Boston, MA – Seven activists from Rising Tide Boston disrupted a lecture at Harvard University being delivered by Arch Coal CEO Steve Leer, who was speaking on the future of “clean coal” technology. The activists attempted to enlighten the coal baron and the lecture attendees on the true cost of coal extraction.
“Arch coal is participating in the destructive practice of mountaintop removal,” says Tyler Kinser, a member of Rising Tide Boston. “How can coal ever be clean when entire communities are being poisoned and displaced by coal extraction?”
“This Harvard lecture series is funded by Bank of America, the single largest financial sponsor of mountaintop removal,” said Kinser, “so it’s no surprise that Harvard is hosting this lecture of disinformation on coal. We decided to balance out the lies.” Bank of America has invested billions of dollars in Arch Coal, according to the website dirtymoney.org.
The guest lecture was received with criticism by the some of those in the packed lecture hall. In the end, every question asked sounded more like a critical comment. Activists from Rising Tide Boston ended up delivering the final word on the matter, with the question “What gives you the right to gamble the future of civilization on a magic technology that doesn’t exist?” As the Arch Coal CEO attempted to avoid the question, two members of Rising Tide walked on stage and unfurled a banner which read “The coal bubble is bursting – Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie,” before interrupting Leer’s mumbling and shouting a list of statements regarding Arch Coal’s “investments in every dirty energy practice in the country.” Activists also distributed literature to attendees as they entered the lecture hall.
Mountaintop removal is a notably devastating form of coal mining, in which entire mountains are leveled, valleys filled, and rivers buried. More than 470 mountains have been destroyed, and over 1200 miles of streams buried, according to the non-profit, Appalachian Voices. Coal extraction and processing has lead to the contamination of groundwater with heavy metals and other toxins, as documented by the non-profit.
“The idea of ‘clean coal’ is nothing more than a marketing term, a myth. It ignores the extraction side of coal’s death-cycle,” added Kinser. “Even if the technology to capture all emissions is perfected and implemented in time to avert climate catastrophe, we will still be sacrificing the people and ecosystems of Southern Appalachia for a few more years of fossil fuel energy.”
Today’s action comes on the heels of an act of civil disobedience carried out this morning at Coal River Mountain, West Virginia, where five activists were arrested after locking down to a bulldozer and backhoe, and more were arrested later that day for delivering a letter to CEO of Massey Energy. Coal River Mountain is slated for a 6,600-acre mountaintop removal site, but local residents have developed plans for a wind farm there instead.
< "People across the country are raising their voices and putting their bodies on the line," said Kinser. "We know that coal is over, and that truly clean and renewable energy is possible, if only those in power would wake up and stop destroying the planet for profit." Although the activists made the final argument, words spoken by Leer, of Arch Coal, seem to stand out. "Absolute power corrupts, but we need electricity." For updates, photos and video footage, visit http://risingtideboston.org