Hello youth climate activists!
Earlier this week Dr. James Hansen, the well known, outspoken member of the not so youthful movement for climate action, coming off of an informative and inspiring, if less than exciting, appearance at Virginia PowerShift, wrote the following essay in defense of the brave Wise 11. These young folk stood with community activists from Southwest Virginia against the destruction of more mountains in Southern Appalachia, and against global climate chaos by locking themselves to the gates of Dominion Power’s planned power plant in St. Paul Va.
Like he did with the 6 Greenpeace activists in the UK recently, Dr. Hansen defended the actions of Rainforest Action Network, Blue Ridge Earth First!, Mountain Justice and sds as necessary steps to protect the global good, to halt climate and ecological degradation before it leaves an inhospitable planet. Maybe soon we will see Dr. Hansen out there with Al Gore?
Obstruction of Justice
“You’re Hannah, right?” Hannah Morgan, a 20-year old from Appalachia, Virginia, was one of 11 protesters in handcuffs early Monday morning September 15 at the construction site for a coal-fired power plant being built in Wise County Virginia by Dominion Power. The handcuffs were applied by the police, but the questioner, it turns out, was from Dominion Power.
“Mumble, mumble, mumble”, the discussion between police and the Dominion man were too far away to be heard by the young people. But it almost seemed that the police were working for Dominion. Maybe that’s the way it works in a company town. Or should we say company state? Virginia has got one of the most green-washed coal-blackened governors in the nation ( http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/20080529_DearGovernorGreenwash.pdf ).
It seems Hannah had been pegged by Dominion as a “ringleader”. She had participated for two years in public meetings and demonstrations against the plan for mountaintop removal, strip mining and coal burning, and she had rejected their attempts to either intimidate or bargain.
“Bargain?” What bargain is possible when Dominion is guaranteed 14% return on their costs, whether the coal plant’s power is needed or not. Utility customers have to cough this up, and they aren’t given any choice. The meetings and demonstrations were peaceful. Forty-five thousand signatures against the plant were collected. But money seems to talk louder.
Dominion’s “mumble, mumble” must have been convincing. Hannah and Kate Rooth were charged with 10 more crimes than the other 10 defendants. Their charges included “encouraging or soliciting” others to participate in the action and were topped by “obstruction of justice”. Penalty if convicted: up to 14 years in prison. [Why does this remind me of Jim Jobe in “Grapes of Wrath”?]
“Obstruction of justice??” My first thought was that this case might help draw attention to the inter-generational injustice and inequity of continued building of coal-fired power plants. Is the Orwellian double-speak in the charge of “obstruction of justice” not apparent?