James Hansen arrested in anti-coal protest

June 27, 2009 at 7:56 am Leave a comment

NASA climate scientist James Hansen was among the 29 people arrested for trespass at an anti-coal mining protest in Raleigh County, West Virginia on June 23.

The protesters called on the Obama administration to ban the highly destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining a coal-mining technique where mountain peaks are demolished with explosives.

US environmental journalist John McQuaid estimates mountaintop removal mining has damaged more than 1 million acres of forest and ruined countless streams in the Appalachian mountains over the past 20 years.

The protesters were charged with blocking traffic outside property belonging to coal giant Massey Energy. Others arrested included actor Daryl Hannah, executive director of the US Rainforest Action Network Michael Brune and former congressperson Ken Hechler.

The Environmental News Service reported that Hansen told protesters: “I am not a politician; I am a scientist and a citizen. Politicians may have to advocate for halfway measures if they choose. But it is our responsibility to make sure our representatives feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not what is politically expedient. Mountaintop removal, providing only a small fraction of our energy, should be abolished.”

The climate activists point to recent studies assessing the Appalachians as a prime area for commercial-scale wind farms. Wind power could produce more energy and create many more sustainable jobs to the area but only if mountain peaks are not exploded by the coal companies.

Hansen, regarded as one the world’s top climate scientists, argues that coal-fired power and coal mining must be phased-out as rapidly as possible to avert runaway climate change.

In a June 22 opinion piece in Yale Environment 360 he called for Obama to act. “We must make clear to Congress, to the Environmental Protection Agency, and to the Obama administration that we the people want mountaintop removal abolished and we want a move toward a rapid phase-out of coal emissions now. The time for half measures and caving in to polluting industries is over. It is time for citizens to demand yes, we can.”

Below Hansen explains why he opposes mountaintop removal coal mining.

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Entry filed under: Climate protest, Coal, James Hansen, mountaintop removal.

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