Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

How a New York Town Has Shifted From a Coal-Powered Economy

How a New York Town Has Shifted From a Coal-Powered Economy
The Huntley coal plant in Tonawanda, New York, contributed to the local economy — and pollution levels. youtu.be

The Huntley coal plant in Tonawanda, New York, was once the area's biggest polluter. But it was also the town's biggest taxpayer.

So when the plant was slated to close, the town was concerned about job losses – not just for company employees, but public sector workers like teachers and paramedics.

"Those tax dollars that company pays … goes to the folks picking up garbage, and goes to people fixing the roads, and helps fund special ed," says Rebecca Newberry, executive director of the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York.

To ease the transition, her group partnered with the town, local businesses, unions, residents, and community groups.

Together they created an economic development plan to help the town make up lost revenue over time. It's designed to grow local businesses and create new jobs, especially in manufacturing and technology.

The group also helped convince the state to provide funds that fill the more immediate gap in revenue.

The plant closed in 2016, and Newberry says that since that time, "not one public sector employee, to our knowledge, has lost their job because of the closing of this plant."

So Tonawanda has moved away from a coal-powered economy while helping protect the community.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth on April 2, 2012 in Western Australia. James D. Morgan / Getty Images News

By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less


UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less