Protests Come To Coal Country In Germany & Kentucky

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It’s a tough time to be in the coal business. With the cost of renewables and battery storage falling and more people realizing that coal power plants are the worst possible way to generate electricity if a climate catastrophe is to be avoided, protesters in the Mannheim region of Germany have blockaded the entrance to the Block 9 coal plant, which is said to be the dirtiest coal facility in all of Germany.

The Block 9 plant burns hard coal and went online in 2015. It cost $1.2 billion to build and has a capacity of 2150 megawatts. It is owned and operated by three of Germany’s largest utility companies — RWE, EnBW, and MVV. The activists say it is responsible for 8% of all emissions in the state of Baden-Würtenburg.

Activists from an alliance calling itself End Of Terrain blockaded the front gate of the plant on Saturday morning with the intention of delaying new supplies of coal from reaching the plant. A police spokesman told Süddeutche Zeitung, “Protesters are blocking the main access gate, and part of them are staying at the site of the power plant.” A plan to remove the protesters has not yet been agreed on by authorities.

The protesters say there are about 100 people on hand, with more on the way. The police put the number of protesters at between 40 and 50. Unlike in the United States, protesters in Germany are not subject to 40-year prison terms for daring to oppose the oligarchs. The Block 9 coal plant has enough coal on hand for about 10 hours of operation. After that it will be forced to shut down.

Generating stations typically have a 40-year service life, so Block 9 will continue to spew massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere until 2055 if it is not closed ahead of schedule. The protesters are severely critical of what they see as government policies that talk of reducing emissions but follow that talk up with far too little action.

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Things Are Not Good In Kentucky

Meanwhile in Kentucky, home to Mitch McConnell, who some consider the most despicable politician in the history of the United States, other protesters are blocking coal trains by standing on the tracks. They are not there because they are climate activists but because they are coal miners who woke up last Monday to find their most recent paychecks were no good after their employer, Blackjewel, unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy at the end of July.

McConnell was one of the loudest voices criticizing the Obama administration for its so-called “war on coal.” The putative president hopped on that bandwagon and promised miners, “The coal industry is back,” in 2018. Both men were lying through their teeth.

Blackjewel has made a business out of buying up bankrupt coal companies, so it could suck a little more life out of the labor of the miners. Now it too has fled the scene, protected by bankruptcy laws from paying those same miners for their efforts. The miners are none too pleased, as you might expect.

“We’re doing without money, food, and everything else before our kids are starting back to school. We can’t even get clothes or nothing else for them, so it was like a kick in the face,” miner Chris Rowe told CNN affiliate WYMT. “That’s basically what it was.”

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said he was monitoring the situation and that he fully backed the miners. “Blackjewel failed to pay them for weeks of hard work and the way the company filed for bankruptcy prevents miners from accessing their 401Ks, making it even harder for them to feed their families during this trying time. What this company is doing to them is wrong — and I am doing everything I can through my office to help these families. Every Kentuckian should see their plight and support them.”

Well, every Kentuckian with the exception of Mitch McConnell, who is very good at sucking up to miners but not so good when it comes to biting the hand that shovels trainloads of campaign donations his way.

Despicable Mitch has been having his own problems lately because he has bottled up legislation that would address Russia’s efforts to hijack the next election because the bill, in his opinion, would allow too many black and brown people to vote. For his actions, he has earned the sobriquet of Moscow Mitch, a label that fits better and better by the month.

Perhaps McConnell is nearing the end of the road in his Senate career once the good people of Kentucky realize Fat Mitch, who closely resembles the Pillsbury Doughboy, is lining his own pockets while ignoring them completely. The situation has gotten so bad, a balladeer by the name of Bruce W. Nelson has composed an insulting little ditty about Moscow Mitch that has already gotten over 57,000 views on YouTube.

Say goodbye, Mitch, and take your double-dipping spouse Elaine Chao with you. The environment would celebrate your departure.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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