Protesters Block Coal Train in North Carolina

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by
Common Dreams

Protesters Block Coal Train in North Carolina

'Can Historic Actions This Week Stop Coal in Its Tracks?'

by
Common Dreams staff

Activists set up a blockade to stop a coal train en route to Duke Energy’s Marshall coal plant in Terrell, North Carolina on May 3, 2012 and branded it with the Apple logo. The train is carrying coal extracted from the mountains of Appalachia using the most destructive form of mining, mountain top removal. Mountaintop removal coal will be burned at the Marshall coal plant, sold to the North Carolina grid, and will eventually be used to power Apple’s Maiden, NC data center, currently under construction. (GREENPEACE PHOTO)

Seven anti-coal protesters were arrested Thursday after chaining themselves to a railroad track outside of Terrell, North Carolina and halting a coal train heading to a Duke Energy power plant there. 

The protesters were from Greenpeace, Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival, Katuah Earth First! and Keepers of the Mountains Foundation, according to a release from Greenpeace. The group strung a banner across the railroad tracks that read, “Save our mountains, clean the cloud.”

Casey Harrell of Greenpeace said the protesters chained themselves to the track at about 9 a.m. Thursday to prevent a train carrying coal from entering the plant, reports the Charlotte Observer. Harrell said the protesters had walked the track from Sherrills Ford Road, about a half-mile west of the plant, and chained themselves before it enters the power plant’s property.

“The group was able to stop the train from passing by,” said Molly Dorozenski, a Greenpeace spokeswoman.

"Corporations must understand that the use and demand for coal from bombing mountains in Appalachia is not only destroying one of the oldest most bio-diverse mountain ranges in the United States," said mountaintop removal activist Mickey McCoy, who was among those arrested, "But is also releasing carcinogenic heavy metals into our streams - killing Appalachians, and contributing to the sickness and death of countless others outside the area who depend on these headwaters for their water source."

According to regional activists, writes journalist Jeff Biggers at Common Dreams today, "the Marshall Station burns coal strip-mined from mountaintop removal operations in central Appalachia, a now well-documented process that has led to a humanitarian and health care crisis in McCoy's native Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and neighboring southwest Virginia and eastern Tennessee."

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Jeff Biggers: Can Historic Actions This Week Stop Coal in Its Tracks?

On the heels of Rainforest Action Network's surprise scaling of Charlotte's Bank of America stadium yesterday, where activists draped a 70-foot "Bank of Coal" banner highlighting the financial world's shadowy investments in Big Coal operations, and two days before revered climate scientist James Hansen and Canadian activists vowed to stop Warren Buffett's BNSF's coal trains on unceded Coast Salish territory in British Columbia, the big question is whether today's action in North Carolina marks a ramped up commitment in the coal free movement for a historic summer uprising.

"Corporations must understand that the use and demand for coal from bombing mountains in Appalachia is not only destroying one of the oldest most bio-diverse mountain ranges in the United States," McCoy declared, who was arrested with five others from RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival), Katuah Earth First! and Keepers of the Mountains Foundation, while protests took place outside Duke offices in Charlotte. "But it is also -- by releasing carcinogenic heavy metals into our streams - killing Appalachians, and contributing to the sickness and death of countless others outside the area who depend on these headwaters for their water source."

The protests this week also validate, in many respects, the recent victory in Chicago, where long-time efforts by grassroots groups in the Little Village and the Pilsen neighborhoods were dramatically assisted by direct actions by Greenpeace and other national organizations. Today, in fact, multinational Edison announced it would close its decrepit Midwest Generation coal-fired plants in Chicago by September -- two years earlier than expected.

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Charlotte Observer: Protesters block train at Duke plant

With Charlotte officials braced for protests at Duke Energy’s annual shareholders’ meeting uptown, environmental activists on Thursday staged a surprise attack miles away instead, temporarily blocking a coal train from entering a Duke Energy plant near Lake Norman.

The stunt came a day after activists scaled Bank of America Stadium to unfurl an anti-coal banner; it gave authorities yet another test for their response capabilities in the run-up to this fall’s Democratic National Convention.

Seven people were arrested after protesters from Greenpeace and three other organizations chained themselves to railroad tracks Thursday and blocked a train from entering Duke’s Marshall Steam Station in Catawba County.

The groups said they aimed the protest at Duke Energy for its use of coal-powered plants, and at technology giant Apple. Activists said they targeted Apple because it is using Duke Energy power to expand its data center at Maiden in Catawba County.

Norfolk Southern special agents, who are sworn officers, charged each protester with one count each of misdemeanor trespassing on a railroad right-of-way and unlawful impairment of railroad operations, Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman said.

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