Greenpeace fires away at coal

Dozens of Kansans gathered Sunday afternoon in front of the Lawrence Energy Center, run by Westar Energy, to bring attention to the dangers of coal.

“Coal is one of the major emitters of greenhouse pollution,” said Suzanne Graham, the global warming field organizer for Greenpeace. “If we don’t get rid of coal or at least phase it out and move toward a renewable energy economy, we’re not going to stop global warming.”

Plus, with the election just over a week away, the rally attendees saw an opportunity to grab the attention of candidates.

“Their ears are wide open so we’re trying to be as loud as we can,” said Lawrence resident Jason Boyer. “This is something that’s going to go on for a long time, so whoever is elected into office, we’re going to have to continue this work.”

A press release from the group says the Lawrence Energy Center is “the nation’s 12th most polluting coal plant.” Global warming is a key issue for Greenpeace, which supports alternative ways to get energy, including wind.

“We know that there’s other alternatives,” said Lawrence resident and Greenpeace volunteer Sylvia Niccum. “It’s here, we need to use it and we just want our leadership to know that and do something about it.”

Graham also emphasized that the environment wouldn’t be the only benefactor of a switch to clean energy.

“Recently, a report came out saying that 19,000 jobs in Kansas alone could be created with an investment in a renewable energy economy,” she said. Graham says that includes wind and solar energy and retrofitting buildings to make them greener. She says many areas like research, development, transportation and manufacturing could be helped by renewable energy.

But the issue isn’t restricted to just Kansas.

“We’re trying to bring some national attention to the issue,” said Boyer. “This is something that all the states need to start trying to do.”