Earth First! Blockades Florida Power Plant Construction, 27 Arrested

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Florida, February 19, 2008 (ENS) – Early Monday morning, a dozen activitists protesting the construction of Florida Power & Light’s West County Energy Center locked themselves together through metal pipes as 200 supporters rallied around them at the main entrance of the construction site.

The blockade stopped work at the site for six hours before 27 people were arrested.

The activists say they took this action to protect the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, which lies 1,000 feet from the power plant site and to protect the larger Everglades ecosystem.

Earth First! demonstrators locked themselves
together through iron pipes to protest
natural gas power plants under
construction. (Photo courtesy
Rising Tide North America)

“We just don’t need this plant,” said Lynne Purvis, an activist with Everglades Earth First! who was born and raised in the Loxahatchee area. “I’m not willing to threaten the integrity of the Loxahatchee, one of the last large, intact pieces of northern Everglades, so that people can fuel their greedy energy desires.”

Florida Power & Light, FPL, is currently building two new natural gas-fired combined-cycle generating units at the 220 acre site in western Palm Beach County. A third unit for the site was recently announced but has not yet been permitted.

FPL says all three units are safe, clean, efficient, reliable, and cost-effective sources of power and each unit will be equipped with the most advanced emission control equipment.

The three units will be able to produce 1,250 megawatts of power each – enough electricity produced by each unit to serve about 250,000 homes and businesses – about 750,000 in total.

Units 1 and 2 presently under construction will begin serving customers in 2009 and 2010 respectively. If approved, Unit 3 would begin serving customers in 2011, says FPL.

The activists say that natural gas is not clean energy and the three units would emit 12 million tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide every year.

The activists worry that Everglades restoration would be undermined by new development that the power plant is expected to encourage in the area.

Purvis says that the Everglades Earth First! group intends to continue a sustained campaign of direct action against this power plant and its adjacent gas pipeline.

The protest was attended by grassroots activists and groups from across the United States who have been participating in the annual Earth First! Winter Rendezvous.

One such group, Rising Tide North America, is part of an international movement for climate justice, which connects the social and environmental issues related to the growing climate crisis and calls for “urgent and bold responses to the global human-caused dilemma.”

Brian Sloan, an organizer with Rising Tide North America and participant in Monday’s protest, said, “FPL is doing what we call green-washing. Gas-fired power is not a clean or sustainable energy. It is a dirty and dwindling fossil fuel.”

Sloan says Rising Tide does not trust energy companies to solve the climate crisis. “The solutions to climate change will never come from the people who created the problem,” he said.

Purvis says that the Everglades Earth First! group intends to continue a sustained campaign of direct action against this power plant and its adjacent gas pipeline.

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