By Veronica Carter
A few weeks from now, environmental groups will be going up against the coal industry in the U.S. District Court in Washington over President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which placed the first ever limits on heat trapping carbon dioxide pollution from power plants.
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily halted the plan because its legal merits are being challenged.
Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, considers the fight a big waste of time and says the coal industry needs to adapt and change its business model.
"Coal is on its way out," he states. "Natural gas, wind, solar and efficiency are all cheaper, cleaner, and if you look at all the new resources built in our country over the last 12 months, it's all natural gas, wind and solar. So coal's time is finished and it's time to move on."
Peabody Energy, America's largest coal company, denies the scientific consensus on climate change and has said it joined with others in the coal industry and attorneys general from coal-producing states to protect what it calls affordable energy for American families.
The case will be heard in the federal court in Washington on June 2, and will likely go back to the Supreme Court regardless of the lower court's ruling.
Olson says the coal industry's fight against clean power reminds him of the telecommunications battle of a couple of decades ago.
"Ma Bell and Indiana Bell and AT and T resisting the Internet and cellular technology, trying to maintain their outdated business model," he recalls. "That's the same thing that's going on with electric utilities."
The Natural Resources Defense Council also is trying to keep the Clean Power Plan in place, calling it the bridge to a clean energy future and saving America billions on energy costs.
The NRDC also says switching to clean energy will prevent the deaths of 3,600 Americans and avert 90,000 childhood asthma attacks annually by 2030.