Fossil Fuel Divestment Protects Health, Saves Lives

For those of us who live in California, all we need to do is look out the window to see that climate change is here and now.

Passage of SB 185, requiring the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System to divest from coal companies, is great news not only for us Californians but for the planet. The legislation will quite literally allow us to breathe a little easier.

That’s because coal-fired power plants are among the most polluting industrial facilities on the planet. Coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the United States: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.

According to a 2010 study by the Clean Air Task Force, air pollution from these plants account for more than 13,000 premature deaths, 20,000 heart attacks, and 1.6 million lost workdays annually – costing Americans more than $100 billion each year.

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