In the U.S., coal is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and coal's pollution contributes to four out of five of the leading causes of mortality -- heart disease, cancer, stroke and respiratory illness, the Sierra Club said.
Coal emits almost half of all U.S. mercury pollution, which causes developmental problems in babies and young children, as well as being a major contributor to asthma attacks. Coal pollution causes $100 billion in health costs annually, the Sierra Club said.
Hal Quinn, president of the National Mining Association, said that Bloomberg should have invested his money "in technologies that make coal cleaner to use and not in gestures that will consign our country to higher unemployment and households to higher utility bills."
More specifically, Roberts of the UMW said Bloomberg should have donated his money toward the development of carbon capture and storage, or CCS, technology to reduce the greenhouse emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club campaign, said her group is skeptical that CCS "will ever be economically competitive with wind and solar.
"We have opposed some CCS projects and we have not opposed others," Hitt said. "I would not go so far as to call us supportive -- we are not. We would oppose any plant using MTR coal or with other local impacts or opposition."
Sen Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he was disappointed by Bloomberg's decision.
"Rather than a strictly 'anti-coal' agenda, I would hope that individuals with financial resources like Mayor Bloomberg would choose a more balanced approach that recognizes the vital role that coal plays in our nation's energy portfolio both now and into the future," Manchin said.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.