Nov. 15 Charlotte, NC In what appears to be a recurring phenomenon in North Carolina, angry polar bears have once again descended on a notorious climate criminal to disrupt their business. On Nov. 15th‚ members of Asheville Rising Tide and local college students descended on Duke Energy headquarters in Charlotte, NC with signs reading “Coal fuels climate change” and “Got Mercury?” to demand they cancel their plans for the 800mw Cliffside coal plant.
Despite police and security guards already on the scene two students dressed as polar bears locked the main entrance to the headquarters shut with a bike lock. Unfortunately a police officer managed to intervene before the pair were able to lock themselves to the door. Once the cop managed to wrestle the locks from the polar bears, the two proceeded to plan B and commenced in a sit-in in front of the doors. Eventually more police arrived and the students were arrested, but the lock remained, blocking the return of hundreds of Duke employees from their lunch break.
“North Carolina’s youth will be living with the impact of dirty energy and climate change far into the future. We need community-based alternatives to the fossil fuel empire.” said Nina Otter, a student at Warren Wilson College who locked herself to the entrance. “Coal has got to go if we want to solve the climate crisis.” The Cliffside coal power plant would emit 312 million tons of carbon dioxide over its 50 year lifespan at time when we need to be making massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Building new coal plants in the face of our climate crisis is tantamount to suicide.
In addition to escalating climate change, the addition of the 800 mw unit to Cliffside would more than double the amount of the amount of mercury released by the plant to 405 lbs. Water is also a major issue. The entire southeast is in the grips of one of the worst droughts ever recorded, with North Carolina hit particularly hard.. All indications point to climate change as a major culprit of this drought. The Cliffside plant would evaporate 21 million gallons of river water every day if built, while major cities such as Atlanta are on the brink of running dry.
We also seek to expose Duke CEO Jim Rogers for the greenwashing liar that he is. Rogers currently enjoys a certain amount prestige as a “green CEO”for his recent push for regulations of greenhouse gas emissions through the US Climate Action Partnership (US CAPS). When taken at face value this seems like an extraordinary thing for a CEO of a major polluter to do. However it has become apparent that the main role of US CAPS is to push for extremely weak climate legislation in order to preempt any meaningful changes that might be made to fight climate change. This of course becomes increasingly apparent when Rogers is pushing for toothless legislation while at the same time pushing to build a fleet of new coal power plants including Cliffside.
Asheville Rising Tide and people across North Carolina are dedicated to stopping the Cliffside plant dead in its tracks with public outreach and hard hitting actions.Ã‚ This is just the beginning.