With a billowing smokestack in the background, about 30 activists on Saturday chanted, “What do we want? Clean energy. When do we want it? Now,” in front of the Westar Energy facility, 1250 N. 1800 Road in Lawrence. The event was part of a global day of action, organized by 350.org, designed to reduce global carbon emissions.
Organizers and participants advocated for decreasing the use of coal as an energy source.
“It’s dirty. It’s filthy,” said local Greenpeace activist Jodi Jakylovich.
Jakylovich said one of the event’s goals was to encourage energy companies to utilize cleaner forms of energy, such as wind and solar power. Despite demonstrating in front of Westar, she said the event was not directed specifically at the company.
“We have the ability to have renewable energy in Kansas,” she said.
The event in Lawrence was part of more than 2,000 events on Saturday across the world. The number 350 signifies the “safe limit for humanity” of carbon dioxide parts per million in the environment, according to the organization’s Web site. The current world level of carbon dioxide is nearing 400 parts per million.
Lawrence businessman Tony Schmidt said he was at the event for the protection of the environment for future generations.
“I can’t face my grandchildren and daughters if we don’t take a stand,” he said. “We need to faze out these coal plants.”
Amy Pepper, also a Greenpeace activist, said it’s important to get Kansas more involved in the environmental movement.
“Kansas is a great place to allocate wind energy,” she said, as mini-windmills twirled in the grass near the demonstrators. “This is where it matters. … Why aren’t we standing in front of a big wind farm?”
The event ended after about 30 minutes when two Douglas County Sheriff’s patrol cars arrived. Participants were told they were on Westar property and agreed to leave after discussions with police.