For Immediate Release
Robin Broder, Director of Operations, Potomac Riverkeeper
Clean Coal? National Campaign Aims to Get Coal Industry to Come Clean
WASHINGTON - Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Chairman of Waterkeeper Alliance, announced
today the launch of the group's first national anti-coal campaign.
Called "The Dirty Lie," the campaign is intended to create broader
awareness of the destructiveness of coal-from its role in propping up
an antiquated fossil-fuel-based economy to its adverse effects on the
environment and the health of millions of Americans-and, ultimately, to
bring about a change in national energy policy.
"Simply stated, clean coal is a dirty lie," Kennedy said. "You don't
have to live in the coalfields or in the shadow of a coal-fired power
plant to be affected by this filthy industry. Coal causes acid rain,
pollutes our water and food chain with toxic mercury, destroys
communities, and is grossly accelerating climate change."
People living in the Potomac and Shenandoah watersheds are no strangers to the adverse affects of coal. Last year, Potomac Riverkeeper took action
against a fly ash facility that was discharging toxic pollution into
the largest hardwood swamp in Maryland, the Zekiah Swamp. The facility,
owned and operated by Mirant Mid-Atlantic, LLP, was discharging
selenium, cadmium and other toxic pollutants.
"The Zekiah Swamp has been described by the Smithsonian Institute as
one of the most important ecological areas on the East Coast, and yet
no one is protecting it" said Ed Merrifield, the Potomac Riverkeeper.
Within weeks, Maryland's Attorney General took action. He filed a complaint against Mirant and sought civil penalties of up to 126 million dollars as well as injunctive relief.
Another Mirant-owned plant, in Alexandria, VA, is contributing to our
mounting coal problem in a different way. The plant is linked to no
less than five mountain
top removal mines in Virginia and West Virginia. This information is
readily available to people living around the Potomac and Shenandoah
Rivers, as people living all over the country, by clicking here.
Waterkeeper programs in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, North Carolina,
Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, and West Virginia have been fighting the
coal industry for years. Now, Potomac Riverkeeper and Shenandoah
Riverkeeper have joined the struggle.
"Once they learn the facts," Kennedy said, "most Americans will demand
policies that protect our water and our health and promote an economy
built on cleaner, more sustainable energy sources." Information on the
campaign and a petition to sign are available here.
The campaign is reaching beyond the traditional environmental community
by using online viral marketing techniques, with the goal of
galvanizing broad popular interest via the web. The campaign's hub is a
website that will house video and editorial content and provide
visitors with interactive tools to become anti-coal activists.
Every year, U.S. coal-fired power plants release 48 tons of the
neurotoxin mercury into the environment, poisoning hundreds of square
miles of waterways. And mercury doesn't just poison ecosystems; it also
poisons pregnant women and their babies. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency estimates that one of every six women of childbearing
age now has unsafe mercury levels in her blood and, potentially, breast
milk, putting more than 410,000 American children born each year at
high risk for neurological damage and a grim inventory of illnesses.
And while coal-fired power plants generate about half of America's
electricity, they contribute 80 percent of the total greenhouse gases
that result from electricity production. Ocean-level rise and other
effects of global warming threaten barrier islands and coastal
ecosystems and other irreplaceable wild areas.
"We're fighting a powerful industry with deep pockets and an absolute
determination to win," Kennedy said, "but thanks to Waterkeeper
Alliance's thousands of dedicated local activists, the campaign's goal
is no less than to bring about a fundamental shift in national energy
Inc. is a 501 (c)(3) organization whose mission is to protect and
restore water quality in the Potomac River and its tributaries through
community action and enforcement. Executing this mission since its
formation in 2000, Potomac Riverkeeper is an effective advocate for
clean and safe water in the Potomac Watershed. The organization houses
the Potomac Riverkeeper and the Shenandoah Riverkeeper.
Waterkeeper Alliance is one of the world's fastest growing grassroots environmental organizations with nearly 200 Waterkeepers defending and advocating for rivers, lakes and other waterways on six continents.