Massachusetts Rallying to Stop Coal

From Holyoke to Salem to Somerset, nearly 200 Massachusetts residents prevailed against cold, wind, and snow, strengthening a statewide coalition pushing for a rapid phase out of coal and fossil fuels – an urgently-needed remedy to the converging climate and economic crises. Many also went down to Washington DC to join the thousands gathering to take climate action into the streets. There, a small – but important – EARLY SIGN OF SUCCESS was achieved as heads of Congress requested a feasibility study for converting the DC coal plant to natural gas in the next two years.

HOLYOKE

More than 60 activists gathered at Mount Tom power station. Our mission was to call on the station owners in particular, GDF Suez, and policymakers in general to stop burning coal.

Tina Clarke recalled the long struggle to force the station’s former owners to reduce SOx and NOx emissions, and noted the current owner’s tendency to take credit for simply complying with the law. Rev. Margaret Bullitt Jonas, whose ministry centers on the struggle against global warming, described the abuse of the climate as a sin. Then, reminding us that all great movements sing, she led us in song. Peter Vickery spoke to the significance of 350 parts per million. Veteran peace and justice activist Frances Crowe announced a one-item wish list for her upcoming 90th birthday: everybody stay home and don’t burn gas. On the subject of boosting public transportation, Leo Maley urged support for the proposal to increase the state gas tax by 19 cents a gallon. Joan Grenier mentioned that Bill McKibben will be in South Hadley soon and Tom Neilson sang a wonderful song that he wrote for the occasion.

SALEM

At Salem Harbor Station, about 40 people stood vigil. Avi Chomsky, Jeff BarzSnell, Martha Dansdill and Lynn Nadeau each spoke about coal from Colombia, the handwriting on the wall for Salem Harbor, global warming, solidarity with the March 1st protest in DC and others in Massachusetts. Many also made comments and asked questions in a participatory manner.

SOMERSET

On a cold, snowy afternoon, 75 people gathered in Somerset, Massachusetts to rally for an end to coal power plants in Massachusetts. Sponsors of the event called for 100 per cent of Massachusetts electricity to be generated by renewable energy in ten years, which would lead to the closure of all coal-fired power plants in Massachusetts. Speakers included Jill Stein, Co-chair of the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party, David Dionne, former Westport Selectman, Joe Carvalho, LNG activist, Al Lima, city planner, and John Andrews, president of the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities. After the speakers, the Reverend James Hornsby led the group in a hymn celebrating the children of the Earth. The rally was held at a park within sight of two coal power plants that have been the focus of community protest for years. Originally slated to be shut down, the plants have gained new life under new permitting schemes advanced by Governor Deval Patrick. Community health activists consider this a violation of clean-up agreements forged in the past. After the rally, a van departed for Washington to lend support to the capitol climate action.

For lots of great photos and videos of the Washington, DC action, visit www.capitolclimateaction.com.