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A Bruising Month for Big Coal

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: Environment, energy, coal, carbon dioxide, activism, civil disobedience,

If I were a coal company executive, I’d feel like I was getting beat up on: The entire month of February has seen big coal being pummeled by politicians, environmental groups, and activists as if it were something dirty. But if I had any sense I’d realize I deserved a beating for shamelessly propagating the most polluting energy source we use—and I’d prepare for another thrashing next month.

Let’s recap. On February 4, the New York Times’ Green Inc. blog chronicled “A Tough Week for Coal,” but that was just the beginning. On February 17, Grist reported on a crowd of coal foes who marched on the Kentucky State Capitol to listen to speakers including actress Ashley Judd and novelist Silas House demand an end to mountaintop removal coal mining. The same day in Washington, writes SolveClimate, the Obama administration’s EPA said it would reconsider whether carbon dioxide should be regulated as a pollutant, a move that would target big coal burners. And yesterday, the anti-coal Reality Coalition released a new mock ad (below) directed by Joel and Ethan Coen that ridicules the spin-speak behind the phrase “clean coal.”

 

So that was coal’s bleak February. Its March starts off with another doozy, a civil disobedience march Monday on the coal-fired power plant that Congress owns. Among the marchers at the Capitol Climate Action event will be high-profile figures such as Bill McKibben, who writes for Yale Environment 360, “Why I’ll Get Arrested to Stop the Burning of Coal.” We wish him the best of luck in both endeavors.

UPDATE (3/2/09): Despite a late-winter D.C. snowstorm, more than 2,000 protesters turned out at the Capitol Climate Climate Action event Monday and blockaded the three main gates to the Capitol Power Plant, according to Jeff Biggers at Huffington Post. No arrests were made. See McKibben's account of the protest at Mother Jones' Blue Marble blog.

Sources: New York Times, Grist, SolveClimate, Reality Coalition, Capitol Climate Action, Yale Environment 360Huffington PostBlue Marble