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Protestors happy that US Energy Secretary came to Charlotte

Protestors opposed to new coal plants on hand for Secretary Chu's Charlotte visit. hspace=4

Coal-power plant protestors welcomed US Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu with open arms during his visit to Charlotte Wednesday. Chu was in town pushing the president's plan to expand hybrid and electric car production. WFAE's Simone Orendain has more: As protests go, this was not an angry message aimed at a government official. Instead, the five environmentalists used Secretary Steven Chu's visit to continue their ongoing protest of the expansion of Duke Energy's coal-fired plant in Cliffside. Outside the business park that hosted the secretary, the group held signs protesting coal and encouraged people to honk their horns. They also dropped off a letter politely asking for Chu's support. Carolinas Clean Air Coalition spokeswoman June Blotnik said, "Our idea was to welcome the secretary to Charlotte and to let him know we support his clean energy programs and we also agree with him that we don't need to build anymore coal plants." But during a sit-down interview, Chu didn't mention an end to building more coal plants. He simply noted there are a number of aging coal plants across the country. He said, "Those coal plants one can really think of phasing those out, they're near the end of their lifetime. And so one has a choice you can build new coal plants and other types of power plants to replace those. Certainly the Obama administration is strongly support the growth of renewable energy but that's going to take time, realistically." Chu says new coal plants need to have technology that would capture pollutants and lower emissions. This is included in plans for Duke Energy's Cliffside expansion. But the Cliffside protestors have been saying it's not enough. Duke Energy says the plant is more than halfway built. Still, environmentalists say they'll continue their efforts.