image: the Capitol Power Plant to the right (behind road signs), not far from Capitol Hill
A national coalition of more than 40 environmental, public health, labor, social justice and other advocacy groups today announce plans to engage in civil disobedience at the Capitol Power Plant in Washington D.C. on the afternoon of March 2, 2009. The Capitol Climate Action (CCA), the largest mass mobilization on global warming in the country’s history (according to Greenpeace USA), reflects the growing public demand for bold action to address the climate and energy crises.
If you are nearby and want to join in the protest see Capitol Climate Action, March 2nd.
The Capitol Power Plant, which is owned by Congress and sits just blocks from the American seat of power, burns coal to heat and cool numerous buildings on Capitol Hill. The facility no longer generates electricity but its reliance on coal has made it the focus of political controversy and a powerful symbol of coal’s stranglehold impact on the environment and public health.
In response to public pressure, the House of Representatives converted half of the plant’s fuel to cleaner natural gas. But attempts to remove coal from the fuel mix entirely have been blocked by powerful coal-state Senators Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Wind power jobs overtake coal industry
A recent University of Massachusetts study found investing in clean energy projects like wind power and mass transit creates three to four times more jobs than the same expenditure on the coal industry. The wind power sector has grown to employ more Americans than coal mining as demand for clean energy has jumped over the past decade. See CNN article.
The big spike in wind jobs was a result of a record-setting 50% increase in installed wind capacity, with 8,358 megawatts coming online in 2008 (enough to power some 2 million homes). That’s a third of the nation’s total 25,170 megawatts of wind power generation. Another sign that wind power is no longer a niche green energy play: Wind accounted for 42% of all new electricity generation installed last year in the U.S.
Texas continues to lead the country, with 7,116 megawatts of wind capacity but Iowa in 2008 overtook California for the No. 2 spot, with 2,790 megawatts of wind generation. Other new wind powers include Oregon, Minnesota, Colorado and Washington state.
The U.S. wind industry is dominated by European wind developers and turbine makers – General Electric (GE) and Clipper are the only two domestic turbine manufacturers. European companies have been moving production close to their customers – the percentage of domestically manufactured wind turbine components rose from 30% to 50% between 2005 and 2008, according to the American Wind Energy Association.