Nonviolent direct actions against coal: 2009
|This article is part of the Global Energy Monitor coverage of non-violent direct actions against coal|
Around the world, the pace of direct action efforts against coal increased in 2008 and promised to continue in 2009. 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 actions against coal: 2013
- Nonviolent direct actions against coal: 2012
- Nonviolent direct actions against coal: 2011
- Nonviolent direct actions against coal: 2010
- Nonviolent direct actions against coal: 2008
- Nonviolent direct actions against coal: 2004-2007
- Coal Finance Day of Action
- Coal Activist Videos
- Coal Activist Videos: Direct Action
- Coal Activist Videos: Mountaintop removal
- State-by-State Guide to Information on Coal in the United States
- International Information on Coal
- Citizen groups working on coal issues - 250+ groups
- Power companies and agencies in the United States
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.
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.
Several categories of political and economic activities can thus be understood as direct actions:
- Strikes or boycotts against economic authorities
- Blockades and occupations of physical spaces
- Destruction of property or resources
- Violent resistance against authorities
- Building alternatives to existing social/economic relationships
Descriptions of specific actions
January 31, 2009: Sludge Safety Lobby Day, Charleston, WV
Residents of southern West Virginia descended on the state capitol, bringing along jars of black water taken from their wells in Boone and Mingo Counties. They spent the day lobbying legislators to stop slurry injections into sludge ponds until studies could show what toxic materials the slurry contains.
February 3, 2009: Coal River Mountain activists arrested, Pettus, West Virginia
Five Coal River Mountain activists were arrested and charged with trespassing after locking themselves to a bulldozer and a backhoe at a Massey Energy mountaintop removal site. The activists planted a banner for the Coal River Wind Project in protest of the impending 6,600 acre mountaintop removal strip mine. Later in the day, eight more activists were arrested during a demonstration against Massey Energy's preparations to blast the mountain. Environmentalists contend that the mountain is better developed for a wind energy project, and that the blasting could destabilize the world's largest toxic coal slurry impoundment.
February 5, 2009: Rising Tide Boston crashes Harvard lecture by Arch Coal CEO: Cambridge, MA
Seven activists from Rising Tide Boston disrupted a lecture given by Arch Coal CEO Steve Leer at Harvard University. Leer was speaking about the future of "clean coal" technology. The activists interjected information on the impacts of coal extraction, including their final question, "What gives you the right to gamble the future of civilization on a magic technology that doesn’t exist?" While Leer tried to ignore the question, two members of Rising Tide carried a banner on stage that read "The coal bubble is bursting - Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie." The lecture was funded by Bank of America, the single largest financial backer of mountaintop removal.
February 7, 2009: Billionaires for Coal visit Dominion headquarters: Richmond, VA
About two dozen people identifying themselves "Billionaires for Coal" gathered outside the headquarters of Dominion to lampoon the coal industry. The activists wore formal dress and sipped from wine glasses, while shouting pro-coal, anti-environment slogans including "Up with sea levels, up with profits." A bluegrass band also performed, calling themselves "The We Love Money String Band". Although the group's signs and chants stayed on message with the billionaire façade, the activists distributed leaflets revealing that the demonstration was organized by Blue Ridge Earth First!
February 9, 2009: Grassroots efforts force radio host Ed Schultz to consider anti-coal viewpoints
On February 6, so-called "progressive" radio host Ed Schultz allowed Joe Lucas, Senior Vice President of Communications for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, unchallenged air time to promote coal industry propaganda. After three and a half hours of grassroots pressure through emails and phone calls, Schultz opened the topic of "clean coal" on his show and invited an "anti-coal" guest on his show. Schultz is admittedly pro-coal, but he acknowledged the pressure he was under to provide the other side of the story.
February 12, 2009: Residents protest proposed Santee Cooper Plant: Florence County, SC
More than 100 residents of Florence County, SC brought an inflatable smokestack to the courthouse to protest the permit that was granted to Santee Cooper to build the Pee Dee Generating Facility on the banks of the Great Pee Dee River. The plant would emit over 11 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, as well as 60 different toxic pollutants, including arsenic, dioxins, heavy metals, mercury, and selenium.
February 14, 2009: Activists close accounts with Bank of America, San Francisco, CA
On Valentine's Day, more than 25 activists in San Francisco called on Bank of America to stop funding mountaintop removal mining. The Rising Tide Bay Area protesters served the bank a foreclosure notice for "failing to pay its social and environmental debts" and closed accounts with the bank, pulling out over $10k in San Francisco alone. The action was part of a nationwide campaign against Bank of America organized by Rising Tide North America.
February 16, 2009: Two arrested for halting blasting at mountaintop removal site, Raleigh County, WV
On Monday, February 16 2009, two protesters were arrested for interfering with mountaintop removal blasting on the Massey Energy-owned Edwhite site near the Shumate sludge dam in Raleigh County, WV. The Shumate sludge dam holds back 2.8 billion gallons of toxic sludge, the waste by-product of chemically cleaning coal, and sits directly above the Marsh Fork elementary school. aerial map 
February 17, 2009: Hundreds rally for end to mountaintop removal, Frankfort, KY
Hundreds of activists from ILoveMountains and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, as well as actress Ashley Judd, gathered outside the state capitol building to protest mountaintop removal mining and rally for proposed legislation that been stuck for several years in the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Don Pasley, D-Winchester, would prohibit mining operations from dumping refuse into adjacent streams, but coal interests in the legislature have managed to keep the bill from getting a vote on the floor.
February 19th, 2009: March in Corpus Christi, TX
Over 200 citizens wearing respirators marched along the Corpus Christi bay front to protest the proposed Las Brisas Energy Center. The marchers included local doctors, who warned that the plant would worsen asthma rates, heart attacks, cancer, neurological and behavioral problems, and failed births. Estimates suggest that the plant would produce over 21000 tons of air pollution a year, more than the annual emissions of all the surrounding counties combined.
March 1, 2009: Activists rally against coal in Massachusetts
Citizens across Massachusettes rallied outside of the state's three major coal plants to show support for the March 2nd Capitol Plant protest in Washington, DC. The largest demonstration was in Somerset, MA, where residents gathered to protest the Somerset plant. Groups also convened in Holyoke and Salem Harbor, MA.
March 2, 2009: Thousands gather to protest coal and global warming, Washington, D.C.
In the largest protest yet against global warming, several thousand demonstrators convened outside the Capitol Power Plant, calling on Congress to pass legislation to reduce greenhouse gases. Around 2,500 people blockaded the gates to the plant. No arrests were made.  Just days before the planned protest, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the plant would be taken off coal and switched to natural gas. The announcement was viewed by many as a victory for grassroots activism, but the rally went forward to call attention to coal issues around the country.
Also on March 2, organizers of the Power Shift 2009 conference spearheaded a grassroots lobbying drive described as "the biggest lobbying day on climate and energy" in the history of the U.S., with approximately 4,000 students visiting almost every congressional office.
March 4, 2009: United Mountain Defense volunteer arrested by TVA
United Mountain Defense volunteer staff person Matt Landon was arrested while driving a blind grandmother home after a public meeting through an unstaffed illegal TVA roadblock following the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill on December 22, 2008.
March 5, 2009: Activists protest mountaintop removal, Pettus, WV
Five activists protested at a Massey Energy Edwight mountaintop removal site on Cherry Pond Mountain, unfurling a banner that read "Stop the blasting, Save the kids." The protesters were calling attention to the blasting taking place near a dam that holds 2.8 billion gallons of sludge and lies just a few hundred yards above the Marsh Fork Elementary School. All five were arrested.
March 10th, 2009: "Freeze on Coal" at Middlebury College, VT
Following the lead established by students at Santa Clara University, who convinced the school's president to divest the university from Massey Energy stock, more schools are instigating similar campaigns. Senior Nate Blumenshine at Middlebury College planned a "Freeze on Coal" to launch a campaign to convince the administration to divest from coal. On March 10th, 40 students froze in place while getting lunch in the busiest cafeteria on campus. The activists held a pieces of charcoal in their hands. The "freeze" lasted for two minutes, after which the students continued with their meal, explaining to onlookers what had just happened.
March 10th, 2009: Council Building Blockade in Brussels, Belgium
More than 300 Greenpeace protesters blocked the entrances of the Council Building in Brussels to urge finance ministers to fix the climate. From 20 countries, protesters locked themselves to gates and fences while large contingents of anti-riot police and EU security forces detained and arrested participants and secured the entrances. Protesters are still in police custody, and it is unclear whether charges will be filed. 
March 14, 2009: Protesters march against coal in Palm Springs, CA
More than fifty people marched through downtown Palm Springs to call attention to the need for a moratorium on the construction of new coal-fired power plants. Protesters carried signs reading, "Quit Coal Now!" The march was part of the Power Past Coal campaign, a 100-day national action that began January 21 runs through April 30.
March 14, 2009: 14 Arrested at TVA headquarters in Knoxville, TN
Local residents joined dozens of activists from across the country in a demonstration at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s headquarters, which resulted in the arrest of 14 individuals, after participating in a "die in" in front of the building. This event was held in solidarity with communities affected by the destructive impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining and the survivors of the coal ash disaster in Harriman. The demonstration began with a rally in Market Square, where organizers from United Mountain Defense and Mountain Justice spoke about coal's impact from cradle to grave on communities in Appalachia and the surrounding area. The crowd then marched through downtown Knoxville and ended at TVA’s headquarters. At the end of the march people interested in participating in civil disobedience gave a statement as to why they wanted to take this action. With the support of a singing crowd each participant fell to the ground representing the deaths caused by the coal industry. After a few minutes Knoxville law enforcement informed the participants that they were blocking the sidewalk, and that they needed to remove themselves from the area. All 14 people were arrested, and cited for loitering.
March 19, 2009: Anti-coal protesters gather outside Statehouse in Topeka, KS
Over 200 Kansas residents rallied on Statehouse grounds to protest legislation that would resurrect two coal plants proposed for Western Kansas. The group included environmentalists opposed to coal, steelworkers pushing to build wind turbines, rural advocacy groups, and a Christian minister. Bill 2182 would strip the Health Secretary and the Department of Health and the Environment of their power to regulate industry based on air quality concerns. The bill has passed both the House and the Senate, but the Governor has promised to veto the measure in its current form.
March 20, 2009: 'Bluegrass at the Bank' hits Bank of America branch in Sarasota, FL
Members of Mountain Justice and Earth First! from Florida and Appalachia disrupted the lobby of a Bank of America branch in Sarasota in protest of the Bank's continued funding of mountaintop removal mining and the construction of new coal-fired power plants despite recent claims of environmental concern. While several folks distributed informational hand-outs about BoA's investments in coal to tellers and account-holders, one individual played bluegrass banjo to celebrate the culture of the Appalachian region that BoA's investments so threaten. The activists' signs read, "Bank of America: still funding coal, killing communities."
March 21, 2009: Protesters blockade coal terminal in Newcastle, Australia
Hundreds of activists shut down the world's largest coal terminal to send a message to Australia to stop exporting coal. The blockade prevented coal carriers from entering Newcastle. The protesters paddled kayaks and boats made from milk crates and inflated inner tubes. Greens parliamentarian Lee Rhiannon commented, "These people sent a serious message that the government, if they are going to be serious about climate change, they must address the coal industry." He also promised that, "we will continue with future peaceful actions if we think it's necessary."
March 26, 2009: DC Rising Tide disrupts CTL conference in Washington, DC
Activists with DC Rising Tide interrupted an industry conference to denounce coal-to-liquids technologies. The protesters stood in the audience and gave loud speeches refuting the statements of executives from Chevron, CONSOL Energy, World Coal Institute, and World Petroleum Council. Displaying banners including "Coal kills" and "Renewable energy now," the activists called for an end to fossil fuels and for adoption of clean, renewable energy sources.
March 30, 2009: Students rally outside capitol in Austin, TX
Student activists from ReEnergize Texas gathered at the capitol to rally for clean energy projects and green jobs. Members of the state legislature were also in attendance. The group expressed support for proposed legislation that would enact a temporary moratorium on coal plants without carbon capture and sequestration. After the rally, the activists visited 75 legislative offices to lobby for the bill.
March 31, 2009: Lone activist shuts down Bank of America branch in Boston, MA
An activist with Mannequins for Climate Justice chained himself to the doors of the Kenmore Square Bank of America just before it opened. The protester, who called himself Guy Fox, said of his actions, "Even a dummy like me can see that Bank of America’s massive loans to coal companies and support for the epidemic of foreclosures and evictions has to stop now."
April 1, 2009: Greenpeace activists hold a "coal circus" on Boston Common in Boston, MA
As part of the global Fossil Fools Day campaign, about 20 Greenpeace activists staged a "coal circus" to refute the coal industry's claims that coal plants can produce energy without significant greenhouse gas emissions. The protesters wore clown suits and put up a banner that read, "The Coal Circus. It's so Clean! (April Fools.)" Greenpeace Field Organizer David Pomerantz commented, "April 1st a great day to do something fun, but nothing is more deathly serious than the idea of continuing to burn coal. Coal is killing our future."
April 14, 2009: 114 arrested for allegedly planning direct action against coal plant in Nottingham, UK
Police carried out what may be the largest preemptive strike on environmental activism in British history. 114 people were arrested for planning a direct action at a coal-fired power station, believed to be E.ON's Ratcliff-on-Soar plant. Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green party, said, "confidence in policing of protests like this has just about hit rock bottom. Peaceful protest is a civil liberty we need to be upheld, even more in the context of the lack of government action on climate change. We have tried all the usual channels." The alleged activists were charged with conspiracy to commit criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
E.ON confirmed that the Ratcliff plant was the intended target. No group claimed responsibility for the alleged protest. Although no details of the proposed action were available, veteran activists suggested that demonstrators may have planned to chain themselves to conveyor belts transporting coal into the power plant. The tactic has been used at both Ratcliffe and the Kingsnorth Power Station, also owned by E.ON UK.
April 16, 2009: Activists arrested at Massey Energy mine in West Virginia
Five people were arrested when activists from Climate Ground Zero unfurled a 40-foot-tall banner that read, "EPA stop MTR" at Massey Energy's Edwight mountaintop removal mine. Massey recently starting blasting at the mine directly above the town of Naoma. Activists are concerned because the blasting is near a slurry dam, which poses a risk to the local Marsh Fork Elementary School.
April 20, 2009: Hundreds protest in Charlotte, N.C. against Duke's proposed Cliffside plant in Charlotte, NC
Hundreds of people marched and rallied against Cliffside in Charlotte, NC. The demonstration was organized by more than a dozen environmental, faith-based, and social justice groups, which are calling on Duke Energy and the state of North Carolina to cancel construction of the Cliffside plant. 44 activists were arrested.
To see video of this protest, see Stop Cliffside
April 20, 2009: Activists begin fast to urge immediate action on global warming
More than 200 people from 30 states and six countries began fasting for a period of 1 to 40 days, in order to call attention to the need for the United States to demonstrate world leadership on climate change. The Fast For Our Future action is calling for legislation mandating a 25 to 40 percent or higher decrease in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels; a moratorium on building new coal-fired power plants; and strong climate legislation that contains no giveaways to polluters.
Activists from Greenpeace USA hung a huge banner from a crane across the street from the State Department to urge action from Ministers of the 17 largest global emitters. The ministers are in DC to discuss climate change as part of the Major Economies Forum. The banner read, "Too Big To Fail: Stop Global Warming - Rescue the Planet." Seven activists were arrested.
Activists dominated Duke Energy's annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC. About 25 protesters gathered outside the company's headquarters, calling for Duke to cancel its proposed Cliffside Plant. Inside the meeting, activists who own shares of the company grilled CEO Jim Rogers about the company's coal and nuclear investments.
May 23, 2009: Seven arrested at Massey Energy complex in West Virginia
More than seventy-five residents of the Coal River Valley and members of a coalition that includes Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero picketed the entrance to Massey Energy's Marfork Complex. The actions were in protest of the company's plans to blast 100 feet away from the Brushy Fork coal sludge impoundment. The demonstration began with a prayer and sermon by Bob "Sage" Russo of Christians for the Mountains. Referencing the Sermon on the Mount, he called upon citizens to be stewards of the Earth and to move towards sustainable, stable jobs. Protestors stood in front of the gates of the mine facility with signs including "7 billion spilled, 998 killed." "Passersby on Route 3 were overwhelming supportive with honks, waves, and thumbs up signs," Rock Creek (Raleigh County) resident Julia Sendor said. During the protest, seven people approached the entrance to the dam facility and the Whitesville detachment of the West Virginia State Police asked them to leave. When the seven refused, the State Police arrested them. After the arrests, former U.S. Congressman Ken Hechler, a longtime opponent of strip mining, gave a speech. He underscored the responsibility of citizens to safeguard their freedoms and stand up for their rights. The protest came just hours after activists carried out two non-violent direct actions to protest mountaintop removal and coal sludge impoundments.
May 23, 2009: Two protesters in boats arrested on Brushy Fork impoundment, West Virigina
Two people wearing hazmat suits and respirators were arrested after boating onto the Brushy Fork impoundment and floating a banner that read, "No More Toxic Sludge." State Police charged the activists with littering and misdemeanor trespass and transported them to the Southern Regional Jail. Their bail has been set at $2,000.
May 23, 2009: Police remove 6 activists from mountaintop removal equipment in West Virginia
Six people raised a "Never Again" banner and locked themselves to mining equipment at Massey Energy's Patriot Coal mine on Kayford Mountain. State Police arrived on site to find three people chained to the main axle of the truck and three others chained outside the truck's cab. The police removed the six activists, who, along with two others supporting them, were transported to the Madison County Courthouse, where they were reportedly processed and released. The protesters are part of a coalition that includes Mountain Justice, Climate Ground Zero, and concerned citizens.
May 23, 2009: 4,000 people protest proposed coal plant in Mainz, Germany
Thousands of activists gathered in Mainz to protest an 820-megawatt coal-fired power plant being built on the banks of the Rhine river. The protesters carried banners and marched through the city to display their opposition to the new plant, which is expected to be operational by 2013. The group included local farmers, environmental activists, residents, students, and politicians.
June 2009: Protesters at Mainshill Wood in Scotland Protest Coal Mine
Climate change activists, calling themselves the Mainshill Solidarity Camp, erected a treehouse, tunnels and even a hammock that surrounded a site of a proposed opencast coal mine controlled by Scottish Coal. Protester Ross Jones said: "The reaction has been amazing. It was the first of its kind demonstration against coal mining in the country. Protesters stated that it was the beginning of more such actions to follow.
June 13, 2009: Climate activists blockade Rudd's office
Activists took to the streets and blockaded the prime minister's Sydney office protesting the Rudd government's response to climate change. Streets were blocked off as protesters in Sydney marched from the harbour to Kevin Rudd's city office, where they staged a short sit-in protest against the carbon emissions scheme. The rallies attracted about 6,000 people nationwide, and included environmental groups like Greenpeace and the Wilderness Society who want an emissions scheme ditched in favour of an alternative dubbed "Plan B", which includes the phasing out of coal-fired power stations and 100% renewable by 2020.
June 21, 2009: 10 activists board coal ship in Kent, England
Ten Greenpeace activists boarded a ship delivering coal to the Kingsnorth Power Station. The group used inflatable speedboats to target the boat as it sailed up the River Medway. All 10 protesters were arrested and charged with conspiring to commit criminal damage and having an unauthorized presence on a ship.
June 18, 2009: Activists scale 20-story dragline at MTR site in Twilight, WV
Four protesters visited the Massey Energy Twilight mountaintop removal site in Boone County, WV, and climbed a 20-story strip mining machine called a dragline. The activists unfurled a 15 foot by 150 foot banner that read, "Just Stop Mountaintop Removal." The action launched a week of protests at West Virginia MTR sites, leading up to a special action on June 23 in the Coal River Valley area. The June 23rd action will include local coalfield residents, NASA climate scientist James Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah, former US Representative Ken Hechler, and many others.
June 23, 2009: 29 arrested protesting at Massey Energy site in Coal River Valley, WV
94-year-old former US Representative Ken Hechler, NASA climate scientist James Hansen, RAN director Michael Brune, actress Daryl Hannah, Goldman Prize Award winner Judy Bonds, and many other coal activists and local residents were arrested the Coal River action. The protesters crossed onto Massey Energy property to protest mountaintop removal and the destruction of mountains above the Coal River Valley community. Massey supporters were on scene and often behaved aggressively, shouting and ripping power cords out to silence the PA system. One Massey supporter assaulted Judy Bonds and attempted to assault another, and was arrested and charged with battery. The action launched a yearlong national campaign to end mountaintop removal mining.
June 29, 2009: More than 700 people turn out against carbon sequestration project in Greenville, OH
More than 700 people attended a meeting organized by opponents of a proposed $92.8 million carbon capture and storage project in Ohio. The project would inject carbon dioxide from a nearby ethanol plant more than 3,000 feet underground. The group included local residents, activists, and politicians. A representative of the Ohio Environmental Council commented that he had "rarely seen a community that well organized and that strong."
June 29, 2009: Banner drop at EPA headquarters, Boston, MA
Activists with Rising Tide draped a 25-foot banner reading, “Mountain Top Removal Kills Communities: EPA No New Permits. MountainJustice.org” at the downtown offices of the Environmental Protection Agency. The group is urging the agency to block over 150 pending permits for mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.
July 8, 2009: Greenpeace activists climb Mount Rushmore
Several Greenpeace activists climbed Mount Rushmore in South Dakota to hang a banner calling for action on climate change. The banner, which was sixty-five feet high by thirty-five feet wide, featured a portrait of President Obama and read, "America Honors Leaders Not Politicians: Stop Global Warming." The action was part of an effort to send a message to world leaders at the G8 meeting in L'Aquila, Italy. Three climbers and eight supporters were arrested.Daniel Fahrenthold
July 10, 2009: Greenpeace activists spray-paint coal ship and power station in Italy
A group of Greenpeace activists spray-painted the message "G8: Failed" on a ship carrying 25,000 tons of coal bound for the Civitavecchia power station, near Rome. Further south, activists in Brindisi painted "Stupid" on Italy's largest coal plant. The actions were intended to protest the G8 meeting on climate change, which UN official Yvo de Boer described as "disappointing."
July 14, 2009: More than 200 people turn out for rally against coal plant in Boulder, CO
More than 200 Boulder residents attended a rally opposing Valmont Station. Activists from Greenpeace and Clean Energy Action planned the rally to draw attention to a hearing on renewing Valmont's air permit. Many Boulder residents are pushing for the plant to stop burning coal and switch to cleaner energy.
July 16, 2009: Protesting farmers blockade mining company
150 farmers living in Bangun Rejo village, Kutai Kartanegara regency, blocked the road access to coal firm PT Kitadin on Thursday to protest against activities stopping farmers from harvesting. The protesters, who transmigrated from Blitar, East Java, in 1981, said mining activities had caused a build up of sediment in the river, whose water they relied mostly on to irrigate their rice fields. He added the company had promised to help the farmers secure water but the promise never materialized. The protest ended after farmer representatives and the firm agreed to hold talks to settle the issue.
July 29, 2009: Hundreds rally for clean energy in Lansing, MI
Hundreds of individuals gathered at the Michigan State Capitol to rally for the development of wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources instead of building new coal plant projects in the state. The rally was hosted by a coalition of environmental groups, including Clean Water Action, Michigan Interfaith Power and Light, the Michigan Land Use Institute, and Sierra Club. Organizers said they hoped to convince lawmakers to expand investments in the state that support clean, renewable energy.
August 5, 2009: Protesters block Hay Pt. coal terminal in Australia
Greenpeace activists used the group's largest ship to block BHP Billiton's coal terminal on the northwest coast of Australia. The action halted loading and shipments for the world’s largest mining company for more than 36 hours.
August 10, 2009: Activists dump coal outside South Lanarkshire Council headquarters in Hamilton, UK
Activists protesting plans for a new mine near Douglas, UK dumped piles of coal outside the headquarters of South Lanarkshire Council. A damaged conveyor belt, which was suspected to be another action by climate change protesters, disrupted coal deliveries at an existing mine in the area. The protesters, organized by the Camp for Climate Action Scotland, said they wanted to call attention to the environmental and health issues of open cast mining.
August 11, 2009: Four Activists arrested at Department of Environmental Protection in Charleston, WV
Four protesters locked themselves to the entrance at the West Virginia DEP, displaying signs that read, "Closed Due to Incompetence" and "Department of Encouraging Pollution." The activists demanded that the EPA and Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement take over of the agency's programs. They also called for Secretary Randy Huffman's resignation. All four protesters were arrested.
August 13, 2009: "Going Away Party" for National Coal Corporation in Knoxville, TV
An employee with National Coal Corporation forcefully removed a non-violent anti-mountaintop removal protester from the National Coal headquarters in West Knoxville. The protester was part of a group participating in “Love and Hug National Coal Month,” part of a series of protests organized by United Mountain Defense every Thursday in August at National Coal’s office. The protesters had organized a “Going Away Party” for NCC after the coal company defaulted on $60 million dollars of loans in Alabama in July 2009. To mark this event the protestors brought balloons and cupcakes reading “Bye National Coal’ and “Take a Hike”. Wearing party hats and dancing to festive music, the volunteers entered the National Coal Headquarters in order to deliver the cupcakes. Within 30 seconds an employee of National Coal Corporation wrapped his hand around the video camera, contorted the cameraman’s wrist and escorted the peaceful group back outside, at which point he stated that NCC did not want to call the police. The non-violent protesters complied with the National Coal employee’s request and moved to the public right of way in front of the office building. They educated passing motorists, gave away the unwanted cupcakes, danced, and had a fun time in the hot sun.
August 25-31, 2009: Activists occupy trees to stop blasting in Coal River Valley, WV
Protesters from Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice occupied treetops at the edge of Massey Energy’s Edwight mountaintop removal site in Raleigh County, West Virginia. The activists unrolled banners reading "Stop Mountain Top Removal" and "DEP – Don’t Expect Protection." They were less than 30 feet from the mine and less than 300 feet from the blasting activity, which was forced to stop because of their close proximity. The protest lasted six days, when the last activist finally descended and was arrested. A spokesman for Climate Ground Zero said sleep deprivation had been endangering the protesters.
September 1, 2009:Climate change campaigners blockade London headquarters of Royal Bank of Scotland
Climate campaigners have blockaded the City headquarters of Royal Bank of Scotland, superglueing their hands to the floor of the bank. Dressed as construction workers, they used stepladders to unfurl banners . Climate camp activists also staged a protest on the roof of a building in central London that houses public relations company Edelman, which activists said was the firm behind advertising plans for a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent. A group of demonstrators also occupied the lobby and entrance to the building. The climate camp was set up in south-east London last Wednesday and will run until the end of this week. People taking part have now staged a series of protests outside buildings in central London, including the Treasury yesterday. The activists said they were protesting against the bank's investments in fossil fuel projects, especially funding for the coal industry and tar sands extraction in Canada. 
September 26, 2009: Hundreds protest coal in Copenhagen
Approximately 1,500 activists mounted a protest against coal-fired power plants, but they were unable to enter a coal plant they had hoped to shut down by chaining themselves to conveyor belts. Police blocked the protesters from entering Copenhagen's Amagervaerket power station. About 100 people were arrested.
October 2009: Greenpeace activist stops coal freighter
Over 50 British Greenpeace activists in October 2009 led a protest on top of the House of Parliament to protest the country's use of coal. The activists that were arrested spent one day in jail. Emma Gibson, one of the protesters involved, stated that her children give her the strength to be involved in such actions against coal.
"Having twins changed me enormously. Physically and emotionally it was a very difficult experience," she said. "I felt that if I could survive twins, then I could survive anything."
October 5, 2009 Five Held in Coal Protest
Ten people blockaded the Ravenstruther terminal near Lanark in opposition to five new open pit coal mines in the area and 13 new mines in Scotland. Police said one man was arrested for assault and three women and a man arrested for breach of the peace.
October 11, 2009: Activists chain themselves to conveyor belt at Australian coal mine
Four protesters from Climate Camp locked themselves to a conveyor belt at a the Dendrobrium coal mine south of Sydney. Police arrested five people, who will likely be charged with trespassing.
October 17-18, 2009: Protest against E.ON's Ratcliffe plant, UK
On August 31, 2009, Climate Camp activists announced a planned action against the Ratcliffe coal-fired power plant in central England. The protesters hope to shut down the plant in a mass protest scheduled for October 17 and 18, 2009. Activist Charlotte Johnson said, "We will shut Ratcliffe by land, water and air. People will break into the plant and occupy the chimney. Coal power stations must be shut permanently if we are to have any chance of stopping catastrophic climate change." A spokesman for E.ON said the company will work with police to ensure the plant remains in operation. Ratliffe ranks 18th on a list of the most polluting power plants in Europe in 2008.
During the action, hundreds of protesters tried to break through a security fence surrounding the plant. Police arrested more than 50 activists.
October 22, 2009: Lockdown on WV MTR mine
Four Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice activists chained themselves to each other and blocked a road on a mountaintop removal mine in Kanawha County, WV. The protesters were joined by four people who provided them with support; all eight were arrested. Bail was set at $2,000 each (totaling $16,000) with no 10% bond option and was ordered to be paid in cash only.
October 22, 2009: Protesters stop coal ship from loading, Brisbane
Two environmental protesters have been arrested in Brisbane after briefly halting the loading of coal onto a Taiwanese vessel. Police used an angle grinder to cut a metal pipe, freeing the pair and loading resumed after about 45 minutes, the protesters said. Meanwhile, members of the Friends of the Earth group known as Six Degrees took to the Brisbane River in 16 kayaks, vowing to blockade the vessel, Formosabulk No.4, which was loading 90,000 tonnes of Queensland coal for Taiwan. Six Degrees spokesman Brad Smith said the group would continue to protest against Queensland's expanding coal industry.
October 23, 2009: Activists block coal trucks in West Virginia
Eight activists blocked a road at a Kanawha County, WV surface mine to protest mountaintop removal. The mine is owned by Ed Coal Co. The protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing, consipiracy, and obstructing an officer.
October 24, 2009: Activists protest outside Fisk Generating Station in Chicago, IL
Hundreds of activists gathered to march and rally in front of the Fisk Generating Station in Chicago, IL to observe an international day of action on climate change. In August 2009 the U.S. EPA and the State of Illinois sued Midwest Generation, the owner of Fisk and five other coal plants, charging the company with failing to install pollution control equipment required under the Clean Air Act. At the protest, eight people locked arms and sat down in front of the power plant. All eight were issued citations.
October 24, 2009: International Day of Climate Action
Tens of thousands of people gathered at more than 5,200 actions in over 180 countries around the world for the International Day of Climate Action. The protests were organized to call attention to the urgent issue of global climate change ahead of the December COP15 meetings in Copenhagen. Actions included climbers holding banners in the mountains of Switzerland, parades of cyclists in Copenhagen, Boulder, and San Francisco, organizers banging gongs and ringing church bells in Papua New Guinea and Barcelona, and thousands of people marching in Bogota and Kathmandu. All protests called attention to the number 350, reflecting the goal of reducing the amount carbon dioxide in the atmosphere below 350 parts per million. To see pictures of the numerous protests, go to 350.org.
October 28, 2009: Greenpeace Dumps Coal in Sweden
Over two dozen Greenpeace activists in Sweden dumped 18 tons of coal on outside the country's government offices on October 28, 2009 in protest of the state-run Vattenfall Energy. The company does not own or operate any coal-fired power plants in Sweden but has acquired 12 plants in Germany, Poland, The Netherlands and Denmark. The group of 30 or so activists unfurled a green banner on the facade of the building reading - Reinfeldt Stop Sweden's Coal Plants - and formed a ring around the entrance to the building. No arrests were reported.
October 26-29, 2009: Twenty arrested at Didcot A Power Station
On October 26, 2009, nine climate change protesters climbed the chimney, and eleven chained themselves to the coal delivery conveyors; the latter group were cut free by police after five hours, but the former waited until October 28 before coming down again — all twenty were arrested, and power supplies continued uninterrupted. The power station was installing improved security fencing at the time. The action was intended to draw attention to the plans of RWE Group to build as many as 30 new coal-fired power stations across Europe, including two in Britain. The group took over a room at the power station and pitched tents on top of a chimney tents. Two specialist climbers entered the chimney flues, intending to remain for a week in order to prevent the plant from restarting; however, after encountering hot conditions, they were unable to stay. At 4 a.m. on October 29, the group voluntarily came down from the chimney and were arrested. The group had met at Climate Camp in London.
October 30, 2009: Activists protest mountaintop removal at EPA offices throughout the U.S.
Activists from Mountain Justice, Rainforest Action Network, and other groups protested outside EPA's D.C. headquarters and outside other EPA offices throughout the country. More than 50 people staged a sit-in and rally at EPA headquarters. More than two dozen events took place on the same day, including actions in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Kansas City, and San Francisco. The activists are calling for immediate action to stop mountaintop removal coal mining, particularly targeting the Massey Energy blasting site at West Virginia's Coal River Mountain.
November 17, 2009: Activists shut down New Zealand coal mine
Protesters from Greenpeace blocked the entrance to the New Vale coal mine and chained themselves to equipment. The mine produces lignite coal that is used to power a nearby dairy factory. Four protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing. 
November 18, 2009: Demonstrators protest Cherokee and Valmont Stations in Denver, CO
Protesters dressed as clowns visited Colorado Governor Ritter's office to urge him to "stop clowning around when it comes to confronting global warming." Environmental groups are opposed to Xcel Energy's request to renew expired permits at its Cherokee and Valmont Stations and want the state to pursue clean energy options instead. New research has shown that nitrogen oxide emissions are clouding lakes, changing lake biology, and threatening the aquatic life in the Colorado mountains.
November 21, 2009: Protesters stop blasting on Coal River Mountain in Pettus, WV
Two activists locked themselves to a drill rig and two others unfurled a banner reading "Save Coal River Mountain" to protest Massey Energy's blasting at the Bee Tree mountaintop removal site. Residents are concerned because the blasts are 200 feet from the Brushy Fork Impoundment, which is permitted to hold nine billion gallons of coal sludge. Massey itself estimates that 998 people would die if the dam breaks. The activists said they plan to remain locked down until they are arrested.
November 23, 2009: Protesters block Australian Parliament's doors
Federal Parliament's front doors were locked today during a blockade by about 200 climate change protesters calling for deep cuts to carbon emissions. More than 20 police were called in to move the protesters away from Parliament's front doors and some left before they were forced out. Police dragged remaining protesters to an area under parliament, out of sight of reporters and photographers. As one young woman was arrested she shouted: "I'm not going to comply when the Rudd Government decides to do what the coal lobby says." Many of the arrested belonged to Rising Tide Newcastle. Some police officers involved were not wearing either name tags or identification numbers. 
November 30, 2009: Activists block delivery of generator to coal plant in Greenville, SC
Two protesters locked themselves to a 1.5 million pound generator being delivered to the Cliffside Plant in North Carolina. The activists vowed to prevent the generator from reaching the Duke Energy plant. Protesters also displayed a large banner reading "Stop Cliffside" from the top of the generator. More than 20 activists attended the protest; four were arrested. The action was organized by Asheville Rising Tide and Croatan Earth First! as part of a national day of action with dozens of protests planned around the U.S.
November 30, 2009: 200 rally over global warming at Bank of America in San Francisco, CA
More than 200 activists from Rainforest Action Network and other environmental groups marched to the Bank of America skyscraper in San Francisco to protest the bank's coal financing and interference in climate legislation. Dozens of protesters blockaded the building, some of whom locked themselves inside the building's revolving doors to disrupt business. 22 activists were arrested.
November 30, 2009: Activists stage "Die-In" at Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver, CO
Fifteen activists demonstrated outside the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (DPHE) to demand the denial of Xcel Energy's request to renew its air permit for Cherokee Station. The protesters greeted DPHE employees as they arrived for work and called on the department to close the coal plant. Protestors staged a "die-in" to call attention to the harmful health and environmental effects of coal. Other activists wore hazmat suits and roped off the area with "Global Warming Crime Scene" tape.
December 2, 2009: Activists invade French National Assembly climate change debate in Paris
Greenpeace activists interrupted a debate on the Copenhagen climate summit in the French National Assembly. Protesters waved banners, chanted from the guest galleries, rappelled into the area where parliament members sit. The activists were evicted, with Green Party members applauding their efforts and other officials decrying the invasion as "counter-productive" and "a violation of democracy."
December 7, 2009: 300 activists protest mountaintop removal in Charleston, WV
300 activists rallied outside the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to demand a halt to the blasting at Coal River Mountain. Environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke the protest, calling mountaintop removal a crime and saying that the environmental and health impacts of burning coal make it neither a cheap nor clean source of energy. About 200 coal miners and Massey Energy representatives attended the rally to jeer and try to drown out the speakers.
December 20, 2009: Activists chain themselves to coal train near Newcastle Port, Australia
Approximately 25 activists from Rising Tide Australia chained themselves to railroad tracks and a coal train to stop stopped trains from entering the Kooragang coal export terminal. The protest was aimed at shutting down coal export operations at Newcastle, which is the largest coal port in the world. The standoff continued for 6 hours before the protesters were removed by police. 23 activists were arrested and charged with rail safety offences.
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Related GEM.wiki articles
- Nonviolent direct actions against coal: 2008
- Nonviolent direct actions against coal: 2004-2007
- Nonviolent direct actions against coal
- Citizen groups working on coal issues
- State-by-State Guide to Information on Coal in the United States
- Proposed coal plants
- Coal plant cancellations
- What happened to the 151 proposed coal plants?
- Coal Activist Videos
- Bryan Walsh, "Taking on King Coal," Time Magazine, November 5, 2008.