Virginia’s David and Goliath; Dominion Coal Blockade Heads to Court

posted by scott parkin

Yesterday in Wise Virginia, the group who put their bodies on the line to stop the construction of Dominion’s newest coal-fired power plant on Sep. 15th appeared in court to agree to a plea agreement and read statements about their action.

They had been charged with four counts ranging from tresspass to unlawful assembly. Two other members of the blockade were charged with ten additional counts of inciting a riot. Eight of the eleven arrested were UNDER 25. (A week later, Al Gore called for more young people to commit acts of civil disobedience to stop coal plants.)

Communities and activists struggle against a multi-billion dollar industry funded by Wall Street and regulated by a complicit political system. Dominion has one of the most powerful lobbying machines in Virgina, spending over $1 million on local lobbying since 1993, and gave Gov. Tim Kaine more than $135K.

The supposedly “clean” $1.8 billion plant is expected to poison and pollute local groundwater, air and the Clinch River with various chemicals and by-products. 25% of Wise county has been strip-mined by mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal and the coal industry has not only declared war on Appalachia’s environment, but it’s people as well. Besides being an environmental sacrifice zone, Wise county and Appalachia is one of the poorest regions in the nation.

Here are some of the statements read to the court:

Kathryn Hilton, Aiken, S.C: “The mining of coal and its use in coal-fired power plants is not the answer to the energy issues facing people in Virginia or anywhere else. There are proven facts on the negative impacts from coal-fired power plants. From the mountaintop removal that occurs during excavation to the excess in mercury the plant releases during operation, coal is not an energy source that needs continuing.

Robin Markle,High Falls, NY: “Dominion’s actions are reprehensible, and I expect them to take responsibility for their actions as I take responsibility for my own. I went ahead with my actions knowing they were illegal because I am afraid for the future of our world,” Markle said. “I feel that I would be acting in a far more morally reprehensible manner were I not to take a stand at this time.

Kate Lally,Baltimore, Md: “The people of Wise County deserve clean water, the mountains they love and clean air to breathe. Investing in renewable energy would provide jobs and increase opportunities for a brighter Appalachia.

Groups of half dozen and a dozen (sometimes more, sometimes less) are putting their bodies on the line against coal plants, coal mines and coal financiers. Actions are happening all over against Dominion, Dynegy, Duke Energy, Citibank, Bank of America and many other coal and climate criminals.

A movement has emerged not led by parties, politicians or non-profits, but by America’s youth, frontline communities and concerned environmentalists everywhere. They are the TRUE Davids in this struggle against the Goliath of the coal industry.