Thursday, August 1, 2013

Will Gov. Patrick Listen to Anti-Coal Protesters and Shut Down Somerset's Brayton Point?

Protesters delivered a powerful message to Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) on Sunday, asking him to shut down the coal-fired Brayton Point power plant:
Organized by Massachusetts Action and Better Future Action, protestors carrying mini wind turbines and signs like "Coal is stupid" called for Gov. Deval Patrick to close the coal plant and "ensure a just transition for workers and host communities from the West Virginian mines to Somerset," according to a press release. [...]

Chanting slogans like "All coal is dirty coal, leave it in the ground," a line of protesters snaked past area homes, drawing some bystanders.

"We live nearby and we are concerned about the power plant but didn't realize (the protest) was going to be that big a deal," said Missy Pimentel, surprised by the turnout. "I'm glad they are here."
Police arrested 44 protesters. Show your support by emailing Gov. Patrick asking him to shut down Brayton Point now. (Its recent sale shows Brayton Point is nearly worthless anyway.)

Despite the $30,000 in riot gear that Somerset Police Chief Joseph Ferreira bought especially for the event, all went peacefully. Somerset is now considering a sizeable solar project near the current site of the Brayton Point coal plant that could generate $500,000 a year in revenue for the town.

The event garnered widespread media coverage, though lines like this give me a headache (emphasis mine):
The plant has long been the ire of environmental groups worried that the plant's emissions can cause nerve and brain damage to nearby residents. The latest protest comes after a boat blockade attempted to stop coal shipments to the plant earlier this year.

Dominion Energy, which owns the plant, paid a $3.4 million penalty in April for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. In documents online protesters allege the plant spews 15,000 pounds of mercury, arsenic, lead, and other hazardous air pollutants into the air each year.
Why are the health impacts and pollutants attributed to environmental groups, as though that's a he said/she said debate rather than scientific fact? If environmental groups stop worrying, will the health impacts go away? Can't we objectively measure the pollutants?

Check out a more in-depth review of the event from Wen Stephenson in The Nation and sign up for updates from the Better Future Project.

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