Charlotte, NC – At 12:30 today, two Warren Wilson College students dressed as polar bears were arrested while blockading the entrance to Duke Energy’s headquarters in downtown Charlotte. The students are demanding that the company stop its plans to build the new Cliffside coal-fired power plant, and are joined by concerned citizens dressed as Santa Claus and his Elves. “The bad kids get coal in their stockings, and we’re here to say that we don’t want any new coal,” said Keith Glendinning, a local resident. Santa’s Elves presented Duke with a Christmas wish list of clean air, sustainable energy, and energy efficiency initiatives.”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.”
Climate scientists around the world agree that immediate actions must be taken to reduce levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in order to stop the worst impacts of climate change. Duke’s new Cliffside plant alone would emit 312 million tons of carbon dioxide over its fifty year lifespan, the equivalent of putting an additional one million cars on the roads.
The Cliffside plant will also emit pollutants such as mercury, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Duke’s own calculations project a 10-fold increase in mercury emissions from the proposed plant over 2005 mercury emissions from the existing units. In addition, much of the coal burned at Cliffside would be extracted through the highly destructive practice of mountaintop removal. This practice has destroyed hundreds of square miles of the southern Appalachian Mountains and devastated thousands of miles of streams.
“North Carolina and Duke Energy need to follow the lead of other states such as Oklahoma and Florida that have said no to new coal plants. In order to avert catastrophic climate change our society must shift towards sustainable and socially responsible energy sources now. Coal is not a part of that equation,” said student activist Lindsay Popper.
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