Pan Appalachian Defender

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Activists blockade coal-fired power plant

by Matt Wallace

Inspired by Mountain Justice Summer and the ongoing campaign against the ill effects of strip mining in Virginia, activists with Earth First! and Rising Tide North America (RTNA) blockaded an aging American Electric Power (AEP) coal-burning facility at Carbo, in southwestern Virginia, for about six hours on July 10.
The Clinch River power plant is notorious for the millions of pounds of pollutants it spews into the air each year as well as for its use of coal from strip mines, which are devastating the region.
Protesters used a variety of methods to block the three-story-high bridge, the only access to the plant. One group stretched a rope across the bridge and dangled a platform over the edge, on which Patrick Garnett of Lexington, KY, was suspended. As that was set into place, an overloaded coal truck stopped on the bridge and two activists secured their bodies to the truck using heavy-duty locks.

Within minutes, several trucks laden with coal were backed up on the roads approaching the plant, as dozens of other protesters wearing dust masks flooded the site, bringing the crowd to about 75 people. The protesters carried signs reading “There are no jobs on a dead planet,” and a large banner that said, “The beauty of the mountains runs deeper then a coal seam.”
The protesters hoped to draw attention to the increasing devastation of the area’s ecosystems from mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining.
They demanded that AEP and the coal industry as a whole immediately shut down this facility and all other aging power plants; an end to all forms of strip mining, including mountaintop removal; and that there be “a nationwide response to the reality of global climate change marked by a move away from fossil fuels, transition towards cleaner sources of energy, and vigorous promotion of electricity conservation.”

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