Anti-Coal Activists Block Train Bound For Duke Plant
The big protests Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police prepared for at Duke Energy's annual meeting this morning never materialized. Police officers out-numbered the few dozens activists who showed up at Duke's headquarters. The real action happened at Duke's Marshall Steam Station in Mooresville. Just as the company's annual shareholder meeting got underway, four people affiliated with Greenpeace locked themselves to the tracks in front of a train full of coal bound for the Marshall Steam Station.Monica Embrey of Greenpeace said the activists were protesting Duke's use of coal mined from mountain tops. "Continuing to blow up mountains in states like West Virginia and Kentucky and bringing that coal here is simply unacceptable," said Embry.
Within a few hours the four protesters locked to the train tracks were arrested. Duke CEO Jim Rogers had a quick response to the stunt when word reached him inside the shareholder meeting. "If you block the generation of electricity from our coal plants (or) from our nuclear plants, you're gonna block the flow of electricity to our schools and to our hospitals and to people across our state that rely on it," said Rogers. "There's a more reasoned way to go about this."
Rogers says producing affordable, reliable, clean energy requires a mix of fuel sources - including mountaintop coal. Critics at Duke's annual meeting said the company should be more aggressive in pursuing renewable energy sources like wind and solar, rather than investing in coal and nuclear.
Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton designated the Duke shareholder meeting as an "Extraordinary Event" out of concern that protests could get out of hand. The designation allowed police to question and detain people within a 3-block perimeter if they were carrying backpacks or items that could cause harm if thrown. However, protesters and police said there were no problems.
The protesters and officers WFAE spoke to said they didn't know of anyone who had been stopped by police. Independent observers with the Charlotte School of Law also said they didn't notice any problems.