Tired of Inaction: Climate Activists Descend on Coal Plant in Bow, NH

BOW, NEW HAMPSHIRE — The Merrimack Generating Station has polluted the air, water, and climate in New Hampshire for decades while the plant’s out-of-state owners benefit from millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to keep the plant running. As a part of the week of Climate Action happening around the globe, hundreds of activists from New Hampshire are taking matters into their own hands in an effort to stop the climate crisis and force a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. The Climate Disobedience Center and 350NH Action are two members of the No Coal No Gas coalition who planned this rally and action. 

Over 60 individuals participating in nonviolent direct action walked into the plant through the train tracks. There was a large police presence at the plant and on the surrounding roads. As soon as they crossed the barricade into the plant property, half the group was arrested. Not long after, police wearing what appeared to be riot gear descended on the group and arrested the rest of them. They were taken out of the plant in four County Sheriff vans and a school bus and escorted to Merrimack County Jail. The latest count was 67 individuals arrested.

While those individuals were being arrested, a rally of over 300 people sang, chanted, and cheered on the action takers from a nearby baseball field. Various speakers and musicians participated, giving their perspective on the need for the Merrimack Generating station to be shut down.

Barbara Peterson, member of Nonviolent Citizen Action, says:

“The fossil fuel industry doesn’t care about clean air, water, and soil.“Their priority is profit. It’s our job to say no to coal and other unsustainable energy sources. If we don’t stand up, put our bodies in the way of them destroying our ability to live on this earth, who will?”

This action sends a message to the owners of the coal plant that it is unacceptable to profit off of the destruction of the climate. Individuals in positions of power have failed to protect the climate and it is now up to ordinary people to make the changes necessary in the time we have left. We hope that people in power will follow our lead and make change in a direct way to stop the climate crisis in its tracks.

Lila Kohrman-Glaser, an organizer with 350NH Action, says:  “Last year ratepayers paid $50 million just to keep this plant open even though it provides only about 1% of our electricity. The out-of-state owners are getting rich off of the destruction of our climate and environment and our elected officials have done nothing to stop them.  We won’t stand for decision makers’ corruption and collusion with the fossil fuel industry anymore.”

“For years I’ve worked as an organizer trying to stop the climate crisis. It wasn’t until taking direct action to shut down Merrimack Station that I saw a shift in our community,” explains Emma Shapiro-Weiss, Organizer with 350NH Action. “Folks on the ground in New Hampshire know the health, environmental and economical impacts that this plant has on our state and we won’t stand for it anymore.”

This is just the beginning of the fight to end the use of fossil fuels in New Hampshire. The climate crisis is hurting people here and around the world. Moving forward, the No Coal No Gas coalition will continue to take matters into their own hands if leaders continue to fail to act.


Voices from the Manchester Youth Climate Strike

Friday, September 20th, hundreds of young people and adults, including students and teachers from Proctor Academy, converged on Veterans Park in Manchester to take part in the first-ever Manchester Youth Climate Strike. Stonyfield Farm supported the event by giving away yogurt at the park, and people took selfies with Climate Warrior frames.

Ana Maria from Manchester said of the event, “The Global Youth Climate Strike is a great example of the power of the people to come together and take action for a cause that we all believe in; the preservation of this planet.  The Manchester Climate Strike was a huge success, but it alone will not stop climate change. We have to harness the energy we witnessed and shared and create an ongoing movement against those who are actively profiting from destroying our planet and the lives of our people.  Capitalism is the reason we and our earth are all suffering and only we as a unified mass movement of working-class and oppressed people can put an end to it.  I feel immensely honored to have taken part in organizing the Manchester Climate Strike and I’m certain that progressive mass movements will continue to develop in our communities”.

“Manchester is striking because the city does not need the Granite Bridge Pipeline transporting fracked methane gas along Lake Massabesic, threatening their water supply.  With projects like that in the works, it is clear that New Hampshire is not on the path to 100% clean, safe, renewable energy.  We are fighting to stop this harmful pipeline project and to shut down the last major coal-fired power plant in New Hampshire. We call on our elected officials to publicly oppose the Granite Bridge Pipeline project and to endorse the Green New Deal”, said Pipeline Resistance Organizer Jennifer Dube with 350NH.

Sixteen-year-old student Sofia Mendes said, “We cannot wait to take action because what we do in the next decade will determine the future of our planet.  Today we are showing these politicians that climate change is our top priority and we refuse to be silent until solutions that every citizen can participate in have been put into action until plastic bags are gone, machines run on natural resources, and the pH in the oceans stop rising each year. I want to grow up.  I want to go to college, to have children, and I want them to see this beautiful world one day.  Every generation faces a new challenge and this one is ours.”

“I would say that we’re running out of time, but the truth is that low-income communities, Black and brown communities, and indigenous communities have long been bearing the brunt of climate change and environmental injustices.  We cannot fully address the climate crisis without climate justice.  That’s why in this moment, we must center communities, like right here in Manchester, in our action”, said Braxton Brewington.

“Mayor Joyce Craig, I really appreciate what you’ve done for our city. You’ve brought new businesses in, revitalized downtown life, demonstrated compassion for our transitional and addicted neighbors, and secured millions in grants for public education.  I was so excited to be able to vote for you again this past Tuesday.  Everything I mentioned about Manchester previously can be mostly attributed to your work over the past two years.  With that said I am calling on you Mayor Craig, to support our city’s future and take a stand with us against the Granite Bridge Pipeline.  Manchester does NOT want more fracked gas in our city – or shipped off to ANY other community.  We will NOT tolerate the poisoning of our water supply. We need you to come along with us as we lead our state into a future of sustainable energy.  Manchester is more than capable of being the city to take that on”, said Alissandra Rodriguez-Murray, Regional Organizer with Rights & Democracy NH.

Katherine Leswing, a teacher and mother from Concord said “We must elect politicians who prioritize clean energy and don’t veto it, politicians who oppose building new pipelines for fossil fuels, and politicians who are behind shutting down the Merrimack Station Power Plant in Bow – the last operating coal plant in New England without a closing date. Politicians and their families will not escape the impacts of the global climate crisis, because WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!”

“I just have a few words to say. Reduce, reuse, REFUSE, recycle, and please save the planet”, pleaded Myrica Palm-Bechtel, third grade.

Later after marching to City Hall, children left behind lasting messages with chalk art, while protesters were given a call-to-action to shut down the Merrimack Generating Station, the last large coal plant in New England without a shutdown date.