Rally Against Coal Corporation in Holyoke

In Holyoke, about two dozen activists attended a rally to close a coal power plant in the city August 15. “Coal smokestacks mean pollution for our children and our seniors,” said Carmen Concepcion, a retired nurse, at the rally. Also at the rally, Virgenmina Perez said, "My grandson suffers from asthma, and it was for him and all the other children that I joined this
campaign to retire the coal plant."

Activist Jose Bou said, "How can we have a healthy economy if we don't have healthy children, seniors and families?

Toxics Action Center community organizer Taryn Hallweaver (shown in the below photo speaking at the rally) said, “For far too long, Mt. Tom has polluted the air in Holyoke and surrounding towns. For too long, children in Holyoke have suffered from asthma at double the rate of the rest of Massachusetts.”

The coal plant is owned by GDF-Suez Corporation of France.

“Reports from the plant say it operated for less than 100 hours last year,” Toxics Action Center director Sylvia Broude told the Valley Post in a telephone interview. “We are close to victory.”

The owner of the plant announced last year that it would lay off about half the 51 workers at the plant. The Blue Green Alliance is working to create jobs for the laid off coal workers in fields including solar power, energy efficiency, and building and operating trains to move people and freight. The Alliance employs dozens of workers and has a web site at www.BlueGreenAlliance.org

The Holyoke plant can burn 1,200 tons of coal in a single day. In mountaintop removal coal mining, a coal company blasts apart the tops of mountains. According to the Sierra Club, coal mining has “damaged or destroyed approximately 1,200 miles of streams, disrupted drinking water supplies, flooded communities, damaged homes, eliminated forests, and jeopardizes tourism and recreation.” Burning coal causes lung cancer, heart attacks, mental retardation, global warming, and acid rain.

Coal power plants cost farmers about $500 million in reduced crop production in the U.S. every year, according to this web page:


One in six women of childbearing age in the U.S. has mercury levels in her blood high enough to put her baby at risk, according to the page. According to the Sierra Club, the coal industry is lying when it says “clean coal” or “liquid coal” are good for the environment.

Coal power can be replaced by energy efficiency programs, and solar, wind, water and wood power.

More information is at www.ToxicsAction.org. Photo by Toxics Action Center.


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