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News :: Environment
Youth protest State’s approval of coal gasification plant
by Marty Driggs
Email: mdriggs (nospam) gmail.com
11 Jul 2008
Nearly fifty protesters gathered in opposition to a new coal project in Massachusetts. A delivery of coal was made by activists to the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs at 100 Cambridge Street in Boston. The office has recently dismissed an appeal of the state’s approval for a coal gasification project in Somerset, MA. Protesters gathered with music, signs and chants such as "Clean Coal Is A Dirty Lie."
If completed, this will be the first coal plant to use this untested technology in the US, setting a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country.
Boston (July 10, 2008) – Nearly fifty protesters gathered in opposition to a new coal project in Massachusetts, donning haz-mat suits and delivering a pile of coal while displaying “global warming crime scene” caution tape on the front steps of the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs at 100 Cambridge Street in Boston. The office has recently dismissed an appeal of the state’s approval for a coal gasification project in Somerset, MA.
Youth activists from across the region acted in solidarity with those communities most affected by the use and extraction of coal. They held signs reading “no new coal” and “climate justice now,” and cheerfully shouted, “There’s no such thing as clean coal.”
“Not only does coal hurt the people living near coal plants, and especially the people of the coal fields, but we are all feeling the effects of climate change,” says activist Deirdre Lally, “It’s amazing that the State is ordering more coal to be burned under the lie of ‘clean coal’. We’ve made a small delivery of coal to highlight that fact.”
The protest was organized, in part, by members of Mountain Justice, a national network of activists working for the abolition of mountaintop removal mining in Southern Appalachia. Some of the coal being burned in Somerset comes from the mountains of the Southeast, where communities are poisoned and exploited by the coal industry and corrupt state governments.
The Department of Environmental Protection, under the direction of the Deval Patrick administration, has dismissed appeals to a permit allowing NRG electric to employ experimental coal plasma gasification technology at the Somerset Station. The administration has allowed one of the state’s oldest coal power plants to backtrack on its promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and instead has given it the go-ahead to continue releasing unacceptable amounts of harmful carbon dioxide into the air.
The Commonwealth has dismissed the health concerns of South Coast residents, and now activists across the state are joining in on the call to action, holding the Patrick administration accountable.
“Governor Patrick has recently declared that ‘the fossil fuel age is coming to an end.’ Yet, he continues to support coal gasification. How does “a clean break from the fossil fuel age’ include the continued use of coal, the dirtiest and most harmful fossil fuel?” added Lally.
If completed, this will be the first coal plant to use this untested technology in the US, setting a dangerous precedent for the rest of the country. Despite the warnings of prominent climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, Energy and Environment Secretary Ian Bowles has ignored public concern, and continues to support this climate-killing project.
Today’s action is an example and a preview of escalating grassroots resistance to new coal projects across the country. Activists continue to repeat the mantra, “We won’t stop until you do.”
mdriggs (at) gmail.com
ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS: This rally was largely organized by members of Mountain Justice, as part of the Northeast Alliance for Mountain Justice. Mountain Justice is a non-hierarchal network of activists across the country, acting in solidarity with those affected by mountaintop removal. A goal of the network is to escalate resistance to mountaintop removal from a regional to a national level. Members of Mountain Justice employ a wide range of tactics and are committed to the principles of non-violence. For more information, visit mountainjustice.org .
ABOUT SOMERSET STATION:
In a final permit issued by DEP, the Commonwealth said it would allow the Somerset Station power plant to adopt experimental coal plasma gasification technology and continue releasing carbon dioxide at current levels. The decision runs contrary to a 2007 policy adopted by the Patrick Administration to reduce global warming pollution. It also allows the plant’s owners to ignore a longstanding requirement to shut down or re-power the plant with cleaner emissions by 2010 – a commitment that had been made in order to meet the “Filthy Five” regulations. The DEP’s decision represents the latest step in the Patrick Administration’s unwillingness to protect against backsliding on global warming pollution from the Somerset Plant.
• NRG’s Coal Power Plant Would Undermine the Clean Energy Agendas of the Commonwealth and NRG by allowing a plant that was meant to shut down in 2010 or repower with natural gas to convert to high CO2 emitting coal gasification plant, adding unintended greenhouse gases to the future emissions of Massachusetts.
• The Patrick Administration has allowed one of the state’s oldest coal power plants to backtrack on its promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and instead has given it the go-ahead to continue releasing unacceptable amounts of harmful carbon dioxide into the air.
• The proposed technology is untested and has never been applied to coal burning in this country.
ABOUT COAL GASIFICATION: Coal plasma gasification – a process which breaks down coal into gas before turning it into energy – reduces other pollutants, such as mercury, but results in the continued release of carbon dioxide, the primary contributor to global warming. Carbon dioxide emissions can theoretically be reduced using carbon capture and storage, however because of geology and other considerations that technology that is not viable in New England.
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