New Call For Facebook To Ditch Coal

Greenpeace is renewing its campaign to push Facebook in a greener direction, calling on the social-media behemoth to “embrace a clean energy future by committing by Earth Day (April 22nd) to make a plan that would end its use of coal to provide electricity to the company’s rapidly expanding computer network.”

Greenpeace began poking at Facebook on its energy approach about a year ago, after the company announced it would open a data center in the central Oregon town of Prineville. The center is being built with plenty of energy-efficiency features – including an evaporative cooling system, use of outside air for cooling for most of the year and reuse of server heat – but Greenpeace and other critics have seized on the fact that the local utility, Pacific Power, gets 60 percent of its electricity from burning coal. Nationally, 45 percent of electricity is produced from coal, according to government data.

Facebook data center drawing, Prineville, Oregon

image via Facebook

Public discussion of the coal issue turned acrimonious last fall, but both sides appear to be attempting to avoid that now. In fact, Facebook Marketing Director Randi Zuckerberg did a friendly online interview with Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Naidoo wore a T-shirt that read, “Facebook Unfriend Coal.” Greenpeace didn’t expect Facebook “to snap its fingers” and drop coal-sourced electricity immediately, he told Zuckerberg, but wanted to see a plan from the company to move in that direction. Zuckerberg said she thought the shirt was “great,” and told Naidoo that Facebook would “love to have you as a partner.”

In its latest call-out to Facebook, Greenpeace listed four points it hoped the company would agree to: “Increase Facebook’s use of clean energy; develop a plan to mitigate Facebook’s climate footprint and to become coal free by 2021; educate Facebook users about how the company powers its services; and advocate for clean energy at a local, national and international level.”

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.