Toxics Action Center
Toxics Action Center

How we went from coal to solar

Near the coal-burning power plant in Holyoke, Mass., asthma was twice as bad as in other parts of the state.

Virgenmina’s grandson was hospitalized at only three months old, already sick with respiratory problems. Rosa was in and out of the hospital for asthma so much that she couldn’t keep a job. Leaders of the powerful, member-led organization Neighbor to Neighbor, Virgenmina and Rosa stepped up to take on the polluting coal plant.

The environmental movement always celebrates a coal plant closed. Fossil fuels like coal exacerbate climate change, and as anyone in Holyoke can tell you, it makes you sick.

But Virgenmina and Rosa knew closing the coal plant wouldn’t be enough.

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Our work together isn’t just about protecting our health and climate. It’s about building stronger communities. And for that, we all need transformative solutions.

Virgenmina and Rosa would not settle for a shuttered, derelict coal plant in their backyards. You joined us in partnering with Neighbor to Neighbor and together, we asked what their vision was for Holyoke as a healthy, thriving city. We asked what would happen to the workers when the coal plant closed.

With your support, we turned the coal plant into a solar farm.

Holyoke neighbors knew what they wanted for their community. They wanted jobs, and they wanted their families to be healthy.

Many people had dedicated their lives to working at the coal plant, and they knew what they wanted to happen. For longtime workers, they wanted access to the retirement packages that were just out of reach. For all workers, they wanted good severance. And for younger workers, they wanted job training in new fields. With your unwavering support, the plant workers won all of that and more.

The solutions to our climate crisis are solutions that transform the ways of the past into the vision for our future. When the people most affected by a problem are the ones fixing it, we get solutions that are local, healthy and based in community.

Make a gift today and you can move our region toward the clean energy future with thriving, healthy communities that you know is possible.

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