Anti-Coal Protest at Capitol Coal Plant in Washington, DC

On March 2, a number of local and national groups, including Greenpeace, Coal River Mountain Watch (see Judy Bonds interview below), and civic leaders from Washington, DC protested the continued use of coal in the plant that provides heat for a number of federal buildings, such as the Supreme Court. In attendance were Dr. James Hansen, the NASA whistleblower on climate change, Bill McKibben, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s Congressional representative.

Here is a video summary of the protest itself:

And a longer discussion of the issues involved:

Last week, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid called for the plant to convert to natural gas.

In terms of teaching, this is an interesting event for several reasons.

As he himself points out in the first video, Bill McKibben has been trying to kickstart global warming activism for twenty years. I teach McKibben’s work, and this is an interesting case of a long-term relationship between literature and politics.

In terms of environmental politics, this protest combined local citizens with direct action groups that operate on a global stage. It included American Indian, Anglo-American, and African American activists. It took an environmental justice perspective on the beginning of the coal cycle–mountaintop removal in the Appalachians–and on the end of the process–poisoned air for DC residents. It highlighted the disenfranchisement of DC in Congress. Therefore, it combined a number of groups, philosophies, and activist strategies that are normally discussed separately, but worked together under the aegis of climate change politics.

A special thanks to everyone who froze their asses off for justice!


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