The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kassie Siegel, (760) 366-2232 x302
Francisca Santana, (onsite in DC on Monday), (707) 338-5531

Center for Biological Diversity Supports Largest Day of Climate Action in US History

Scientists, Youth, and Citizens to Protest the Capitol Coal-Fired Power Plant


On Monday, March 2, the Center for Biological Diversity, along with more than 90 other organizations and individuals across the nation, will take part in the largest day of action on the climate crisis in U.S. history.

The Capitol Climate Action Coalition has announced that more than 2,500 people have registered to participate in the March 2 Capitol Power Plant protest in Washington, D.C., ensuring that the event will be the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience on global warming to date.

In addition, the protest coincides with Powershift 2009, a climate conference for youth and young professionals. On Monday, March 2nd, Powershift has planned for more than 10,000 youths to participate in a Lobby Day to call for swift action and climate legislation. The voices of concerned citizens and climate activists will be heard from the streets of Washington to the halls of the Capitol building.

"Monday's planned events demonstrate an unstoppable wave of support for immediate, science-based action on the climate crisis," said Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute. "The good news is that our existing environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act, with its four-decade track record of success at cleaning the air and saving lives and money, already provide the tools the Obama administration needs to regulate greenhouse emissions immediately. The Obama administration should begin greenhouse gas reductions under the Clean Air Act immediately, and Congress should pass new legislation that builds on this solid foundation."

Leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has warned that we need to reduce our atmospheric greenhouse gas levels to below 350 parts per million in order to avoid climate catastrophe, and that the U.S. and the world must begin phasing out coal immediately in order to reach that target. Already species from the polar bear in the Arctic to the emperor penguin in Antarctica to corals in the Caribbean are declining due to global warming. A stunning 70 percent of the Earth's plants and animals could be at risk of extinction by the end of the century if greenhouse emissions continue unabated.

The Capitol Power Plant, which is owned by Congress, burns coal to heat and cool numerous buildings on Capitol Hill, and has become a powerful symbol of coal's stranglehold on the environment and public health. The Capitol Power Plant is a relatively small plant, and yet still produces about 60,000 tons of CO2 per year, as well as 65 percent of the District of Columbia's deadly particulate pollution, and is also the second-largest fixed source of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide in the Capitol, according to Sourcewatch.

In attendance at Monday's protest, and willing to risk arrest, will be former coal miners, ministers, mothers, students, and climate activists from Arizona to Appalachia who have united to demand bold and far-reaching action on the climate and energy crises. Also attending will be leaders from the scientific and environmental community, such as Dr. James Hansen, Bill McKibben, Wendell Berry, Gus Speth, Vandana Shiva, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, as well as Grammy winner Kathy Mattea and actress Daryl Hannah.

The Center for Biological Diversity's Francisca Santana will be participating in Monday's events and available to take media calls on site.

In response to the planned protest at the Capitol Power Plant, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued a call on Thursday to retrofit the plant to run on 100-percent natural gas by the end of the year. "Taking [a] major step toward cleaning up the Capitol Power Plant's emissions would be an important demonstration of Congress' willingness to deal with the enormous challenges of global warming, energy independence and our inefficient use of finite fossil fuels," stated Pelosi and Reid.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

(520) 623-5252