EARTH FIRST! BLOCKADES DOMINION HEADQUARTERS IN RICHMOND IN PROTEST TO COAL PLANT: YOUTH FROM WISE CO. TO NORTHERN VIRGINIA OPPOSE DOMINION’S DIRTY ENERGY PLANS
Richmond – At 7:55am this morning, activists with Blue Ridge Earth First! established a blockade at the entrance to Dominion Power’s James River headquarters, (120 Tredegar St.). Three youth activists locked themselves to one another, blocking both lanes of the only road in and out of the office complex for close to an hour. Supporters stood-by holding signs and banners demanding No Coal for Virginia. This action is the latest in a growing campaign challenging Dominion’s proposed coal-fired power plant in Wise County, VA.
The youth activists maintained the blockade for approximately an hour. Traffic was congested into the office building several hundred yards, spanning from Tredegar Street all the way through Cary Street. The police arrived on scene within twenty minutes. After 45 minutes, the police dragged the three locked down to the side of the road. The group remained there for 20 minutes afterwards. Supporters waved banners and signs, while the blockade was preserved. The three activists locked down were released within an hour after the start of the action.
Since Dominion announced its plans for the plant in 2006, protests, petitions, public comments, and other displays of opposition have poured out from communities across the state. If built, the power plant would release 5.4 million tons of CO2 annually, making it one of the biggest polluters in the state. The plant would also emit other greenhouse gases, 49 pounds of mercury, and other dangerous pollutants into our air and water. Furthermore, the plant would accelerate the rate of mountaintop removal mining in Virginia. Mountaintop removal has already destroyed 25% of Wise County’s Mountains, and threatens the lives of all Appalachians.
Government officials have received almost 3.8 million dollars in campaign contributions from Dominion in just over a decade. This collaborative relationship has left many Virginians feeling misrepresented by their elected officials. “We’ve voiced our objections in large numbers and continue to exhaust regulatory processes. Dominion and our Virginia legislators are still pushing dirty coal down our throats. It’s clear that if this thing is going to be stopped, we the people are going to have to stop it,” said Hannah Morgan, a former Wise County resident and current landowner who was locked down in the blockade.
Participants traveled from all corners of the state for this action. They represent the youth voice opposed to Dominion’s coal-fired power plant. “Climate change is jeopardizing my future and I’m not going to just sit by and let Dominion lock us into another generation of dirty coal,” added Barbie Spitz, a student who participated in the roadblock. The youth movement has been gaining momentum around this campaign, demanding Dominion and Virginia politicians implement clean, renewable energy in place of dirty coal. This action comes in accordance with several previous others from around the region.
Blue Ridge Earth First! (BREF!) maintains that the climate initiatives being presented by corporations and government have been focused on promoting consumption-based, profit-driven “solutions” that only serve to maintain business as usual. “There’s no such thing as clean coal. It’s time our entire energy paradigm shift away from all dirty sources, including nuclear, which creates a permanent supply of hazardous waste. We need to move towards efficiency, conservation, and the decentralized generation of safe sources such as wind and solar,” said Willie Dodson, an Earth First! activist from Blacksburg.