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Powering Past Coal
By Ted Glick
It was tremendous to be part of the crowd of thousands of people demonstrating last Monday, March 2nd at the coal-fired Capitol Power Plant on Capitol Hill. But I wonder how many of those who have heard about this action or who even took part are aware of the role that the Power Past Coal campaign played in making it a success.
In mid-November, 2008 I traveled to Charleston, West Virginia for the first national climate meeting following the election of our nation's first African American President. Representatives were there from two dozen groups, many of them Appalachian-based, others national groups like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Energy Action, 1Sky and Rainforest Action Network. Over the course of a day and a half we came up with a plan for "100 Days of Action to Power Past Coal." This campaign began on the day after Barack Obama's inauguration.
It's now the halfway point of the 100 days, and this campaign has been a big success already. 101 actions have taken place in over 25 states, at least one every day since January 21st. Most have been organized by local community groups, many of them in Appalachia.
Power Past Coal has played a key role in identifying and linking groups on the ground who get it, who understand the need for action now to break free from not just our addiction to Big Oil but also our addiction to King Coal. Over the course of the months of organizing leading up to the historic March 2nd action, PPC demonstrated that people at a local level are prepared to take action. This helped to create a political atmosphere within the climate movement that led to thousands willing to surround and block all the entrances to the Capitol Power Plant.
Now, over these next 50 days, many more actions are planned and many more should be planned. Far too many Congresspeople, Republicans and Democrats, just don't appreciate the urgent necessity to power past coal, to enact policies that drive a rapid shift to energy conservation, efficiency and a renewables-based economy that will provide millions of green jobs, including in the coal fields.
We need hundreds of "No Coal, Renewables Now!" actions at coal-related sites and in Congressional districts all across the country over the next 50 days. Let's show our elected officials what democracy really looks like! Sign your action up at http://www.powerpastcoal.org.
Ted Glick is the Policy Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.