More than a dozen protesters, many of them Warren Wilson College students, staged a ruckus outside Duke Energy’s headquarters in Charlotte earlier this afternoon. Dressed as polar bears, Santa Claus and elves, the group presented a Christmas list asking for clean air, sustainable energy and energy-efficiency initiatives. During the protest, they loudly condemned Duke’s proposed Cliffside power plant. After two individuals dressed as polar bears decided to lock themselves to the door of the building with a bike lock, they were promptly arrested.
The coal-fired facility, which would be located in Rutherford County, has drawn a great deal of criticism from the environmental community statewide. Last month, the Canary Coalition hosted a public hearing on the topic in Asheville, though the state Division of Air Quality has refused to hold additional public hearings in either Asheville or Charlotte. Internationally renowned NASA climatologist James Hansen has also publicly voiced concern about the plant.
This afternoon’s protest in Charlotte was reminiscent of the Bank of America protest staged in downtown Asheville this past August, when a group of 40 or so protesters donned polar bear and canary costumes to decry the bank’s financial ties to companies that perform mountaintop-removal mining. It also comes on the heels of the arrest of an Asheville man in Charlotte for scaling a construction crane and unfurling a banner condemning mountaintop removal, which could be plainly seen from within the Bank of America’s Charlotte headquarters.
Below is a press release sent out by the group of protesters earlier this afternoon.
— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15 2007
NORTH CAROLINA STUDENTS ARRESTED BLOCKADING THE
ENTRANCE TO DUKE ENERGY HEADQUARTERS
Charlotte, NC – At 12:30 today, two Warren Wilson
College students dressed as polar bears were arrested
while blockading the entrance to Duke Energy’s
headquarters in downtown Charlotte. The students are
demanding that the company stop its plans to build the
new Cliffside coal-fired power plant, and are joined by
concerned citizens dressed as Santa Claus and his
Elves. “The bad kids get coal in their stockings, and
we’re here to say that we don’t want any new coal,”
said Keith Glendinning, a local resident. Santa’s Elves
presented Duke with a Christmas wish list of clean air,
sustainable energy, and energy efficiency initiatives.
“North Carolina’s youth will be living with the impact
of dirty energy and climate change far into the future.
We need community-based alternatives to the fossil fuel
empire.” said Nina Otter, a student at Warren Wilson
College who locked herself to the entrance. “Coal has
got to go if we want to solve the climate crisis.”
Climate scientists around the world agree that
immediate actions must be taken to reduce levels of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in order to stop the
worst impacts of climate change. Duke’s new Cliffside
plant alone would emit 312 million tons of carbon
dioxide over its fifty year lifespan, the equivalent of
putting an additional one million cars on the roads.
The Cliffside plant will also emit pollutants such as
mercury, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Duke’s
own calculations project a 10-fold increase in mercury
emissions from the proposed plant over 2005 mercury
emissions from the existing units. In addition, much of
the coal burned at Cliffside would be extracted through
the highly destructive practice of mountaintop removal.
This practice has destroyed hundreds of square miles of
the southern Appalachian Mountains and devastated
thousands of miles of streams.
“North Carolina and Duke Energy need to follow the lead
of other states such as Kansas and Florida that have
said no to new coal plants. In order to avert
catastrophic climate change our society must shift
towards sustainable and socially responsible energy
sources now. Coal is not a part of that equation”, said
student activist Lindsay Popper.