UPDATE: All 16 activists arrested after unfurling giant banner reading "Duke Energy: The climate needs real Progress."
ASHEVILLE, NC—Activists at a North Carolina power plant have unfurled a banner 400 feet above the ground on a smoke stack reading “Duke Energy: The climate needs real Progress.” The Greenpeace activists have been protesting at the Asheville Power Station since this morning in order to bring attention to the disastrous impact of coal across the country, from its extraction and burning to its waste.
The Progress Energy coal fired power plant uses mountain top removal coal, the most destructive form of mining, which is decimating the landscape of Appalachia. The plant spews out almost two thousand pounds sulfur dioxide, close to eight hundred pounds of nitrogen oxides, and more than two and a half million tons of carbon dioxide each year.
The plant’s toxic coal ash ponds are designated as ‘high hazard’ by the EPA, meaning they would be likely to kill people should they spill, and recent testing shows elevated levels of heavy metals in groundwater near the ponds.
“It’s past time to send a message to Duke and Progress that they can’t continue to pollute the air, poison the water, destroy mountains and cause climate change just to make a profit,” said Climate Campaigner and Activist Robert Gardner.
Progress Energy is in the process of a merger with Carolina based Duke Energy. The merger would make Duke the biggest utility in the country.
“Duke Energy has an amazing opportunity to create real change in the way America creates its energy by switching to a clean energy future. Instead it is adding more than five billion dollars worth of dirty coal plants to its fleet,” Mr Gardner said.
Earlier in the day, activists secured themselves to the coal loader and conveyor belt, and displayed banners at the coal ash pond. Eleven activists were arrested.
“Duke Energy needs to spend less time and money lobbying government and more time actually walking the walk of sustainability,” Mr. Gardner said. “We want to see Duke end new contracts for mountaintop removal coal, deliver at least a third of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, and quit coal altogether by 2030.”
Follow the action live at quitcoal.org
For more information, interviews with activists in the power plant and photos and video, please contact:
Keiller MacDuff: 202-679-2236 (on site)
Myriam Fallon: 708-546-9001 (on site)
Joe Smyth: , 831-566-5647 (office)
Still images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeaceusa09
Hi res video: http://comms.greenpeaceusa.org/20120213_Asheville_Coal_Action