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July 15, 2009

Colorado Beyond Coal Organizers Pack a Hearing

CO Coal Rally
Rallying for clean energy in Boulder on Tuesday.

Our own Sierra Club Regional Representative Roger Singer is reporting that a rally and hearing about a coal-fired power plant in Boulder, Colorado, went very successfully yesterday. Singer, the Rocky Mountain (Colorado) chapter, and several partner groups helped get more than 200 people to attend the rally and hearing to speak out against the Xcel Energy Valmont coal plant. Singer said the clean energy organizers have targeted this plant for retirement/conversion to renewable energy.

CO Coal Rally Roger Singer
Roger Singer speaks at the pre-hearing rally.

"At the rally, held at a public square right in front of the hearing site on a warm and sunny late afternoon, we entertained the audience with a live jazz band as we built the crowd, then motivated the troops with a combination of motivational speakers (myself included) and little theater skits and songs about the coal plight," said Singer. "One of the more significant moments was when Boulder County Commissioner Will Toor was on stage and described both the Valmont and Cherokee coal plants as 'perfect targets for shutting down or converting to a renewable resource.'"

CO Coal rally sign-up
Getting folks to sign a petition at the rally.

Singer said once in the hearing, the crowd filled the meeting room and spilled out into the hallway. There the Air Quality Control Commission heard more than four hours of testimony about the plant (the hearing was about the plant's renewal of an air pollution permit). The Sierra Club was one of the three groups that formally requested and received the hearing.

CO Coal Hearing
Anne Butterfield testifies for clean energy at the hearing.

The rally and hearing received great media coverage, and Singer credits the big turnout to an extensive outreach campaign using emails, snail mail, putting up fliers and handing out pamphlets. News articles can be seen here and here, and more hits are expected from local TV and radio stations.

CO Coal Hearing sign-up
A clean energy advocate signs up to testify. And yes, those are pieces of coal on the sign-up table.

"This was definitely a big team effort," explained Singer. "We worked with students from Colorado University and Colorado College, our local Beyond Coal community activists, as well as hard working partners at Clean Energy Action, WildEarth Guardians, Rainforest Action Network, Natural Capitalism Solutions, Boulder Climate Action Network and Greenpeace. Everybody had a hand in planning, recruitment, testimony and logistics."

CO Coal Rally Banner
One of many banners from the rally.

Singer called the entire day "a successful coalition effort to demonstrate the growing demand here in Colorado to Move Beyond Coal with visible public support shown to the media and to key decision makers."

Congratulations to our Colorado clean energy organizers!

All photos by Sierra Club Volunteer Doug Grinbergs. You can see more of his excellent photos of the rally in this Flickr set, and more of his excellent hearing photos in this Flickr set.


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