Mountain Justice Takes on King Coal in Columbus

Written by Ananda

Topics: Coal, Finance

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How often do you get to witness a band of activists deploy a direct action and successfully pressure the CEO of a corporation into agreeing to their demands – before the police even arrive on the scene?

AMP HQ - Mountain Justice Comes Knocking

On Friday afternoon, student activists with Ohio Student Environmental Coalition and members of Mountain Justice occupied the lobby of American Municipal Power and forced an impromptu meeting with CEO Mark Gerken – who was not a happy camper.

AMP is planning to build a 1000 MW pulverized coal power plant in Meigs County, Ohio – one of the most impoverished counties in the state, with some of the highest lung cancer and premature death rates due industrial pollution in the country. There are already 4 coal power plants within 10 miles of Meigs and the coal barons of the Midwest are planning on building five more – the largest and dirtiest being the AMP project.

Determined to put an end to this economic and social injustice, concerned Meigs residents have been working with student and youth activists to organize and empower communities to break out of the socio-economic slavery of king coal. Mountain Justice Spring Break – an event where many students, rather than spending their holidays in Florida or Cancun, have opted instead for more meaningful pursuits in building solidarity, developing consensus, discovering affinity and exploring nonviolent direct action – showcased this collaboration over this last week.

Today marked a watershed moment in the movement against King Coal in Ohio. The activists’ demands were simple: cancel plans to build the coal plant, fund renewable energy, and schedule a meeting between the AMP Board of Trustees, local students, and frontline community activists to discuss how AMP can best chart a course towards these goals.

Demands Met - Action Success

So, this morning, about fifty student and youth activists – most of whom had never participated in a direct action – marched to AMP headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, at which point a group of four negotiators entered the building and demanded a meeting with Gerken. Even when confronted by irate AMP employees, the youth negotiators kept their cool and stuck to their demands. They not only managed to meet with Gerken, but also got him to commit to a meeting between students, Meigs County activists and the AMP Board – and to agree that AMP wouldn’t begin construction on the plant until after this meeting has taken place.

This action was part of an ongoing campaign by activists – including residents of frontline communities, and student activists from groups like Mountain Justice, Ohio Student Environmental Coalition, Earth First, and Student Environmental Action Coalition – against AMP’s plans to bring further destruction to Southern Ohio. On a Sunday morning in early March, a group of concerned citizens visited the home of CEO Marc Gerken, and demanded that AMP reconsider its plans to move forward with the plant. (At that point, Gerken brushed off their requests for a meeting.) Earlier this week – as part of the Listening Project – several students visited the homes of Meigs County residents, listened to their concerns about the AMP project, and empowered them to take action and join the campaign against the coal plant.

Today’s action was the biggest step to date in this campaign, and has laid the groundwork for even bigger victories against King Coal in Ohio. Stay tuned for updates on what this collaboration will do next!

Adrian & Ananda in Columbus

10 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. suz cleaver says:

    I’m so HAPPY to hear us your wonderful, successful action!!!! Keep up the great work!

  2. Ron Hayden says:

    This is a great example of what concerned citizens can accomplish when they take direct action. The sucess in Meigs County gives me hope for our camgaign against Dynegy; an energy company based in Houston who has plans to built five new coal fired electric plants. They originally anounced plans to build 8 plants. 3 or these have been cancelled due to action from environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Public Citizen Coal Block. Building new coal fired electric plants is an unconscionable sin against humanity. The evidence is clear. Coal contributes 40% of the CO2 in the atmosphere. Global warming is the biggest challenge the mankind has ever faced. It is imperative that reduce the rate of CO2 accumulations in the atmosphere. We are standing on the precipice looking over at a runaway climate that will change our world as we know it. We have alternatives. Solar power can provide all the energy we need for the entire United States. It is inexhaustible, it is free and it does not pollute. Geothermal. Power from the mantle of the earth. It is inhaustible, it is free and it does not pollute. Wind. It is inhaustible, it is free and it does not pollute. The combination of these technologies can provide all the power we need with plenty to spare. Energy companies like Dynegy and AEP should lead the way to the new green energy economy. There is billions of dollars to be made in new green energy. Because we have a lot of coal does not mean we should use it. Coal is going to ruin our planet as we know it, if we do not change. We need to take existing coal plants, not build new ones. The green alternative energy of solar, wind and geothermal can provide all the power we need.

  3. Ron Hayden says:

    This is a great example of what concerned citizens can accomplish when they take direct action. The sucess in Meigs County gives me hope for our camgaign against Dynegy; an energy company based in Houston who has plans to built five new coal fired electric plants. They originally anounced plans to build 8 new plants. 3 or these have been cancelled due to action from environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Public Citizen Coal Block. Building new coal fired electric plants is an unconscionable sin against humanity. The evidence is clear. Coal contributes 40% of the CO2 in the atmosphere. Global warming is the biggest challenge the mankind has ever faced. It is imperative that we reduce the rate of CO2 accumulations in the atmosphere starting now! We are standing on the precipice looking over at a runaway climate that will change our world as we know it. We don’t have much time. We have alternatives. Solar power can provide all the energy we need for the entire United States. It is inexhaustible, it is free and it does not pollute. Geothermal. Power from the mantle of the earth. It is inexhaustible, it is free and it does not pollute. Wind. It is inexhaustible, it is free and it does not pollute. The combination of these technologies can provide all the power we need with plenty to spare. Energy companies like Dynegy and AEP should lead the way to the new green energy economy. There is billions of dollars to be made in new green energy. Because we have a lot of coal does not mean we should use it. Coal is going to ruin our planet as we know it, if we do not change. We need to take down existing coal plants, not build new ones. The green alternative energy of solar, wind and geothermal can provide all the power we need.

  4. Bob says:

    “The green alternative energy of solar, wind and geothermal can provide all the power we need.”

    Are you fucking kidding? HOW? WHEN? and most importantly, WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR IT?

  5. Many thanks and many congrats to all the folks who pulled this off! What a great combination — direct action, negotiation, speaking directly with the executives at AEP — wonderful! Hats off to everyone, and I’m so glad that my Meigs County friend, Elisa Young, has help like this!

    Thank you again!

  6. yochi says:

    damn straight. keep up the good fight!

  7. An Ohio Activist says:

    Great Job! But watch out for pitfalls at this meeting with the board. Here are a couple of facts you should be armed with:

    1) Construction won’t begin on this project until fall 2009, at the very earliest – so don’t buy it if they try tell you they’ve waited because of you

    2) This project is in trouble for a number of reasons, mostly due to increasing costs and the fact that the company must pre-sell a certain amount of power to go forward, and has not sold enough as of yet. Also, legislation in Michigan and Pennsylvania must be passed to go forward, and the air permit is being challenged. In the unlikely event you hear them say the project will be canceled due to environmental concerns, don’t buy it.

    3) AMP will offer a big production and power point presentation, telling you that the because they are closing another plant down while putting this one online, and because they will be purchasing less power on the market, that this plant will represent a net decrease in CO2 emissions. – Be prepared for this one!

    First, the plant being shut down is small by comparison, and it will be shut down soon regardless of whether or not the new plant will be built, because it is 60 years old and soon won’t be able to comply with the clean air act.

    Second, just because the company will purchase less power on the open market doesn’t mean the plants that create that power will be shut down. This is important – unless all the plants the company currently purchases from are shut down – (and they won’t be) there will be a huge, net CO2 increase.

    Finally, this is a plant that will run for 75 years or more.
    While the vast majority of the coal fleet is shut down in the next 20 years, and replaced with far cleaner renewables, efficiency, and advanced coal, this dinosaur of a plant will still be running, and will be among the dirtiest in the nation in a decade or less.

    4) Amp will talk about “Powerspan” to capture CO2. Know – the company won’t use the CO2 capture technology on this plant, and that this technology for CO2 capture is decades away, if it is even possible to develop. One lab test has been done, and usually technologies take decades to come from the lab to commercial deployment stages, if that is even possible. THIS IS PURE GREENWASHING, WITH NO COMMITMENTS

    5) Talk about coal procurement and a mountain top removal ban for this plant – many of the AMP communities have expressed concerns about the coal to be used by the company – you might have some traction if you push for some restriction for the new plant

    Good luck and great work!

  8. Kris Dingield says:

    Alright ohio! this gives me hope as well. For every plant we shut down (and I hope you all up there succeed in shutting that one down) the voices screaming No New Coal get louder! We Will be heard! Now as the houston r.a.n. picks up the torch and continues the fight against dynegy I will be thinking of you all.

  9. Travis says:

    These students can’t comprehend that if they take away coal and coal plants that they will take away lots of jobs and this action will not help our econic problems. And our unemmployment rates. Just in Ohio, West virgina, Virgina, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Southern Illinois (our buggest coal producing states) you will but many men and women out of their jobs, and inturn take food off their tabels. They also need to quit complanning about the relese of CO2 into the air, plants live off of it, and every time you exhale u relese it. Coal is what keeps the lights on, it also is the most abundent fuel of the United States.

  10. Darnell Palmer says:

    I’m a private citizen on a mission and that mission is to free America from foreign oil. Phase one is to get each state to buy solar panels from reputable companies and build at least one facility per state to learn to build, maintain and install the panels on each home, one-by-one and receive a set payment for leasing the equipment, thus producing billions of dollars in state revenue in the long haul. They will always leave the option open for homeowners to buy the SOLAR PACKAGE outright but will pay an additional $40.00 per year in property taxes which will go to the schools. Phase two, is to get some of these solar panel companies to set up shop in each state with state assistance thus creating millions of jobs. Phase three, In the SOLAR PACKAGE is a mandatory tank-less water heater. This will save billions of gallons of fresh water and free up about 70% of home usage of natural gas, because the hot water tank runs all year round. thus lowering the price of natural gas and making it more desirable for the auto industry to go to natural gas. After all that’s what congress was waiting on them to say….. CHANGE. An innovative idea that in conjunction with the solar panels can provide energy all year round using no fossil fuels.This plan will also save the auto industry with a few modifications to their engines. But most importantly we can stop global warming. This plan will leave us with extra money to buy goods and homes, eventually fixing the economy. And no more foreign oil or city wide blackouts!!!! Let me know what you think. Of course there are things I left out, I just need a bigger platform to write it on!!! Thanks for reading

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Ohio Student Environmental Coalition takes action against Coal « Building Our Power
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  4. Mountain Justice Summer Convenes in Harlan County USA « It’s Getting Hot In Here
  5. The Understory » AMP- Ohio Coal Plant Canceled
  6. AMP Coal-Fired Power Plant in Meigs OH Stopped « It’s Getting Hot In Here

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