Paxeducare’s Blog

Peaceful Protest-the Culture of Peace Infuses a Climate Change Action
July 29, 2013, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yesterday my husband, Bill Upholt, and I participated in a climate change march and rally in Somerset, MA, near Providence, home site of the Brayton Point power plant, the largest coal fired plant in New England. The event was organized by, MA Brayton Point has the dubious distinction of being the largest single source of carbon pollution in the region,  consisting of 3 coal fired units. The plant also uses natural gas and oil to fuel the energy needs of over one million customers. Nearly 200 are employed there. Recent attempts at climate mitigation by the plant include installing 2 large water cooling units to reduce egregious pollution to the surrounding area.

Though the plant is a source of jobs for locals, health issues have plagued the community for the last 50 years, while hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 have been emitted in the lifetime of the plant, contributing greatly to greenhouse gas emissions. The aim of the event was to make demands of Governor Duval Patrick, under his authority with Massachusett’s Global Warming Solutions Act, to shut down the plant and move toward a rapid transition to green jobs and renewable sources of energy. Some locals have supported the action. Others not.

One of the speakers was Peter Knowlton, President of the regional United Electrical Workers Union. We were reminded that there are possibilities for transition to just and equitable, fairly paid jobs, transitioning from  reliance on fossil fuels to greener and renewable sources of energy. We also heard movingly from two speakers from West Virginia, site of horrific mountaintop removal for coal, which coal extracted finds its way into New England power plants. Both speakers had been steeped in the tradition of coal mining, speaking proudly of their tradition and poignantly of what they have lost and are losing, not only physically (literally the mountains but the beauty associated with the the ecology there) but also of the many illnesses plaguing current and former miners.

What most impressed me, as a veteran of many years of protests, rallies and, of late, more strident action on my part around climate change, was the ethos of positivism that surrounded this action. None of the invectives that have so often infused protests….name calling, inflammatory language and put downs. Careful and respectful dialoguing with the police had occurred. All who were arrested attended mandatory nonviolence training the day before. This was a call to action, done in the spirit of nonviolence, out of the love and concern we all have for our Earth. There were no human “enemies” here, only a spiritual call to transformation, to humility,  knowing that each of us, in our own way, is a contributor to this challenge as we are steeped in the human addition to fossil fuels.
44 people were arrested.  Bill and I chose not to be among them but the crowd estimated at 350-400 warmly applauded those as they crossed the “yellow line” marking the entrance to “no man’s land” on the plant property. Prior to the arrests, several of the “red shirts”, as those choosing arrest were called, had erected several small symbolic windmills along our route of the march, a vivid reminder that alternative technologies are out there…we need the will to develop and use them much more prevalently.

More on the event can be found at the following news sources.–Power-Plant-Protest/

Mary Lee Morrison



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