Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Activists shut down power plant construction site, 27 Arrested



Early Monday morning dozens of concerned community members from Palm Beach County and all over the nation put their bodies on the line to halt construction of FPL's West County Energy Center (WCEC), demanding energy efficiency, truly clean, renewable energy and a moratorium on development in south Florida. Everglades Earth First! blocked the main entrance to the WCEC site, a proposed massive 3800 MW gas-fired power plant that would emit 12 million tons of CO2, a leading greenhouse gas, every year. The plant is currently under construction despite ongoing legal challenges to the plant's needed permits and certification, which have been spearheaded by the local Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition.

A dozen activists locked themselves together through metal pipes as 200 supporters rallied around them. The blockade stopped work on the construction site for six hours before a total of 26 people were arrested.

This confrontational action was taken to protect the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge which sits 1000 ft from the power plant site and to protect the larger Everglades system. Restoration would be undermined by new development that the power plant is expected to encourage in the area. The civil disobedience action also aims to protect the entire planet from the destructive effects of climate change caused by power plant emissions.

"We just don't need this plant," said Lynne Purvis, an activist with Everglades Earth First! who was born and raised in the Loxahatchee area. "I'm not willing to threaten the integrity of the Loxahatchee, one of the last large, intact pieces of northern Everglades, so that people can fuel their greedy energy desires." Purvis says that the Everglades Earth First! group intends to continue a sustained campaign of direct action against this power plant and its adjacent gas pipeline.

The protest was also attended by grassroots activists and group across the United States who have been participating in the annual Earth First! Winter Rendezvous. One such group, Rising Tide North America, is part of an international movement for climate justice, which connects the social and environmental issues related to the growing climate crisis and calls for urgent and bold responses to the global human-caused dilemma.

Brian Sloan, an organizer with Rising Tide North America and participant in Monday morning's protest, said "FPL is doing what we call 'green-washing'. Gas-fired power is not a clean or sustainable energy. It is a dirty and dwindling fossil fuel." Sloan also states that Rising Tide does not trust energy companies to solve the climate crisis. "The solutions to climate change will never come from the people who created the problem."

Earth First! and the Rising Tide movements recognize that the fight against fossil fuel power is being used by the energy industry to push a new wave of nuclear energy. These grassroots groups are committed to extending their fight against the dangers of nuclear power with an eye on other FPL proposals, such as Turkey Point and St. Lucie.

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