Nearly 70 climate activists were arrested in New Hampshire on Saturday after hundreds of people descended on a coal-fired power plant—part of a series of coordinated global actions over recent weeks aimed at spotlighting the urgent threat of global warming while demanding a rapid and just transition to a cleaner and more sustainable energy system.
"It's our job to say no to coal and other unsustainable energy sources. If we don't stand up, put our bodies in the way of them destroying our ability to live on this earth, who will?" —Barbara Peterson, Nonviolent Citizen Action
The direct action at the Merrimack Station power plant—the largest plant of its kind in New England—was organized by a coalition of groups from throughout the region, including 350 New Hampshire, Nonviolent Citizen Action, New Hampshire Youth Movement, and Climate Disobedience.
Those who risked arrest attempted to enter the plant via a set of train tracks and carried buckets with them in order to—at least symbolically—remove as much coal from the site as possible.
Beautiful procession along the tracks that supply coal to the Merrimack Station. Time to #shutitdown, and take the coal out #bucketbybucket if we have too. #coalisstupid SOO MUCH LOVE!! #closebow #endcoal @ClimateDisobey @350NH_ACTION pic.twitter.com/uyHrUGJgfZ— Jay O'Hara (@oharjo) September 28, 2019
The #NoCoalNoGas action today in NH as part of the #ClimateStrike Week of Action is *amazing*.— Collin Rees (@collinrees) September 28, 2019
Dozens are risking arrest by marching directly into New England’s last major coal plant.
They’re ready to remove the coal #BucketByBucket, if that’s what it takes to shut it down. pic.twitter.com/2O1tIGrH0u
"The fossil fuel industry doesn't care about clean air, water, and soil," said Barbara Peterson, a protest organizer and member of Nonviolent Citizen Action, in a statement. "Their priority is profit. It's our job to say no to coal and other unsustainable energy sources. If we don't stand up, put our bodies in the way of them destroying our ability to live on this earth, who will?"
Sixty-seven activists were arrested Saturday for trespassing at Merrimack Station coal-burning power plant in Bow, in what organizers said was the largest environmental civil disobedience action since the Clamshell Alliance protests of the 1970s.https://t.co/jRZFvp6kPa pic.twitter.com/YE840rd4eK— UnionLeader.com (@UnionLeader) September 29, 2019
Lila Kohrman-Glaser, an organizer with 350NH Action, explained that the Merrimack Plant, while located in the town of Bow, New Hampshire, represents economic and environmental threats both locally and far beyond.
"Last year," Kohrman-Glaser said, "ratepayers paid $50 million just to keep this plant open even though it provides only about 1% of our electricity. The out-of-state owners are getting rich off of the destruction of our climate and environment and our elected officials have done nothing to stop them. We won't stand for decision makers' corruption and collusion with the fossil fuel industry anymore."
So people by the hundreds are peacefully shutting down one of New England's last coal-fired power plants today. Bucket by bucket they're removing the coal before its carbon can be added to the atmosphere. https://t.co/CDCgcPAuPg— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) September 28, 2019
According to the local Union Leader newspaper:
The group had been planning the action for weeks, and the arrests were not unexpected.
They chose the Bow plant on the Merrimack River because it has two coal-fired steam units, along with two kerosene-powered turbine units. The coal-fired units "serve as seasonal and peak demand resources," according to the website for Granite Shore Power, which purchased the plant from Eversource in early 2018 as part of the state's deregulation of the electric market.
Emma Schoenberg, of the Climate Disobedience Center, explained that people are increasinly taking matters into their own hands when it comes to the dirty and polluting fossil fuel industry because they are simply sick and tired of watching people in positions of power fail to act. With the climate emergency such a clear threat both locally and globally, Schoenberg said nonviolent civil disobedience like that action on Saturday is wholly justified.
"The coal industry and the larger fossil fuel industry have been reaping profits by stealing from our future for generations," she said. "Any nonviolent act that prevents fossil fuels from being burned is an act of reclaiming a small piece of the future that is being stolen from us."