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If You Want to Breathe Clean Air, Senate Reform and Democracy Matter

3:37 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

 

Watch the Netroots Panel “The Three Keys to Reclaiming Democracy” in this video

This week, the Senate will decide whether they will end Congressional gridlock with a simple majority, or if they will continue to allow obstructionist lawmakers to paralyze the government with partisan gimmicks. For our health, our communities, and for our planet that supports life in all its diversity, the Senate must adopt Harry Reid’s proposal to reform nominations rules now, and enact more sweeping reforms of the Senate rules in the immediate future.

Reid’s proposal to allow the Senate to end discussion of proposed nominations with a simple majority vote is the only sane way forward when Senate Republicans are bent on delaying and obstructing Presidential nominations like Gina McCarthy’s to the Environmental Protection Agency. The extremist faction isn’t filibustering because they think that there may be someone better to head the EPA than McCarthy (or Sharon Block for the National Labor Relations Board, or any of the other Republican-blocked nominations); they’re doing it because this is the only way they can keep the EPA from carrying out its congressionally mandated functions.

The problems of the gridlocked, broken Senate are nothing new to environmentalists. In her analysis of the failure of the 2009 climate bill, Harvard professor Theda Skocpol said, “The failure of the 2009-10 policy push for cap and trade legislation was, in one respect, quite unsurprising – attributable (in political science 101 terms) to Senate rules setting an insurmountable 60-vote bar.”

The Corporate Right knows this.

Grinding the federal government to a halt by abusing the filibuster is just one of the strategies that a handful of fossil fuel companies are using to undermine our democracy to keep their near-monopoly status in politics. While saving our democracy may seem a far cry from “Save the Whales,” moving closer to the dream of American democracy may be the only way to pass meaningful protections for our communities and our planet in the United States Congress. The environmental movement must engage in this fight.

The stakes are high. While a few Senators are working to ensure that President Obama’s election has no consequences by blocking him from staffing the administration, the Supreme Court has already pushed forward the Corporate Right’s two additional strategies to dismantle democracy of, by and for the people: suppressing the vote and unleashing limitless, secret money into elections.

This means that the voting blocs who most support the environment — youth and people of color — are being pushed out of the electorate, and powerful moneyed interests who fight environmental safeguards grow more powerful through keeping people out and pumping their money into politics.

The results of this bigotry and big money strategy show up in places like Art Pope’s North Carolina, where the legislature has gutted campaign finance laws for judicial elections and pushed bills to suppress voters, including a measure to remove a tax credit for parents whose college-student children vote at school instead of at their permanent address.

So what can we do about all of this? For one, we can start seeing ourselves as we are seen by the forces that are hell bent on fighting the promise of American democracy – as one movement with a shared vision of inclusion, of every voice counting, and of a government working for all of the American people.

United by this vision, a new force – The Democracy Initiative – was born, committed to getting big money out of politics, voters in (universal voter registration and an end to voter suppression), and reforming the Senate rules to get the government working again. Groups such as Greenpeace, the Communication Workers of America, the NAACP, Sierra Club, Public Campaign, Common Cause, People for the American Way, National People’s Action and dozens of others representing tens of millions of people are determined to win back what we’ve lost in the past four decades.

Big Money groups are still fighting as hard as ever across the country to disempower the majority who believe in the rights of communities to be safe and self-determined. The Democracy Initiative was formed to make sure that every voice is heard, and the people, not big money, control the future of this country. You can join this fight today by calling your senators and telling them that you support Senate rules reform now to end gridlock in Washington.

How Shell is trying to send a chill through activist groups across the country

10:21 am in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

This article is co-authored by Ben Jealous

One of our most important rights as Americans is the freedom to express ourselves. This takes the form of voting, it takes the form of activism, and it takes the form of our First Amendment right to free speech.

This summer, the 9th Circuit Court in California is weighing the question of whether companies have the right to take preemptive legal action against peaceful protesters for hypothetical future protests. This will be an extraordinary decision that could have a significant impact on every American’s First Amendment rights.

The case, Shell Offshore Inc. vs. Greenpeace, was filed by Shell Oil Company. Last summer, Shell assumed –based on conjecture — that Greenpeace USA would protest the company’s drilling in the Alaskan Arctic.  Shell asked the 9th Circuit court for a preemptive injunction and restraining order against Greenpeace USA [Full disclosure: Philip Radford is the executive director of Greenpeace USA].

Despite Greenpeace’s appeal, the court granted the injunction for the entire duration of the drilling period, a decision which effectively gave a federal blessing to the company’s wish to do its controversial work in secret.

Greenpeace has asked the court for a full review, and this summer, the court will decide the ultimate fate of the case.

If the court rules in Shell’s favor, it would have a profound chilling effect on First Amendment rights across the country. Nothing would stop other corporations from taking similar preemptive legal action against anyone they deem to be likely protesters. That could be an environmental group, it could be a civil rights group, or it could be a Tea Party group — or anyone in between.

Even if the most frivolous of these suits were eventually overturned on appeal, it would still set a dangerous precedent. Anyone who wants to silence a protest outside a convention, a disaster site, or any political space would have legal precedent to do so for as long as their lawyers could keep the case in court.

This case isn’t just about the fate of the Arctic. It is about the state of our democracy.

Entrenched power, whether corporate or governmental, wants to keep things just the way they are. For generations, ordinary people of social conscience who see injustice in the status quo have exercised their First Amendment rights in order to make the changes necessary for progress.

It isn’t always easy.

In 1965, after years of dedication to the Civil Rights Movement, Julian Bond was one of the first African-Americans since Reconstruction elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. Even though Bond won his election fairly and took a legally binding oath of office, his colleagues voted to deny him his right to speak in the Assembly. Despite the clear racial motivations, Bond was undaunted. He filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the Georgia House had violated his First Amendment rights, and the case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. Bond’s right to speak was ultimately upheld.

In his decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that the case was central to the function of the First Amendment. Warren wrote:

Just as erroneous statements must be protected to give freedom of expression the breathing space it needs to survive, so statements criticizing public policy and the implementation of it must be similarly protected.

As Bond and Chief Justice Warren recognized, the right to protest is a foundational American right. In fact, this tradition, forged by Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and countless others, is the only thing that puts the power of the people on any kind of scale relative to the power of multibillion dollar corporations or entrenched government power.

Our power as citizens lies in our ability and willingness to protest.  Without the right to speak and protest, the civil rights, environmental, and other movements would never have accomplished the great things we have. Right now Shell is trying to set a precedent to restrict Americans’ First Amendment rights. If they succeed, it will have a devastating and chilling effect on our democracy.

 

Ben Jealous is the CEO of the NAACP.
Philip Radford is the executive director of Greenpeace USA.

 

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Why North Carolina’s ‘Moral Mondays’ Matter for Democracy and the Planet

3:33 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

 

Every Monday for the past month, North Carolina citizens from across the spectrum have gathered at the State House in Raleigh to protest the pro-corporate, anti-rights agenda of the legislature’s newly elected Republicans. The top priority of these Republicans is to pass every law imaginable to wreck the environment and strip away the ability of people to defend their communities — which is exactly why Reverend William Barber and the hundreds of dedicated people of North Carolina will be there again this Monday, singing, chanting, and raising their voices in every way they can to make sure the corporate right doesn’t win in North Carolina.

Greenpeace activists will be there alongside Reverend Barber and groups across issues, because this fight matters in a big way — not only for North Carolina but for everyone in the country who cares about voting rights and environmental protection.

Why?

Because the big money groups fighting the citizens of North Carolina are the same big money groups fighting across the country to disempower the majority who believe in the rights of communities to be safe and self-determined. If the corporate right sees it can win in North Carolina, it will take the same tactics to every vulnerable state in the Union in a full court press against people and the environment. We can’t let that happen.

For years, the people of North Carolina have struggled against the State House influence of big corporations like Duke Energy, which has had the state’s regulators and politicians on lockdown for decades but now sees its old, dirty energy business model barreling towards obsolescence. So Duke and other old economy behemoths are getting desperate, trying to hold onto all the power they can before demographics and history sweep them aside.

Art Pope, North Carolina’s self-appointed kingmaker and honorary Koch Brother, along with the right wing legislation factories ALEC, AFP, and State Policy Network are gleefully running amok at the state house, trying to ram through legislation that would fire all the state’s environmental regulators, restrict renewable energy, wish away global warming, and make sure disenfranchised voters stayed that way.

These guys don’t divide us into social justice groups and environmental groups — they see us as all one enemy, which is why in North Carolina we are one movement. They try to take away voting rights from people of color because they know those are the people that — if empowered — will fight to make sure that coal plants and toxic waste incinerators don’t end up in their back yards. Communities of color and low-income communities are hurt first and worst by Duke’s rate hikes for dirty energy. They are hurt first and worst by pollution, since companies usually site the coal plants and toxic waste dumps in their communities. They are the people who could benefit most from solar panels on their rooftops and the ability to free themselves from the regressive, costly, polluting electricity grid that Duke currently offers. Which is why we’re standing together to make sure the people are empowered. An attack by corporate interests against North Carolina’s working people, women, people of color, or any other vulnerable group, is an attack on North Carolina’s environment too, and we will stand with our allies to fight that corporate funded threat.

A Breakthrough in How We Work to Protect Our Oceans

2:18 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

Rockfish and sponges in Zhemchug Canyon, Bering Sea.

The Bering Sea is known to scientists and conservationists as one of the most remarkable places on Earth — a home to sponges, coral, fish, crab, skates, sperm whales, orcas, Steller sea lions, and a vast array of other species all part of a delicate ecosystem extremely vulnerable to human activity. Take a look.

But here’s what’s new — as of this week, the Bering Sea is remarkable for another reason — it’s the impetus for a an amazing breakthrough in the way we work to protect our oceans.

On Monday in Juneau, Alaska, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to identify key coral areas in the Bering Sea canyons and consider measures to protect them. While this may sound like a routine decision in a far off place, it’s anything but the status quo.

The council’s decision comes in the middle of an ongoing campaign to protect the “Grand Canyons of the Sea” from the impacts of fishing gear like massive pollock trawl nets that destroy fragile corals and threaten life in the Bering Sea. You may not have heard much about pollock day-to-day, but it’s in fish sticks, fast food fish sandwiches, and even imitation crab. It’s a big deal fish–in fact, calling it the “billion dollar fish” is an understatement.

This campaign, like most conservations initiatives, has gathered together numerous green groups like Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, Oceana, and Mission Blue. But what’s different about this campaign is that major seafood retailers like Safeway, Trader Joe’s, and, yes, even McDonald’s have looked beyond their next quarters’ earnings to the long-term viability of our environment (and their products) These business leaders have admirably urged the Council to look further into the available science to protect the canyons from destructive fishing, because they too want the Bering Sea to have a sustainable foundation for the future. We know from what we’ve seen from the oceans around the world that a thriving ecosystem today can turn into a wasteland tomorrow without sustainable management, so the problem is urgent.

What else is new with this campaign is the truly remarkable amount of citizen engagement. This week, as the Council deliberated in Juneau, everywhere they went flyers, posters, and banners held by activists reminded them that more than 100,000 people were urging them to protect the canyons — an unprecedented amount of public input in this process. When Council member John Henderschedt spoke to his breakthrough motion yesterday he began by saying, “thanks to all who provided comments — your voices are important to this process, and they have been heard.”

If the industry and government operated in secret, who knows what it would take for them to work sustainably. But because Greenpeace and other conservation groups have been able to show the wider world what’s at stake in the Bering Sea, people have been able to decide for themselves how they want their world. Greenpeace has had the privilege of taking this message to the decision-makers in government and industry to create a new way forward, one that includes more voices than just that of the highest bidder.

The struggle to protect the “Grand Canyons of the Sea” is far from over, but on Monday in Juneau something remarkable happened, something that might just signal a sea change in how we protect our oceans. Read the rest of this entry →

Protecting Our Communities From a Chemical Disaster

4:44 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

When was the last time you heard about Republicans and Democrats agreeing on something?

Christine Todd Whitman. Photo by Stuart Isett/Fortune Brainstorm Green.

Recently, the Center for Public Integrity reported that on April 3, Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President George W. Bush sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging her to use Clean Air Act to prevent chemical disasters.

Yes, you heard that right, in a world where Newt Gingrich is calling for the abolition of the EPA, there is common sense bi-partisan support for the EPA using its authority to make us safer. Governor Whitman can speak with authority about this issue because she, as EPA chief under President George W. Bush, drafted such a program in 2002, driven by the country’s national security concerns following the 9/11 attacks.

The EPA’s 2002 proposal, complete with a roll out plan, hinged on using the “Bhopal Amendment” of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. Commonly called the “General Duty Clause” (GDC) this section of the Clean Air Act obligates chemical facilities who handle hazardous chemicals to prevent chemical disasters.

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Obama’s Job: Protect Us from Pollution [video]

3:27 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

While Obama’s jobs speech is being framed as a turning point for his tenure as President, there is another job I would respectively suggest he concentrate on: protecting the lives of America’s children.

Here’s a quick video ad that I think gets right to point:

Late last week the President blocked reforms to the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to improve pollution measures to protect Americans against the harmful effects of toxic ozone smog. The President chose to side with big corporate polluters instead of with the 12,000 Americans that, according to the EPA, would have been saved by these proposed updates to pollution controls. Obama also chose to side with the big polluting industries instead of with the estimated 24 million men, women and children suffering from asthma in this country who are forced to suffer even more because of heightened smog levels.

The decision outraged his biggest backers in the Democratic Party. Barbara Boxer, Chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said that environmentalists should sue the Obama administration over the decision: “I hope they’ll be sued in court and I hope the court can stand by the Clean Air Act.” Read the rest of this entry →

Koch Industries Lobbying Puts Over 100 Million Americans in Danger

2:25 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

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Recent Greenpeace analysis of lobbying disclosure records reveals that since 2005, Koch Industries has hired more lobbyists than Dow and Dupont to fight legislation that could protect over 100 million Americans from what national security experts say is a catastrophic risk from the bulk storage of poison gasses at dangerous chemical facilities such as oil refineries, chemical manufacturing facilities, and water treatment plants. Koch lobbyists even outnumber those at trade associations including the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute. Only the American Chemistry Council deployed more.

In 2010 Koch Industries and the billionaire brothers who run it were first exposed as a major funder of front groups spreading denial of global warming in a Greenpeace report, which sparked an expose in the New Yorker. Since then, the brothers have been further exposed as a key backer of efforts to roll back environmental, labor, and health protections at the state and federal levels. Through enormous campaign contributions, an army of lobbyists, and funding of think tanks and front groups, David and Charles Koch push their agenda of a world in which their company can operate without regard for the risks they pose to communities, workers, or our environment.

Today, in a new exposé, Greenpeace has shown how Koch Industries has quietly played a key role in blocking yet another effort to protect workers and vulnerable communities – comprehensive chemical security legislation. The Report is called “Toxic Koch: Keeping Americans at risk of a Poison Gas Disaster.”

Since before the September 11, 2001 attacks, security experts have warned of the catastrophic risk that nearly every major American city faces from the bulk storage of poison gasses at dangerous chemical facilities such as oil refineries, chemical manufacturing facilities, and water treatment plants. Nevertheless, ten years later, thousands of facilities still put more than 100 million Americans at risk of a chemical disaster. According to the company’s own reports to the EPA, Koch Industries and its subsidiaries Invista, Flint Hills, and Georgia Pacific operate 57 dangerous chemical facilities in the United States that together put 4.4 million people at risk.

A coalition of more than 100 labor, environmental, and health organizations has advocated for comprehensive chemical security legislation that would help remove the threat of a poison gas disaster by requiring the highest risk facilities to use safer processes where feasible. Koch Industries and other oil and chemical companies have lobbied against legislation that would prevent chemical disasters, despite repeated requests from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for disaster prevention. Instead Koch favors an extension of the current, weak Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) that exempt most facilities and actually prohibit the authority of DHS to require safer processes. As in other policy areas, Koch’s huge efforts have gone largely unnoticed.

Koch campaign contributions reveal the company’s influence over the chemical security debate in Washington DC. All of the key Senators and Representatives who have taken a lead role during the last year in pushing legislation that supports Koch’s chemical security agenda have received Koch campaign contributions. The House members who introduced two bills that would extend CFATS without improvements and block the DHS from requiring safer processes for seven years have all taken KochPAC contributions over the last three election cycles, including Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA), Gene Green (D-TX), Peter King (R-NY) and Dan Lungren (R-CA). And all of the cosponsors of similar legislation in the Senate – Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (R-AR), and before his retirement, George Voinovich (R-OH) – received KochPAC contributions during their most recent elections.

As Congress debates how to protect Americans from dangerous chemical facilities, Koch is once again opposing legislation that would make America safer, despite the enormous risk its facilities pose to communities, workers, and our environment.

In Chicago, coal is the real crime

10:00 am in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

A sad fact of living in an American city like Chicago is that every time we open a newspaper or switch on the local news, we hear of some senseless, tragic crime that has claimed an innocent life.

We become outraged, and we demand justice for those who have lost their children, their parents, their siblings or spouses. In 1982, Chicago acted to stem the tide of gun-related violence when confronted with a disturbing rise in homicides. In fact, between 1980 and 2006, some 32,300 American died every year due to handgun violence, which is second only to car crashes in deaths by injury.

Ever since I got my start as an advocate for a healthy environment on Chicago’s West Side, I have wondered why we fail to feel that same sense of outrage when the culprit in a crime against innocents is not a gunman seeking cash, but a corporation seeking to improve its bottom line. Maybe the impacts of a company’s misdeeds are of a scale so grand that it is difficult for us to imagine.

Every year, the toxic pollution that spews from the smokestacks of America’s coal-fired power plants kills between 13,000 and 34,000 people, according to studies by the Clean Air Task Force and Harvard University. That staggering figure doesn’t include the carbon pollution–one third of all US emissions–that is driving the planet into runaway climate change.

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The lives lost to the coal industry are as real and as important as any other, as are the dollars the industry plucks from our pockets without us ever knowing it. Between healthcare costs for heart attacks, asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases; birth defects; and damage to communities done by mountaintop removal mining, land degradation, solid coal wastes, and other impacts; the hidden costs of coal amount to half a trillion dollars annually, according to a recent study by Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment.

That’s five hundred billion dollars that you and I are paying to the coal industry so that they can continue poisoning our communities and standing in the way of clean, green energy. This massive, invisible public cost is only one of the many accounting tricks used by utilities to rob the public of billions each year.

If that scale is too hard to imagine, perhaps we should focus on a more local level. The city of Chicago is home to two ancient coal-fired power plants, owned by Edison International subsidiary Midwest Generation. The Fisk Street and Crawford plants spew millions of tons of pollutants–including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and barium–that cause health impacts like those mentioned above. They churn out more carbon pollution than any other single source in Chicago.

And, according to multiple studies, these two facilities kill more than 40 people of this city every year. If those numbers bother you, they should. But even more scandalous is this figure: the number of Chicago homes and businesses that they power is exactly zero. Fisk and Crawford were originally built in 1903 and 1924 to provide power to the city, but since California-based Edison International bought them in 1999 they have not been needed in Chicago and have instead sold their power to the open markets in the mid-Atlantic.

So these plants are sickening and killing Chicagoans to send power to the East Coast and profits to California. Adding insult to injury, while Edison is claiming that coal is the only way to preserve jobs in Illinois, they are investing millions of dollars in job-creating clean, green energy in Southern California. Instead of southern California’s skyrocketing clean energy industry, Chicago is saddled with $127 million dollars in health costs as a result of these two old coal plants.

This situation persists because of a failure of our government to have the courage to protect people. Lobbyists have gutted commonsense public health safeguards, with predictably disastrous results for regular people. One example is the EPA’s decades-long failure to rein in the pollution pouring from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants–a situation they’re finally looking to correct. Sadly, the failure also extends to Chicago’s city government, which last month failed to vote on Alderman Joe Moore’s Clean Power Ordinance, which would have reined in the pollution from Fisk and Crawford.

But sometimes overlooked is the fact that companies like Edison bear real responsibility to the communities that surround them. Fisk and Crawford are a good example. In pursuit of profit, Edison continues to run power plants whose electricity is no longer needed by Chicagoans while people get sick and die.

Chicago’s clean power coalition, made up of over fifty local groups, have continually shown Edison that people can stand up to the enormous and destructive power of the coal industry. The people who have written letters, showed up at hearings, marched, rallied and called their aldermen are my inspiration and our great hope for the future. Today, Greenpeace activists scaled the smokestack of the Fisk Street station to support them and make sure the message is heard all the way back in California.

Students Gear up to Protest Exxon Graduation Speech

4:41 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

Rex CEO of ExxonMobile

As college students around the country are wrapping up their semesters, graduating seniors at Worcester Polytechnical Institute (WPI) find themselves in the midst of an ethical controversy.

On Saturday, WPI’s commencement speaker is none other than oil baron Rex Tillerson, CEO and chairman of ExxonMobil, although perhaps you’re more familiar with his role as the national president of the Boy Scouts of America.

ExxonMobil has donated generously to WPI and has an executive on the school’s Board of Trustees. WPI students protesting their administration’s choice in commencement speaker question the social and environmental record of Rex Tillerson’s company, with emphasis on its “scientifically negligent response to global warming.” As ExxonMobil has spent over $25 million since 1998 on groups who deny the science or significance of global warming, I share their concerns.

In response the school’s choice, the WPI Students for a Just and Stable Future negotiated with the administration to host a counterpoint speaker, Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute, who will be speaking at 3:00pm following the graduation ceremony. Heinberg is known for his analysis of peak production of fossil fuels, and the decline of easily-extractable, non-renewable energy sources.

Students have also organized a respectful protest of Tillerson’s speech. Twenty-six students are refusing to attend the commencement address, opting instead for Heinberg’s counterpoint speech. Other students who feel compelled to attend the speech will sport green ribbons to demonstrate solidarity with seniors who are abstaining from ending their schooling with an address from the mouth of Exxon.

ExxonMobil stands at the forefront of what is wrong with corporate America. The company is one of the top air polluters in the United States, with facilities that disproportionately affect minority communities. It is infamous for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off the coast of Alaska. It has a history of supporting brutal human rights violations in Indonesia. Through XTO Energy, ExxonMobil has already caused a major spill in the contaminating gas extraction practice known as hydrofracking.

While people and the planet bear the brunt of Exxon’s negligence, the company leverages its immense wealth and influence to buy the right to continue conducting dirty business as usual. In addition to funneling millions to industry front groups that peddle misinformation about climate science and belittle the significance of global warming, ExxonMobil spends tens of millions annually on federal political lobbying, and millions more on contributions to federal politicians to buy favorable policies. And even though Exxon made tens of billions of dollars in annual profit–Tillerson himself has made over $40,000,000 in the last five years–American taxpayers still handed out billions of dollars in subsidies to Exxon and other oil companies each year.

As Worcester Polytechnical Institute offers Mr. Tillerson an honorary degree for concluding the education of the graduates of 2011, someone should probably also offer Tillerson an honorary degree in corporate carelessness. He has certainly earned it.

Check out the full story, as told by WPI students, on their Facebook page. They invite all to attend Richard Heinberg’s speech tomorrow. Greenpeace applauds the students of Worcester Polytechnical Institute for standing up to ExxonMobil’s polluting influence.

Salem Citizens Win Against Big Coal

2:43 pm in Uncategorized by Philip Radford

A mother and daughter protest the Salem Coal Plant

This week the people of Salem, Massachusetts got the news they’ve been waiting for years to hear: the 60 year old, dirty coal plant in their community that leads to 53 premature deaths per year is shutting down.

The Harvard School of Public Health reported that pollution from the Salem Harbor Coal Plant not only leads to 53 premature deaths per year, but also 570 emergency room visits a year, 14,000 asthma attacks a year, and nearly 100,000 daily incidents of upper respiratory irritation.

This victory for our health and the health of our children would not have been possible without the decades of hard work from communities across Massachusetts and beyond. Families that didn’t need a Harvard report to know the plant was causing asthma attacks, heart disease, respiratory illnesses, and even premature death.

Greenpeace was one of the groups that answered their call, along with the Salem Alliance
for the Environment, Healthlink, Conservation Law Foundation, and the Sierra Club.

Greenpeace first visited Salem Harbor in 2001 when we sailed the Rainbow Warrior to
the plant. There 15 of our volunteers crossed the line of the plant and posted crosses
in the coal pile to honor and protest the deaths caused by this coal plant each year.

We continued to work side by side with local community members and this year stopped
in Massachusetts with another one of our ships, the Arctic Sunrise. The ship was on its
Coal-Free Future Ship Tour, stopping in cities along the East Coast to support local coal
fights. The Arctic Sunrise requested a visit to Salem but was denied entry. The activists
were not deterred; Salem and Marblehead residents headed to the State House in Boston
to call on Governor Patrick to shut down the Salem Harbor Coal Plant.

The people of Massachusetts have paved the way for change across the country. They’ve
shown us that if we’re determined, if we’re organized, and if we don’t give up, we can
stand up to Big Coal.
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