As Congress continues to sputter on solutions for the climate crisis, a national coalition of more than 40 environmental, public health, labor, social justice, faith-based and other advocacy groups have announced plans to engage in civil disobedience at the Capitol Power Plant in Washington D.C. on the afternoon of March 2, 2009. The event, known as the Capitol Climate Action (CCA), will be the largest mass mobilization on global warming in the country's history. The event reflects the growing public demand for bold action to address the climate and energy crises. It means no more waiting, no more excuses, and no more coal.
Over 1,000 people have already RSVP'd, including Dr. James Hansen, environmental leader and 350.org founder Bill McKibben, and author Wendell Berry. In the event's press release, Hansen, whose efforts to inform the public about the dangers of global warming were stifled by the Bush administration, said the time for action is now.
"The Capitol Climate Action comes not a moment too soon. For more than thirty years, scientists, environmentalists and people from all walks of life have urged our leaders to take action to stop global warming; and that action has yet to come. Coal is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and that must change. The world is waiting for the Obama administration and Congress to lead the way forward on this defining issue of our time. They need to start by getting coal out of Congress."
The Capitol Power Plant, which is owned by Congress and sits just blocks from the American seat of power, burns coal to heat and cool numerous buildings on Capitol Hill. It no longer generates electricity but its reliance on coal - the country's biggest source of global warming pollution and a documented health hazard - has made it the focus of political controversy and a powerful symbol of coal's impact on the environment and public health.
In response to public pressure, the House of Representatives converted half of the plant's fuel to cleaner natural gas. But attempts to remove coal from the fuel mix entirely have been blocked by powerful coal-state Senators Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
How bad is coal?
The diversity of groups involved in the action reflects the number of people affected by global warming. Of all the fossil fuels, coal is the single biggest contributor to global warming. Burning coal cuts short at least 24,000 lives in the U.S. annually, inflicts catastrophic damage to the landscape and water supplies, and jeopardizes the lives of coal miners. Furthermore, the December coal ash spill in Tennessee makes it clear that there is no adequate means of safely storing coal combustion waste.
A recent University of Massachusetts study found investing in clean energy projects like wind power and mass transit creates three to four times more jobs than the same expenditure on the coal industry. The wind power sector has grown to employ more Americans than coal mining as demand for clean energy has jumped over the past decade.
For a list of sponsors and more information, visit Capitol Climate Action.
How you can help
If you're in the DC area or you want to come to the event, you can RSVP here. If you can't make it, there's a couple of other ways you can join the chorus.
--Embed the Capitol Coal Action widget on your website. Get the code here.
--Change your Facebook profile pic to the March 2nd poster image. Just go to the event page and right click on the image to save it to your desktop. Then go to your Facebook profile photos and choose "edit photo". You can upload the image, viola!
Selected posts on coal from TreeHugger archives:
2.6 Million Cubic Yards of Toxic Coal Ash Slurry Released in Tennessee Dike Burst
Coal Released Mercury Ruins Fishing and Duck Hunting
There Is No Such Thing As Clean Coal