Choosing the target for power management of power of Congress in Washington DC, the demonstrators – about 1,000 people – were divided into four groups to block different inputs of the industrial site. The event, very well orchestrated and over 90 different associations, has led to any arrests. This event, unprecedented in American history, had three objectives: the continued use of coal as the main source of energy, get legislation on climate change (GHG reduction) and together the various environmental movements around ‘ joint action. Echoing the words of Al Gore literally “I do not understand why there are no rows of young people blocking bulldozers and preventing the construction of new coal-fired power plants” , several hundred demonstrators were gathered in the cold and snow to protest at the power plant, a symbol of U.S. energy policy.
Indeed, Al Gore, dubbed by the media “the Goracle of the environment” , called for civil disobedience as a means of action to increase the share of renewable energy and stop the use of cleaner energy such as coal. Many celebrities have also joined the event (the mayor of Salt Lake City Rocky Anderson, writers Wendell Berry and Vandana Shiva …), the main one being Dr. James Hansen (head of laboratory studies of space NASA Goddard Institute and professor at Columbia University), the first scientist to testify before Congress in 1988 of the risks of global warming.
Currently, coal is the source of half the electricity in the United States, renewable energy up to this point was not competitive with the coal industry. These arguments have been used by a small group of protesters against , from promoting the advantages of coal to the plant. However, recent events at the basin level storage coal updated the pollution involved in such an energy source . The public has become aware of the urgency of the situation, the coal is not only responsible for significant GHG emissions but also of substantial releases pollutants such as heavy metals (mercury, arsenic …).
The power of Congress, fueled by a mixture of coal, natural gas and oil will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. In charge of heating and cooling of federal buildings, the plant had already been the subject of several rehabilitation projects successively abandoned. As a result of the “Green the Capitol”, adopted by Congress in 2007 and aimed at integrating environmental practices within the headquarters of the legislative body of the United States, the engineers of the plant had studied the possibility of incorporate a path capture and storage of carbon dioxide at industrial site. The project had not succeeded because of the extent of work needed and costs involved.
However, this event has helped to revive the debate, the Congress with the release Thursday February 26 its desire to convert the plant to run on natural gas, fuel twice emitting less GHG. The decision, announced by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Harry Reid, Majority Leader of Senate Democrats, put an end to many discussions on the rehabilitation of the plant. Symbol of the will of the majority of the new Congress to work for environmental protection, this initiative will support the speech of President Barack Obama (24 February 2009) who wishes to establish a GHG emissions before the end of the year.