Nonviolent direct actions against coal: 2008

From Global Energy Monitor

Around the world, the pace of direct action efforts against coal continued to increase in 2008. Direct action protests occurred in Australia, the United Kingdom, California, Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and elsewhere. Targets included AMP-Ohio, Bank of America, BHP Billiton, Citibank, E.ON, Dominion Power, Duke Energy, Edelman Public Relations, Massey Energy, and National Coal Corporation. Information on earlier actions as well as on the anti-coal movement in particular states or countries can be found at the following articles:


Nonviolent direct action - a term which, in contemporary social movements, is usually used to refer to acts of civil disobedience, in which activists blockade or occupy public or private space - has become an increasingly common tactic of anti-coal climate activists since 2005. While Greenpeace has used direct action tactics since the 1970's, since 2004 other climate justice, Appalachian environmental justice and anti-mountaintop removal movements (such as Rising Tide, Rainforest Action Network, Earth First! Mountain Justice Summer, and indigenous groups) have used direct action tactics in order to escalate pressure on coal mining and power companies, financial institutions which invest in coal companies, and government officials that support the coal industry. Anti-coal activists have staged dozens of such direct actions in the past few years, many of which have been highly successful at directing public attention toward the growing anti-coal movement.[1][2]

Definition and history of nonviolent direct action

The term "direct action" refers to political activities which attempt to bring about changes in the world in a direct and unmediated way. This concept of mediation is key to the distinction, drawn by many proponents of direct action, between direct and symbolic action: in a symbolic action, participants appeal to government officials or other power-holders to make changes on their behalf, while, in a direct action, participants directly make the changes that they want to see in the world.[3]

Several categories of political and economic activities can thus be understood as direct actions:

  1. Strikes or boycotts against economic authorities
  2. Blockades and occupations of physical spaces
  3. Destruction of property or resources
  4. Violent resistance against authorities
  5. Building alternatives to existing social/economic relationships

Al Gore speaks out in favor of direct action

On September 24, 2008, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore told the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York city, "If you're a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration."[4]

Descriptions of specific actions

Mountain Justice Spring Break participants occupy the AMP-Ohio headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, on Mar. 28, 2008.

March 28, 2008: Mountain Justice Spring Break action at AMP-Ohio headquarters in Columbus

On March 28, 2008, activists participating in Mountain Justice Spring Break occupied the lobby of American Municipal Power - Ohio's headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, and demanded a meeting with AMP's CEO Marc Gerken. Several people stated their intention to conduct a sit-in in the office if their demands weren't met; about 40 people protested outside. After 30 minutes, Gerken met with the protestors, and agreed to their demands: to schedule a meeting of the Board of Trustees at which community members could present their concerns with AMP-Ohio's proposed coal-fired power plant in Meigs County, Ohio. No arrests were made.[5]

April 1, 2008: Rising Tide/Earth First! occupation of Cliffside construction site

On April 1, 2008, as part of the Fossil Fools International Day of Action, a group of North Carolina activists with Rising Tide and Earth First! locked themselves to bulldozers to prevent the construction of the Cliffside coal-fired power plant proposed by Dominion in western North Carolina. Others roped off the site with "Global Warming Crime Scene" tape, and held banners protesting the construction of the plant. Police used pain compliance holds and tasers to force the activists to unlock themselves from the construction equipment. Eight people were arrested.[6][7]

One of the blockaders of a Citibank NYC headquarters is arrested.

April 1, 2008: Rainforest Action Network blockade of NYC Citibank office

On April 1, 2008, as part of the Fossil Fools International Day of Action, 25 "billionaires for coal" blockaded Citibank's Upper West Side headquarters in New York City. Two people chained themselves to the door, while others - dressed in tuxedos and top hats - drew attention to Citi's funding of new coal power plant development and mountaintop removal mining. Police cut through the chains locking the two billionaires to Citibank's door, and arrested them.[8]

Four people blockade a Bank of America branch in Boston.

April 1, 2008: Rising Tide/Rainforest Action Network blockade of Boston Bank of America branch

On April 1, 2008, as part of the Fossil Fools International Day of Action, four activists used lockboxes to block the entrance to a Bank of America branch in Boston, in protest of BofA's investments in coal mountaintop removal mining and new coal power plant development. Others held banners and signs in support of the action, which was organized by Rising Tide North America and Rainforest Action Network. Police used saws to cut through the lockboxes, and arrested the four blockaders.[9][10]

Activists occupy construction machinery at the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine construction site in South Wales on April 1, 2008.

April 1, 2008: Occupation of Ffos-y-fran coal mine construction site

On April 1, 2008, as part of the Fossil Fools International Day of Action, dozens of local residents and activists from a variety of environmental groups occupied the Ffos-y-fran coal mine construction site in South Wales. Protestors arrived at 6 am, scaled a coal washery and dropped a 100-foot banner, took over construction machinery, and locked themselves to the front gate, shutting down major work at the site for the day. Police made two arrests, and the other activists left without incident.[11][12]

Eastside Climate Action activists blockade E.ON's headquarters in Nottingham on April 1, 2008.

April 1, 2008: Eastside Climate Action blockade of E.ON headquarters in Nottingham

On April 1, 2008, as part of the Fossil Fools International Day of Action, 30 activists with Eastside Climate Action blockaded the front entrance of E.ON UK's headquarters in Nottingham, England. Two people used U-locks to lock themselves to the front door, while others blockaded the back entrance; other protestors poured green paint on themselves, to simulate E.ON's "greenwashing". The action was in protest of E.ON's plans to build the Kingsnorth coal-fired power plant - the first new coal plant in the UK in 50 years. Police made two arrests, and the building was shut down for the day.[13][14]

Activists blockade the front gates of the Aberthaw power station in South Wales on April 3, 2008.

April 3, 2008: Rising Tide occupation of Aberthaw Power Station

On April 3, 2008, as part of the Fossil Fools International Day of Action, members of Bristol Rising Tide occupied the Aberthaw coal-fired power plant, operated by RWE npower in South Wales. Activists entered the facility, chained themselves to conveyor belts, and occupied several buildings; others locked themselves to the facility's front gates. The action was in solidarity with the Ffos-y-Fran mine construction site in South Wales; coal from Ffos-y-Fran will be used to fuel Aberthaw for 17 years. Police arrested 11 people.[15][16]

Blue Ridge Earth First! blockade Dominion Power's headquarters April 15, 2008.

April 15, 2008: Blue Ridge Earth First! blockade Dominion Power's headquarters

On April 15, 2008, 15 activists with [Earth First!|Blue Ridge Earth First!] blockaded the entrance of Dominion Power's headquaters to protest Dominion's planned coal-fired power plant in Wise County. Three activists locked down to trashcans filled with concrete and blocked both lanes of the only road in and out of the office complex. The blockade, established just before 8 am, held for almost two hours and backed up traffic almost a mile. The locked-down activists were eventually dragged to the side of the road by police and were given traffic citations for impeding the flow of traffic and released without arrest. [17][18]

April 19, 2008: Rising Tide blockade of coal terminal construction site in New South Wales

On April 19, 2008, 50 Rising Tide Australia activists stormed the gates of a Newcastle coal terminal construction site in Newcastle, New South Wales. About 20 of the protestors locked arms once inside, and refused to leave. Rising Tide activists were protesting the planned expansion of the Newcastle coal terminal, which will allow the region to export more coal. 18 people were arrested.[19]

June 13, 2008: Activists halt coal train on its way to UK's largest power plant

On the morning of June 13, 2008, 40 Camp for Climate Action activists, a small number disguised as railway workers, flagged down and stopped a coal train on its way to Drax Power Station, the UK's largest power plant. Protesters climbed onto the train and unloaded almost 20 tons of coal onto the tracks[20] while others chained themselves to the train. A banner was unfurled reading 'Leave it in the Ground!'. Riot police stormed the train and removed the protesters around midnight. 29 were arrested[21].

June 16, 2008: Protesters upstage major coal conference

Protesters rallied outside while two campaigners infiltrated a major coal conference in Brisbane, Australia, calling for more Queensland Government support for renewable energy. Once inside, the the two activists took the floor and addressed the Queensland Coal08 conference, which was held to discuss the future of the coal mining industry in the largest coal exporting state in the largest coal exporting country in the world.[22]. No arrests were made.

June 26, 2008: Activists Demonstrate Outside Bank of America Headquarters

On June 26, 2008, activists from Rainforest Action Network demonstrated outside Bank of America's Charlotte, NC headquarters, carrying a banner that read "Divest from Coal!" The group distributed fliers on the bank's investments in the coal industry to employees and local residents. Police were on hand, but no one was arrested.[23]

Blue Ridge Earth First! and Mountain Justice blockades Dominion's headquarters to protest planned coal-fired power plant in SW Virginia. June 30, 2008.

June 30, 2008: Activists Blockade Dominion Headquarters

On June 30, 2008, 20 Activists with Blue Ridge Earth First! and Mountain Justice Summer blockaded the entrance to Dominion Resources' corporate headquarters to protest the company's plan for the new coal-fired Wise County Plant in Southwest Virginia. Four protesters formed a human chain with their hands encased in containers of hardened cement and a fifth dangled by a climber's harness from the Lee Bridge footbridge. After several hours police made their way through the miles of backed up traffic to cut the activists out of the lockboxes and barrels. The climber came down on his own. Police also detained eight others standing on the sidewalks supporting the lockdown team. 13 in total were arrested.[24].

On July 3, 2008, Greenpeace activists shut down a portion of the Eraring Power Station by chaining themselves to a coal conveyor. Eraring Power Station, near Sidney, Australia, releases nearly 20 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution into the atmosphere every year.

July 3, 2008: Greenpeace occupies Australia's most polluting coal-fired power plant

At dawn on July 3, 2008, 27 Greenpeace activists entered the 2,640 megawatts Eraring Power Station site north of Sydney to call for an energy revolution take direct action to stop coal from being burnt. Twelve protesters shut down and chained themselves to conveyors while others climbed onto the roof to paint 'Revolution' and unfurled a banner reading 'Energy Revolution - Renewables Not Coal'. The action preceeded the Australian government's climate change advisor Professor Ross Garnaut's delivery of his Draft Climate Change Review on July 4. Police arrested 27.[25].

July 7, 2008: Earth First! Activists lockdown at American Municipal Power headquarters, Columbus, OH

On July 7, 2008, approximately 75 Earth First! activists gathered outside American Municipal Power (AMP) headquarters in Columbus, Ohio to protest the company's plan to build the new 960 MW coal-fired American Municipal Power Generating Station in Meigs County, Ohio. Two protesters climbed flag poles in front of the building and hoisted banners that read “No New Coal!” and “We won’t stop until you do”. Around 20 activists entered the building and occupied the lobby as five protesters connected themselves to each other using lockboxes. Police used pepper-spray on the protesters and arrested eight when they refused to leave.[26][27]

July 10, 2008: Mountain Justice activists protest approval of coal gasification plant, Boston, MA

On July 10, 2008, nearly fifty Mountain Justice Summer activists gathered in opposition to a coal project in Massachusetts, donning haz-mat suits and delivering a pile of coal while displaying "global warming crime scene" caution tape on the front steps of the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs in Boston. The action was in response to the office dismissing an appeal of the state's approval for a coal gasification project in Somerset, MA.[28]

July 11-12, 2008: Greenpeace activists occupy coal-fired power plant smokestack for 33 hours

On July 11, 2008, four Greenpeace activists climbed the 462 foot high smokestack of the coal-fired Swanbank power station near Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia. While the smokestack climbers hung a 'Renewables Not Coal' banner, two other activists climbed onto the roof of the plant and unfurled a banner reading 'Energy [R]evolution'.[29] The four remained on the smokestack overnight in near freezing temperatures. On July 12, one of the protesters painted 'Go Solar' in huge lettering down the side of the smokestack. After 33 hours of occupation, all four climbers descended voluntarily. The goal of the action was to raise the level of debate in Queensland and the rest of Australia, re-emphasize the urgency of the climate change issue and the need to start shifting from coal to renewables.[30]

Australian Camp for Climate Action on their way to stop coal trains at the world's largest coal export terminal near Newcastle. July 13, 2008.

July 13 & 14, 2008: Newcastle, NSW, Australia Climate Camp stops coal trains at world's largest coal export port

On July 13, 2008 approximately 1000 activists stopped three trains bound for export at the Carrington coal terminal for almost six hours. Dozens of protesters were able to board and chain themselves to the trains while others lay across the tracks. Hundreds were held back by mounted police. Police arrested 57.[31]

On July 14, 2008, five activists stopped coal loading at the Kooragang coal terminal for more than two hours by chaining themselves to a conveyor belt. Later that afternoon four protesters padlocked themselves to the tracks at the Carrington coal terminal, stopping all train traffic until police were able cut the group free. All nine were arrested.[32]

The direct actions, organized as part of the Australian Camp for Climate Action, were an attempt to bring worldwide attention to coal's role in climate change and the expansion of Australian coal exports. [33]

July 16, 2008: UK activists target coal-fired plant's PR spin machine

On July 16, 2008, activists with Oxford Climate Action blockaded the headquarters of public relations giant Edelman Public Relations. Several protestors gained access to the firms offices while others climbed onto the roof to unfurl a banner reading "Edelman: Spinning The Climate Out Of Control".[34] Edelman PR was hired by E.On, the world’s largest investor-owned energy service provider.[35] E.ON UK is proposing to upgrade its coal-fired Kingsnorth Power Station to use supercritical coal technology. Kingsnorth is currently considered to be a conventional coal plant but under the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive, the plant would eventually have to be closed without the upgrade.[36] According to activists, Edelman PR is engaging in a campaign to 'greenwash' E.On's continued investment in burning coal.[37]

In an act of civil disobedience, four citizen activists walked across a line designating National Coal Corporation's property at Zeb Mountain. The four were immediately arrested. July 20, 2008.

July 20, 2008: Four arrested at Tennessee strip mine

On July 20, 2008, residents from coal-impacted communities throughout Appalachia gathered for a march at Zeb Mountain, the largest surface coal mining site in Tennessee, to protest the environmentally destructive practice of mountaintop removal and surface coal mining. The march was organized by United Mountain Defense, Mountain Justice Summer, and Three Rivers Earth First! and included political theater, life-sized puppets and rousing speeches.[38]

In an act of civil disobedience, four citizen activists walked across a line marked with police tape designating National Coal Corporation's property. The four were immediately arrested without incidence and removed from the property by the Campbell County Sheriff's office.[39]

July 21, 2008: Australian citizens blockade farm to stop coal exploration

On July 21, 2008, nearly 200 concerned residents and landowners in northern New South Wales blockaded a farmer's driveway to prevent a BHP-Billiton drilling rig onto the property to explore for coal deposits. Local residents are asking for an independent study into the effects the exploration and coal mining will have on local underground water reserves.[40] A court had previously issued an injunction against the landowner when he drove a grader across his driveway to prevent the exploratory team from entering his property.[41]

July 28, 2008: Greenpeace paints anti-coal messages on 20 coal ships

Using inflatable rafts, nine Greenpeace activists painted anti-coal messages on 20 coal ships waiting to enter the world largest coal export port in Queensland, Australia. The action intended to highlight the contradiction between the Australian prime minister's stated intention of urgently reducing greenhouse pollution while doubling Australia's coal exports. All nine activists were arrested.[42]

August 11, 2008: Activists glue themselves to coal giant's headquarters

On August 11, 2008, nine activists glued themselves to the revolving door and windows at BHP Billiton's headquarters in central London. The protesters also scattered coal across the floor of the lobby. BHP is one of the world's largest coal companies. According to one activist the protest was to highlight that the "expansion of the coal industry is unacceptable in the face of impending climate chaos." The protest ended peacefully after 90 minutes and there were no arrests.[43]

August 11, 2008: Southeast Convergence for Climate Action locks-down at Bank of America, Richmond VA

On August 11, 2008, 50 activists began marching at Monroe Park around noon and made stops at the offices of coal mining giant, Massey Energy, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Dominion Virginia Power, and ended at Bank of America, a major funder of coal[44]. Two activists were arrested after locking themselves to a Bank of America sign. The march and lock-down was the culmination of a week of environmental and climate justice training, networking and strategizing at the Southeast Convergence for Climate Action. The march included jesters, people holding larger-than-life puppets, banners and signs to raise awareness about the climate crisis.[45][46]

September 2008: Greenpeace blocks coal delivery in Turkey

Activists board one of the world's largest coal platforms at Botas Oil Terminal, stopping barges from importing coal to the Sugozu (Isken) coal fired power plant.

In September 2008, four climbers from Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior were arrested after they occupied a giant coal loading platform to prevent a delivery of coal to the Sugozu power station, which emits 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.[47]

September 9, 2008: Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior launch 'Quit Coal' protest campaign in Israel

On September 9, 2008, two Greenpeace activists painted “Quit Coal” in English and Hebrew on the hull of a ship unloading coal at the Ashkelon power plant. The activists are calling on the Israeli government to abandon its plan to build a new coal power plant in Ashkelon. Police with support from the Israeli Navy arrested the captain, crew and passengers of the Rainbow Warrior.[48]

On September 15, 2008, protesters locked their bodies to steel drums at the construction site of Dominion Virginia's new coal-fired power plant in Wise County, VA.

September 15, 2008: 20 Protesters lock-down at Dominion coal plant construction site, Wise County, VA

Early morning on September 15, 2008 around 50 peaceful protesters entered the construction site of Dominion Virginia's coal-fired Wise County Plant. Twenty protesters locked their bodies to eight large steel drums, two of which have operational solar panels affixed to the top that illuminated a banner reading "renewable jobs to renew Appalachia." In addition to those locked to the construction site, over 25 protesters from across the country convened in front of the plant singing and holding a 10'x30' banner, which said "we demand a clean energy future." Eleven were arrested.[49]

September 15, 2008: Dominion CEO's presentation replaced with images for Wise County lock-down

In San Francisco, activists with the Rainforest Action Network infiltrated Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell’s presentation at Bank of America’s Annual Investment Conference. Farrell’s PowerPoint presentation was replaced with a slideshow of the Wise County Plant protest. [50]

September 22, 2008: Prime Minister's office occupied

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Brisbane electorate office was occupied by his local constituents, who staged a peaceful sit-in for several hours, demanding a discussion on the government's lack of response to the phase out of the coal industry. The action was the first in a week of national climate emergency protest events, which targeted Queensland government and coal mining corporations.[51] [52]

September 27, 2008: Cambridge, MA protestors shut down Citi branch

Students, community groups, and activists held a public rally outside Bank of America's Harvard Square branch, protesting both Bank of America's and Citi's risky investment strategies, which have contributed to the current economic crisis and are jeopardizing the global climate. The demonstrators then marched to a nearby Citi branch, where four activists wearing t-shirts reading "Not with Our Money" locked themselves to the entrance.[53]

October 6, 2008: Greenpeace "Quit Coal" tour visits Spain, boards coal ship

On October 6, 2008, four Greenpeace activists boarded a coal cargo ship importing coal from Colombia into Spain. Others painted "Quit Coal" in English and Spanish on the ship. The action was in protest against the Spanish government's heavy reliance on coal for the country's energy supply and millions in state subsidies to the coal industry. [54]

Rising Tide Boston hands out samples of "green coal" at Citibank and Bank of America.

October 7, 2008: Cambridge, MA protestors shut down Citi branch

Students, community groups, and activists held a public rally outside Bank of America's Harvard Square branch, protesting both Bank of America's and Citi's risky investment strategies, which have contributed to the current economic crisis and are jeopardizing the global climate. The demonstrators then marched to a nearby Citi branch, where four activists wearing t-shirts reading "Not with Our Money" locked themselves to the entrance.[55] The protest was organized by Rising Tide Boston and City Life Vida Urbana.[56]

October 18, 2008: Citizens rally at state capitol against new coal use, Little Rock, Arkansas

On October 18, 2008, citizens from across the state of Arkansas rallied at the state capitol building in Little Rock to protest the proposal of two new coal-fired power plants in the state. The protesters asked for investment in wind energy and a ban on new coal plants.[57]

Zombies descend on Bank of America in Boston's Copley Square on Oct. 31, 2008.

October 31, 2008: Premier of Queensland's office occupied

Premier of Queensland Anna Bligh's office was occupied by the community group Friends of Felton. The twenty-five participants demanded "legislation to protect farmland from mining." The action was promoted as "Lunch with Anna," and outside the office a mock lunch of coal and polluted water was served to a Bligh impersonator. Friends of Felton formed after Ambre Energy announced plans to build a "clean coal" gasification plant and open pit mine. [58]

October 31, 2008: Zombie March on top coal investors, Boston, MA

On Halloween, zombies descended on Copley Square to visit local Bank of America and Citibank branches to protest their funding for new coal power plants. The action was organized by Rising Tide Boston. Similar events were held in North Carolina and California.[59]

November 1, 2008: 29 Rising Tide activists shut down Bayswater Power Station, New South Wales

On November 1, 2008, a large group of people from Rising Tide Newcastle walked onto the site of Bayswater Power Station, New South Wales (the equal biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution in Australia). Four people locked onto both conveyors, shutting down coal input into the station for six hours. 25 further people walked onto the coal piles outside the power station, disrupting operations by their peaceful presence, and were arrested for trespass. The group called on the government to begin phasing out coal as quickly as possible, peaking carbon emissions by 2010 and taking the strongest possible position to the UN COP negotiations in Posznan and Copenhagen.[60][61] Pictures have been posted on the Rising Tide website.

November 5, 2008: Activists shut down Collie Power Station, Western Australia

On November 5, 2008, two activists stopped and chained themselves onto a conveyor belt at Collie Power Station, which produces 300MW of Western Australia's electricity and consumes around a million tonnes of of coal per year. Lee Bell, a spokesperson for the group, not affiliated to any organisation, said that the protest was part of nationwide action against the Government's inaction on climate change and the failure to phase out coal-fired power. Twelve people gathered in the car park outside the power station.[62]

November 6, 2008: Activists shut down Hazelwood power station

On November 6, 2008, a group of activists walked onto the site of the Hazelwood Power Station, one of the most inefficient power stations in the industrialised world[63], to protest Australian inaction on climate change. Two people stopped and chained themselves to the conveyor belts which carry coal to the power station. The station was due to be decommissioned in 2009 but is undergoing rapid expansion to 2009.[64]. The group posted an explanation of their action, information about the plant, and justification for direct action on a purpose-built blog.

November 7, 2008: Activists shut down Tarong Power Station, Queensland, Australia

On November 7, 2008, two activists locked onto a conveyor belt and forced the evacuation of Queensland's Tarong Power Station, which produces around 1400MW of the State's energy. Station operator Tarong Power produces up to 25 percent of Queensland's electricity from three coal fired power stations, uses up to 7 million tons a coal a year from the company's nearby coal mine.[65] This action was the fourth action in just seven days targeting the coal industry in Australia and calling for the phase out of coal-fired power. The action also served to highlight the risk to Queensland's world heritage icon, the Great Barrier Reef, posed by climate change. Three people were arrested [66].

November 14-15, 2008: National Day of Action Against Coal Finance

Thousands of activists around the United States mobilized to protest coal mining, coal-fueled power plants, and coal financiers. The grassroots groups involved in the action included Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, Rising Tide North America, Mountain Justice, Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), Coal River Mountain Watch, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Southern Energy Network, and Earth First. Activists placed anti-coal banners in strategic locations across the country, protested at Bank of America and Citibank branches and shut down ATMs shut with crime scene tape, and infiltrated Bank of America's Energy Conference.[67]

November 14, 2008: Rising Tide Boston helps banks market "green" coal

As part of the National Coal Finance Day of Action, members of Rising Tide Boston set up outside Bank of America and Citibank branches to highlight the primary role these banks play in financing in coal power and mining. The activists handed out samples of "green coal" to imitate the coal industry's marketing pitch of "Clean Coal." According to one activist's pitch, "Although we’ve spent a lot of time and resources researching ways to make coal environmentally friendly, or ‘clean and green’, the best way we found to do it is to paint it green."[68]

November 18, 2008: Activists protest Santee Cooper, Johnsonville, SC

Student activists gathered outside Johnsonville High School during a public hearing to protest the proposed Pee Dee Generating Facility. Sponsored by Santee Cooper, the project would include two 600MW pulverized coal-fired power plants along the Great Pee Dee River in Florence County, South Carolina. The activists brought with them a black inflatable coal plant similar to a jump castle, with a sign saying "CLEAN UP DIRTY COAL PLANTS NOW." The public hearing concerned water quality.[69] Santee Cooper's environmental impact study for the plant acknowledged that despite the utility's best efforts, some toxic materials will end up in the river.[70]

November 25, 2008: Greenpeace activists protest outside mine, Poznan, Poland

About two dozen Greenpeace activists protested at a new opencast mine, waving "Quit coal!" banners and clashing with miners. The incident drew attention to the upcoming COP14 conference on climate change. The city of Poznan will be the site of the UN-led conference, which is aimed at creating a new global climate agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012. Poland relies on coal to generate more than 90 percent of its energy needs.[71]

November 27, 2008: Australian student activists blockade Munmorah coal-fired power station on the eve of international climate negotiations

On Thursday 27 November, four people from the Australian Student Environment Network entered the Munmorah Power Station on the NSW Central Coast, attaching themselves to conveyor belts carrying coal. Twenty people staged a protest outside the power station. Spokesperson Ann-Marie Rohlfs said, "We are facing a climate emergency, but our emissions are still rising. We call on the Rudd Government to ensure 2010 is the year Australia's greenhouse emissions peak and begin to rapidly decline. This blockade at the Munmorah Power Station is part of a huge community effort to kick Australia's coal habit. As the oldest power station in NSW, Munmorah Power station must be the first to go in the new green economy." Four people were arrested. [72]

November 28, 2008: Activist shuts down Kingsnorth Power Station in Britain

In full view of security cameras, a single activist climbed two 10-foot, razor-wired and electrified security fences at E.ON's coal-fired power plant and crashed a huge 500MW turbine, leaving behind a banner that read "no new coal." All power from the plant was down for four hours, which cut the UK's CO2 emissions by an estimated 2 percent. Police are still searching for the activist.[73]

December 2, 2008: Greenpeace activists block coal ship in the Baltic Sea

Greenpeace activists blocked the ship Hanjin Imabari, carrying coal from South Africa to the Danish coal plant Enstedvaerkey, in Aabenraa. The aim of the protest, according to a Greenpeace spokesman, was to increase the pressure on European Union negotiators meeting in Poznan, Poland, to take serious action on climate change.[74]

December 5, 2008: Santa protest at Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee

With help from United Mountain Defense and Three Rivers Earth First! Santa and elves came armed with coal and switches for the largest purchaser of coal in North America: TVA. Santa read letters from sad children who could not go outside and play sometimes because of days where it is literally unhealthy to breathe in Knoxville, letters from children sad that too many of their grandparents die slow deaths of extended asphyxiation while lugging around bottled oxygen, and letters from children complaining that mountains are being blown up to get at that coal. The children said they felt that the drinking water was important and that they liked playing in the forest. After being asked to leave the premises, the North Pole-based environmental group proceeded outside to sing anti-coal carols and hand out information sheets.[75]

December 11 and 12, 2008: Santa detailed at Tennessee Valley Authority offices in Chatanooga, Tennessee

On Decemer 11, while attempting again to deliver letters from sad children, Santa was detained by the TVA police for an hour and half and issued a warning citation for supposedly disrupting a board meeting which had officially ended. The arresting TVA officer became concerned when he discovered that Santa had switches concealed in his britches. Santa was released after being detained without milk and cookies. Santa told reporters: “I am depending on all the little activist elves to deliver more coal to federal agencies in hopes to influence the first 100 days of president-elect Obama's administration through the newly appointed agency heads. This new administration must make stopping strip mining and addressing the destructive impact of coal on Santa’s children its first priority. Ho Ho Ho.” [76] At 4 p.m. on December 12, while Santa and his elves were dancing and singing, TVA sent out one of its head PR people, Gill Francis. Mr. Francis wanted to meet and negotiate with Santa but Santa was too busy and took a number. After finishing the dance, Santa had his head elf call Mr. Francis to come back out and negotiate. When Mr. Francis appeared slightly out of breath Santa said he was sorry and put coal and switches in Mr. Francis hands saying, "This is the least favorite part of my job Mr. Francis--but TVA has been veerrrrry naughty." As Mr. Francis stormed off Santa and his elves resumed dancing.[77]



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