44 Arrested for Protesting Duke’s Climate Hypocrisy

Energy Giant Talks “Green,” Then Builds More Coal Plants

Media release - April 20, 2009
Washington—Police arrested 44 people for participating in a protest of Duke Energy’s plans to add massive additional coal burning to the company’s Cliffside plant. Those arrested include: Jim Warren of NC Warn; Bo Webb and Mike Roselle from Coal River Mountain in Appalachia; Larry Gibson and Mike McCoy-from Kentuckians for the Commonwealth; and several Rutherford County residents where the construction is underway. They will likely be charged with second-degree trespass.

Duke CEO Jim Rogers has publicly touted his company's commitment to addressing climate change, even pledging in a recent speech to shut down all their plants by 2050. Yet building this plant would lock in another half century of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions in North Carolina.

"It's absolutely hypocritical for Rogers to talk about sustainability and responsibility when Cliffside locks in dangerous climate pollution for another 50 years," said John Deans, Greenpeace North Carolina organizer. "If they really want to protect the planet and create jobs, they'd invest in wind and solar power instead of more polluting energy."

The action is one of a string of protests that have followed a major civil disobedience at the Capitol Power Plant in Washington, D.C. in March. That protest resulted in House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid directing Capitol staff to switch the plant to cleaner natural gas by the end of 2009.

Emboldened by the success of that event, other protests of coal plants have occurred in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and other states since then, with more planned for this summer.

The event's organizers and supporters declared the protest a victory, saying the sacrifice made by these ordinary Tar Heels and other Americans is the kind of commitment needed to convince our leaders to act immediately to address the clear danger coal-fired posed by power plants to our environment and economy.

"Stopping Cliffside is the best thing North Carolina can do to help stop global warming," said Dr. James Hansen, one of the country's leading climate scientists.

Last week the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide endanger public health and welfare, setting the stage for strict government regulation.

Dirty energy sources like coal are bad for the economy. A study by Dr. John Blackburn, retired chair of the Duke University Economics Department, found that completing the Cliffside plant and four nuclear facilities proposed in North Carolina would cause the state's utility rates to jump 50-100 percent. He also confirmed that any additional demand for the electricity in North Carolina can be met by efficiency measures alone.

The findings are supported by a flurry of research showing clean energy is the smart investment for the country's economy as well as the environment. For example, a recent University of Massachusetts study found investing in clean energy projects like wind power and mass transit creates three to four times more jobs than the same expenditure in the coal industry. Other studies have shown that global warming will soon cost Americans an average of $2000 per family per year as a result of impacts like rising sea level, coastline erosion, extreme weather, floods, and droughts.

Coal's danger is not limited to global warming. Burning fossil fuel cuts short at least 24,000 lives in the U.S. annually, destroys mountains and communities in nearby Appalachia, poisons rivers and streams, and jeopardizes the lives of miners-issues that have galvanized a national movement to quit coal and build a clean energy economy.

The demonstration was organized by a coalition of over a dozen environmental, faith-based and social justice groups, which are calling on Duke Energy and the state of North Carolina to cancel construction of the Cliffside coal power plant. The plant is predicted to cost $2.4 billion and emit an estimated six million tons of carbon dioxide every year for the next 50 years.

CONTACTS: John Deans, Greenpeace, 919-829-5504 (c) 207-319-6850; Liz Veazey, Southern Energy Network, 919-619-5964; Mike Crocker, Greenpeace, 202-215-8989 

For more information about the event visit: stopcliffside.org

For a photo of the protest visit: http://stopcliffside.org/e107_plugins/my_gallery/foto.php?img=Gallery/action/rally/img_0447a.jpg&h=480&w=580

More visuals will be available later at: http://stopcliffside.org/e107_plugins/my_gallery/foto.php?img=Gallery/action/rally/img_0447a.jpg&h=480&w=580

Follow the protest at www.twitter.com/stopcliffside.

The Blackburn study is available at: http://www.ncwarn.org/docs/reports/Report%203-31-09%20FINAL%20Blackburn-Runkle.pdf

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