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June 19, 2008

Getting Wiser About Coal, One Foot at a Time

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Last month, citizens from across Virginia presented a mile-long petition containing nearly 45,000 names to Dominion headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. Dominion is one of the largest producers and transporters of energy in the United States, with a portfolio of 26,500 megawatts of generation serving 11 states. The petition called for Dominion to stop its building of coal fired power plants and instead to focus its resources on developing clean energy that would bring energy efficiency, conservation, renewable energy, and economic prosperity.

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The petition was in response to Dominion's current plan to build a coal fired power plant in Wise County, Virginia. One Wise County native, Kathy Selvage, was the first to sign the petition and helped develop the Wise County-based Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards into a well-known grassroots group that leads the struggle to oppose strip mining and mountaintop removal mining for coal resources in Virginia. Selvage currently serves as the Vice President of the Wise county based SAMS. Joining Selvage in presenting the mile-long petition on May 8th, 2008 were SAMS President and co-founder Pete Ramey as well as Larry Bush, the Chairman and another co-founder of SAMS. "The leadership provided by grassroots leaders like Kathy, Larry, and Pete has inspired support and participation from others throughout the state," said Bill McCabe, Central Appalachian Environmental Justice organizer. Over 200 other concerned citizens of Virginia as part of the Wise Energy for Virginia coalition were there to support these three as they submitted the mile-long petition (in front of dozens of police officers) to representatives from Dominion, who then carted the three boxes filled with the petition into the Dominion headquarters building. 

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Several organizations support SAMS important work in the coalfields. "There is a broad coalition of organizations that are involved that appreciate the environmental justice implications of mountaintop removal mining and of new coal plants," said Glen Besa, Director of the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club. These partners include the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Appalachian Voices, and the Sierra Club, with the Southern Environmental Law Center providing legal support.  Besa continued, "We've all come together to stop this power plant and to get a mile's worth of petitions." McCabe added, "It's a great example of people who are affected by the different stages of the dirty coal cycle becoming one voice to stop the destruction of the health and environment of Virginia." Now, it is up to Dominion and the Virginia government to ensure that the chant for "no more coal!" will be realized.

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Watch this video to witness the presentation of the mile-long petition.
For instructions on how to install a Mile-Long Petition Meter on a website click this link.

"The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual." -John Muir

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