Growing Resistance to Coal in the West

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Coal

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The spirit of Ed Abbey has returned home. The fight against Big Coal is not just in Appalachia anymore.

Most publicized on this site and in the media is the epic battle being waged by the movement against the coal companies laying waste to Appalachia’s Mountains. It’s also fought and stopped over half of the coal fired power plants proposed by the Bush-Cheney energy plan. Now, we’re seeing a resurgence of direct action, anti-corporate campaigning and grassroots organizing in the mountain states against Big Coal.

Arizona:The Native Black Mesa Water Coalition celebrated a victory in January in their long running battle for water rights in the Native Four Corners, where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet, on land belonging to Hopi and Navajo people. Peabody sought partners to reopen the Mojave Generation Station after George Bush’s EPA finally closed it, in June 2006, in response to a native and environmentalist lawsuit over its multiple unremediated violations of the Clean Air Act.

Colorado: Colorado’s anti-coal movement has campaigned against four existing and proposed coal plants in Boulder, Denver, Pueblo and Colorado Springs using political, legal and regulatory processes to stop them. Furthmore, activists have utilized creative direct action and grassroots organizing In Oct., activists in Boulder and Denver organized a critical mass bike ride that overtook the highway with 300 riders. In Feb. the group organized a die-in at utility company Xcel’s offices in Denver. A budding anti-coal movement is beginning to take hold in the state from Denver to Durango as the anti-coal movement escalates around the country.

Montana: Last Thursday, five activists with Northern Rockies Rising Tide staged a sit-in to shut down a meeting of the Montana State Land Board in Helena, MT. Part of a fierce campaign to stop the development of coal tracks in Otter Creek, MT, the campaign has used various legal avenues including submitting public comments, writing letters to the editor, testifying in front of the Land Board and a walk out of 100 high school students at Big Sky High School in Missoula.

Utah: Peaceful Uprising, the group co-founded by oil and gas auction monkey-wrencher Tim DeChristopher, wants no more coal in the Salt Lake valley. The Kennecott coal plant which powers Kennecott Utah Copper plant in Magna, UT and emits more than 1 million tons of CO2 per year is the target of a campaign that will launch on April 1. Their demand is that Kennecott immediately stop burning coal and commit to switching to renewable energy by 2015.

Things are getting really interesting in a part of the country that has been dominated by conservatives with a big interest in rights for big land owners and corporations. Now a fierce resistance is begining to take root and push for change on a number of different levels.

Ed Abbey once said: “At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoroeau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, ‘If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour.

That attitude is rising up in the west.

My only advice…. misbehave.

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