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Activists Target Wall Street 7 to Stop Funding Coal
by Christina Aanestad
Monday Apr 16th, 2007 12:55 PM
As part of the Step It Up 2007 day of climate action, activists from
the Rainforest Action Network in San Francisco staged a mock
Billionaires for Coal party at the main offices of Morgan Stanley
Freidman, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers urging the banks to invest
in renewable energy instead of new coal developments. Activists say
burning coal is a main contributor to carbon dioxide a leading cause of
global warming.
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Billionaires for Coal staged a cocktail coal party outside the main offices of major financiers in new coal developments with a message for the Wall Street. Bill Barkley is a campaign organizer with the Rainforest Action Network.

”These banks are financing the infrastructure that’s cooking our climate and killing our planet and this is no longer acceptable. There are over 150 new coal fired power plants that are on the books to be built and if these are built they will add over a half a billion tons of new emissions of carbon dioxide."

According to a report by the National Resource Defense Council, coal contributes 30% of US carbon dioxide emissions, the leading cause of global warming. But that doesn't matter much to the Wall Street 7 the major bankers that are investing in a majority of the 150 proposed coal power plants in the US. However, the coal industry and the Bush Administration say new technologies like coal gasification and the upcoming FutureGen power plant are more environmentally friendly. Tom Sarkus is the Department of Energy's Project Director of FutureGen.

"The plant is going to be based on a technology called Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle. It will achieve very low emissions of all criteria pollutants including mercury and additionally, it will capture and sequester geologically the carbon dioxide that is produced from the plant. Of course carbon dioxide emissions are known as being a greenhouse gas."

Sarkus says the liquid carbon dioxide could be injected into nearby salinated water sources but those are not used for drinking water. He adds that FutureGen is still a work in progress, although they expect to start approval of a site for the power plant in Texas or Illinois later this year. But environmentalists Barkley and Matt Leonard with the Rainforest Action Network say the whole process of extracting and using clean coal is a dirty deed.

”These are new technologies that haven't been developed yet. There's a bigger set of problems with coal, which is that you have to look at the entire life cycle of coal. The mining is also bad for the environment and for workers. In Meig's county Ohio there's a proposal for 9 power plants in a10-mile radius. This is a community that has already been ravaged by pollution and groundwater contamination. There's sky rocketing rates of asthma and lung cancer and other respiratory diseases. Closer to home in the southwest there's been a strong struggle from indigenous communities including the Navajo and Hopi fighting power plants that have contaminated groundwater and taken their water supply."

Coal isn't the only energy development on the rise that concerns environmentalists. After winning the battle to prevent 11 new coal plants in Texas, environmentalists are now grappling with the proposal of nuclear power reactors in the state. California lawmakers are also considering reviving nuclearpower, after a two-decade moratorium.

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