Environmental Groups to Disrupt Power Plant on March 2

Posted February 3, 2009 at 11:08am

A coalition of 40 environmental groups — including Greenpeace — announced Tuesday plans to disrupt the operations of the Capitol Power Plant on March 2.

The coalition, called Capitol Climate Action, sees the power plant as a symbol of the “stranglehold” coal has over the government, according to a press release and the Web site capitolclimateaction.com.

“It’s not the largest or the dirtiest power plant in the country, but as the plant that is actually run by and for Congress it serves as an incredibly iconic symbol of what is wrong with our country’s energy and climate policy,” the Web site states.

The Capitol Power Plant heats and cools the Capitol and Congressional buildings, while Pepco provides the electricity.

Already, the House has switched over a portion of the power plant to natural gas as part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) Green the Capitol campaign.

But phasing out coal entirely is more difficult — acting Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers told Members in June that the plant’s natural gas capacity is almost maxed out. He recommended spending $7 million to expand that capacity and $200 million in improvements to make the plant the most cost-effective it could be.

But the coalition claims that power plant modernization is held back by Members from coal-heavy states, such as Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The effort has the endorsement of several well-known activists, including Noam Chomsky, and many local and federal environmental groups. The coalition claims that more than 1,000 people have signed up for the day of “civil disobedience.”