Demanding Liberty from Coal in PA

by Kelly Mitchell

January 30, 2011

Yesterday, as part of our Coal Free Future Tour, a group of Philadelphia activists marched from the Arctic Sunrise to Independence Hall to demand liberty from coal.

I went to college in Philadelphia, and I must admit, it’s hard not to get enamored with early American history while you are here. You are surrounded by the physical buildings where founding documents like the Constitution were drafted and signed. Independence Hall is often called the “birthplace of America.”

And that revolutionary period was exciting. It was a time of transformation, where our leaders-to-be made a conscious decision to build a world that would look fundamentally different from the one they all knew.

We are in no less of a significant transformational period today. The state of Pennsylvania is caught between two worlds. In its past, King Coal reigns. The state’s 38 coal plants spew out more global warming pollution, SO2, and NOx (major contributors to asthma, smog and acid rain), than almost any other state. Toxic coal ash dumps leach arsenic, mercury, and lead into groundwater. Asthma rates in Philly are double the national average.

But its future could be undoubtedly brighter. Philadelphia is attracting major clean energy firms like Gamesa Wind. Pittsburgh is embracing green jobs as the path to economic revival. And citizens across the state are working to shut down the old, dirty coal plants that poison their communities.
 
Unfortunately, it remains unclear if Pennsylvania’s leaders are committed to building this better world. That’s why activists braved the cold yesterday, marched to Independence Hall and signed a Declaration of Independence from Coal. Local volunteers will deliver this document to Governor Corbett, to demand that he does everything in his power to create a clean energy future for PA. They will reach out to Senator Casey, and demand that he prevents corporate polluters from rolling back common sense environmental and health standards for coal plants.  And this is just the beginning.

The energy [r]evolution is underway – what better place to celebrate this transformation than the streets of Philadelphia.

We the People declare Independence from Coal

Kelly Mitchell

By Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell is the Climate and Energy Campaign Director for Greenpeace, based in Chicago. Since 2006, she has worked with activists and organizations across the country to confront corporate polluters and transform U.S. energy policy. She currently leads Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100 percent renewable energy, pushing some of the largest companies in the world to embrace wind and solar and working alongside communities to develop a just and democratic energy system.

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