to end the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia. Deploying a diverse array of tactics, from nonviolent direct action to litigation, the nationwide anti-coal movement has succeeded beyond all expectations. Most of the proposed projects were abandoned or cancelled, and rather than building new coal plants, utilities are rapidly retiring the aging coal fleet. Electricity production from coal in the United States has dropped significantly, replaced by increased generation from natural gas and wind power. Attempting to maintain their revenues, coal companies have sought to expand exports, including developing new export terminals in the Pacific Northwest. These attempts have met with growing opposition.

Canada is also moving away from the use of coal for electricity generation. In 2007, the government of Ontario committed to phasing out all coal generation in the province by 2014. Nevertheless, Canada is experiencing some of the same pressures as the U.S. to export coal, and there are proposals for a number of new mines.