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Grace Ross: There is No Future in Coal

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

 

Grace Ross, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTER™

Brayton point, the worst polluting power plant in New England is up for sale. Its owner, Dominion, also let the Salem coal-burning plant go last fall.

Pressure from grassroots efforts has been mounting – in the 70s it was recognition that emissions from coal plants were responsible for worse human health and acid rain, destroying the life in our waterway. Now local activists have added global warming and the devastation caused by the most destructive type of mining known as mountain top removal. The devastation can be captured by heart-wrenching pictures, but increased cancer rates (up 50%) and birth defects (up 42%) in Appalachia underscore the deeper violent impact on human communities.

Dominion claims it is mere profitability but while they point to cheaper energy production through natural gas, they cannot deny the economic impact of tighter environmental standards – and those are a reflection of growing and enduring activities of regular people pointing out we can produce energy is safer ways.

Those civic efforts have included leadership from the next generation of young adults who will inherit all of the impacts (environmental, health and energy production) and have the right to have a say now in their future. Among these leaders are activist students from WPI who in the last couple of yours have worked with others across the state to fight for coal-free energy production of our state.

The Romney of 2004 who put government policies in place in Massachusetts to deter coal production might not recognize the metamorphosized Romney of 2012 who claims to be all fired up by dirty energy production and “drill, baby, drill”. Obama, who seemed to run on a commitment to end mountaintop mining, has since appointed a top coal-executive to lead EPA policy over this industry. Then, on the other hand, he made great fanfare of refusing to permit some mountaintop removal and then release more permits allowing it; he seems to be having political compass problems too.

But what may turn out to be more important is that the people organizing may be determining our future for ourselves and the corporations (supposedly persons or not) are responding in their actions, even if their rhetoric keeps saying they are not.

That’s nothing new for us in Massachusetts: the revolution started in this Colony before shots were fired with people organizing to stop the taking of homes, opposing slavery, etc. They had no illusions since the Colony was started by a corporation and they understood the only answer was a government by and for the people – the flesh and blood kind. 

 

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