Friday, April 23, 2010

Town Hall Wrap Up!

It’s been an exciting week here at Earth Ministry as we’ve finished hosting our four Town Halls across the state. Our speakers, ranging from pastors to a state senator to union workers, all spoke urgently both about the need to shut down TransAlta’s Centralia coal plant, as well as the great benefits that await Washington in a renewable energy future.

Citizens from Seattle, Redmond, Bainbridge Island, and Vancouver all learned that the Centralia plant is the number one emitter in the state of carbon dioxide (CO2), mercury, and nitrogen oxide (NOx). We were encouraged and emboldened to imagine removing the greatest source of climate change pollution in our state by 2015.

It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s also within reach.

One of the great highlights of the week was being able to spend time with author Ted Nace, whose organization Coal Swarm helps keep track of the fight against coal across the nation. At all four of the town halls, Ted repeatedly asserted that the fight against TransAlta here in Washington is one of the most (if not the most, period) important fights in the entire nation.

Why? Because Washington has the best chance of becoming the first state to get rid of coal completely. If we can do it here, we can show other states that they can do it, too. Our partners, the Sierra Club, have already shut down 128 new coal plants, victories that Ted noted were among the greatest in the history of environmentalism. Now is the time to begin shutting down coal plants already in existence, and Centralia is the best candidate.

It's important to note that shutting down TransAlta’s Centralia plant also means providing a just transition for the workers at the plant. On Sunday and Wednesday, union leaders spoke about the real life stories of career creation thanks to renewable energy. In Vancouver, the representative from the longshoreman’s union told us that union membership has gone from 106 in 1995 to over 200 in 2008 thanks mainly to the import of wind turbines!

In other words, the pieces are all here: career creation, climate protection, and pollution prevention. It’s a win-win situation for the planet, for Washington, and for workers.

Keep checking back for more information! I’ll try to keep bringing updates to the campaign. In the meantime, please check out Coal Swarm’s website. You can find the page on Washington and coal here. Also, consider reading Ted Nace’s Climate Hope, which provides some great details about the fights across the country against coal. If you don't have time to read the book, check out this radio interview with Ted where he talks about his work.

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