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Citizens and activists from around the country are planning to descend on Washington Monday for what organizers hope is a huge protest against the burning of coal to fire an antiquated power plant that generates steam and chilled water to heat and cool the Capitol building. (The Capitol buys its electricity from Pepco).
The protest is being billed as:
…A multi-generational act of civil disobedience at the Capitol Power Plant â€” a plant that powers Congress with dirty energy and symbolizes a past that cannot be our future. Letâ€™s use this as a rallying cry for a clean energy economy that will protect the health of our families, our climate, and our future.
And two of the leading promoters are authors Wendell Berry and Bill McKibben. Berry and McKibben had this to say about the protest and about the coal industry in general:
The industry claim that there is something called “clean coal” is, put simply, a lie. But it’s a lie told with tens of millions of dollars, which we do not have. We have our bodies, and we are willing to use them to make our point. We don’t come to such a step lightly. We have written and testified and organized politically to make this point for many years, and while in recent months there has been real progress against new coal-fired power plants, the daily business of providing half our electricity from coal continues unabated. It’s time to make clear that we can’t safely run this planet on coal at all.
With any luck, this will be the largest such protest yet, large enough that it may provide a real spark. If you want to participate with us, you need to go through a short course of non-violence training. This will be, to the extent it depends on us, an entirely peaceful demonstration, carried out in a spirit of hope and not rancor. We will be there in our dress clothes, and ask the same of you. There will be young people, people from faith communities, people from the coal fields of Appalachia, and from the neighborhoods in Washington that get to breathe the smoke from the plant.
We will cross the legal boundary of the power plant, and we expect to be arrested. After that we have no certainty what will happen, but lawyers and such will be on hand. Our goal is not to shut the plant down for the day — it is but one of many, and anyway its operation for a day is not the point. The worldwide daily reliance on coal is the danger; this is one small step to raise awareness of that ruinous habit and hence help to break it.