Greenpeace activists protesting the destruction and pollution caused by coal at the Progress Asheville Power Station hang with a banner at the plant February 13, 2012. Activists have secured themselves to the coal loader and conveyers, which will prevent coal from entering the facility. The Progress Energy owned Asheville Power Station uses the most destructive form of coal mining, mountain top removal, which is flattening mountains across Appalachia. The plant produces 1,994 pounds of sulfur dioxide, 788 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and 2,629,243 tons of carbon dioxide. Its coal ash ponds are designated Ôhigh hazardÕ by the EPA, meaning they are likely to kill people if they spill. Photo by Greenpeace
[caption id="attachment_511" align="aligncenter" width="584" caption="Greenpeace activists protest at The Progress Asheville Power Station"][/caption]
So, maybe youre asking - why would anyone on this freezing cold day in February climb a 400 ft smokestack in Asheville, NC?
Looking out onto this archaic, smoking beast the reasons are all too obvious.
Asheville Generating Station is a glaring example of the dangerous impacts along every stage of coal's lifecycle.
Right now, activists are blocking a conveyer belt that supplies coal to the plant. That coal was extracted from one of the most biologically diverse areas in America. Pristine mountains throughout Appalachia were blown up in search of these rocks, scattering toxic debris into valleys and streams, and poisoning local drinking water sources.
I can look across to a smokestack spewing out sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter pollution that causes 14 premature deaths and dozens of asthma attacks every year. And lets not forget carbon dioxide. Plants like Asheville are pushing our climate towards a dangerous tipping point.
Not only do these plants spew pollution into the air, but poisonous coal ash sits in nearby storage ponds. These lakes of ash are deemed high hazard by the EPA, which means that with a breech, these ponds would spill a toxic soup of mercury, cadmium, lead, and a host of other chemicals into the surrounding community.
Meanwhile, Progress CEO Bill Johnson was on NPR this morning touting the merits of fracking gasanother fossil fuel boondoggle that is already poisoning water supplies in communities across America and fueling climate change at every point of its lifecycle.
This is all considered business as usual in America. CEOs like Bill Johnson and Jim Rogers make millions of dollars every year keeping these plants open--defending them, even. And they help their friends in government turn a blind eye with generous campaign contributions.
With this reality - its not too hard to see why a person would take this kind of risk. There's too much at stake. We need clean renewable energy wind, solar, geothermal and we need it now. Its time for Rogers and Johnson to clean up their act.
Stand with the activists. Take action now.