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Climate Activists Arrested Demanding Shutdown Date for Merrimack Generating Station

Over 150 people gathered in Bow, 50 took to the river in boats and 18 were arrested building a garden at the Merrimack Generating Station.
WASHINGTON -

Over a hundred and fifty people descended on Bow on Sunday, October 3 to take direct action to shut down the Merrimack Generating Station - the last coal-fired power plant in New England. The Merrimack Generating Station is destroying the river, the land and the water and making the Bow community sick. It is contributing to the escalating climate crisis. The No Coal No Gas campaign is taking action to end the use of coal in Bow. The group gathered in the field across from the coal plant for a rally demanding a shutdown date for the coal plant. 

“There’s a boat ramp across the way [from the coal plant] with a sign that reads ‘Merrimack Station is pleased to share this boat ramp with the Bow community, please use this property safely and responsibly,’” recounts Mary Fite, resident of Bow. “When I first read this sign, I felt like crying. Is operating a coal-fired power plant on the banks of the Merrimack River safe? Is polluting our air, land, and water responsible?” 

After a rally across the street from the coal plant, the group broke into three groups - one went to the Merrimack River with kayaks, one marched down River Road chanting, and a third headed towards the entrance of Merrimack Station holding signs, plants, and gardening tools. No Coal No Gas activists blockaded the entrance to the coal plant and tore up the pavement to plant a garden in its place to begin to heal the polluted soil from toxic coal. 18 people were arrested. 

“The Merrimack Generating station only stays open because it receives millions of dollars in forward capacity payments - essentially fossil fuel subsidies” explains Rebecca Beaulieu, Communications Director with 350NH Action. “We must end this unjust system that pays polluters to destroy our environment. Our politicians and the plant owners think that they can ignore the problem and just let people in Bow keep getting sick. We are here to say enough is enough. If our elected leaders won’t end the use of destructive fossil fuels, then we will take matters into our own hands and keep coming back until we end the use of coal once and for all.” 

The No Coal No Gas campaign formed in 2019 with the goal of forcing the Merrimack Generating Station to shut down. Since then, the campaign has built a large community of supporters, taken direct action at the coal plant, blockaded six coal trains heading for Bow, and targeted ISO-New England, the regional grid operator responsible for the coal plant's subsidies.

At this event, No Coal No Gas activists started the process of remediating the land by planting native NH plants that will absorb toxins from the coal. 

“The owners of this plant, Granite Shore Power, which is owned by Atlas Holdings and Castleton Commodities, are getting rich, destroying lives and entire communities. But while they and the ISO do nothing to prevent the harm happening in Bow, we are ready to act. We are ready to decommission and dismantle this coal plant ourselves. And we will replace it with the seeds of a better future,” said Leif Taranta, Organizer with the Climate Disobedience Center. 

“What do I have to lose fighting for climate justice? Nothing. I have nothing to lose. My future and the future of the planet are on the line. If we are complicit in the climate crisis, my generation will have nothing left. I will fight with everything I have for a just transition to renewable energy in New England, the United States, and the world, and I hope you all will join me,” Said Kai Parlett, organizer with No Coal No Gas and freshman at UNH, in her speech at the rally. 

Millions of people and the planet continue to suffer from the effects of the climate crisis. We will keep fighting for a shut down date for the coal plant and for an end to fossil fuel use and expansion until we run the world on 100% renewable energy. Go to nocoalnogas.org or strikedowncoal.org for more information about the campaign.

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350 is building a future that's just, prosperous, equitable and safe from the effects of the climate crisis. We're an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.

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