Earth First! Blockades Florida’s Dirtiest Power Plant on the Heels of Romney's RNC Acceptance Speech
APOLLO BEACH, FL - In the climax of the 2012 Republican National Convention, protestors with Earth First! on Thursday blocked access roads to TECO’s Big Bend coal plant on the eastern shore of Tampa Bay. The environmental action group is citing corporate influence in politics and ecological impacts of fossil fuel dependency as reasons for the disruption.
This year’s RNC was funded by an estimated $55 million in corporate pay-offs, with corporations including the Tampa based-TECO Energy, along with Chevron, Duke Energy and Exxon Mobil.
According to a report by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last year, Florida is among the dirtiest states in power plant pollution. NRDC found TECO’s Big Bend plant to be in the state's, “top three most polluting smoke stacks.”
Earth First! activists chose their protest in order to highlight Mitt Romney's plan to expand what the group calls the “energy empire” which favors the interest of big donors in oil, gas and coal industries.
Romney’s top energy policy advisor is the wealthiest oilman in the country and according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics, Romney has already raised more from mining interests than Bush or McCain raised from these industries in their entire campaigns.
Locally, TECO's Big Bend plant has a long history of pollution. Along with being declared Florida's number one dirtiest power plant by Florida Consumer Action Network, they were also documented discharging waste into Cobia Bay in Apollo Beach in years past.
But that's not all. TECO has been called one of the nation's worst offenders when it comes to mountaintop removal coal mining. In coal mining regions of the Appalachian Mountains, TECO has ruined entire communities to maximize their profits. Kentucky coalfield resident Doug Justice worked in the coal mines for 22 years and said “I have never seen an outfit treat a community the way TECO Coal has done us.”
In response to the devastation from floods caused be TECO's mining in 2002, Granville Burke of Letcher County, Kentucky, had this to say: “I wish TECO had never started mining above our home. Protection for families like ours is supposed to come from the state and federal regulatory agencies, but instead they look the other way as coal companies destroy entire communities for the sake of profit.”
“Dirty energy becomes dirty politics. We can't afford to stand by and watch it anymore. We have to fight back.” Said Rachel Kijewski, an organizer with the Earth First! movement in Florida.