The reality that my nearly 20 years of climate activism has taken a dramatically different tack was crystallized in an instant with the metallic sound of a rifle being chambered. My friend, Jay O'Hara, and I had anchored our 32-foot, Beale Island lobster boat, the Henry David T., off Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, MA, with the intention of blocking delivery by the Energy Enterprise coal cargo ship.
Shortly after anchoring in a dredged ship channel off the Brayton Point pier, I called the local police to let them know where we were and to emphasize that our protest was peaceful. The police told us that they didn't see any concerns, so long as we weren't too close to the power plant. I indicated that might be a problem.
The Energy Enterprise is classified as a self unloading coal cargo ship, measuring 689 feet in length and carrying 40,000 tons of coal. The ship runs a circuit between Brayton Point and Hampton Roads, VA, the largest coal export port in the world, through which most West Virginia coal is shipped.
The captain of the Energy Enterprise called us on the radio shortly after we spoke to the police. He said the ship was carrying American coal from West Virginia, and he didn't understand what we were protesting. After Jay explained that burning domestic coal was as much a problem as imported coal, the captain said he would call the Coast Guard, and shortly thereafter, several high speed Coast Guard vessels arrived. Our boat was boarded by three guards, who questioned us about the seaworthiness of our boat and conducted a safety inspection.
We were informed that continuing at anchor would be considered a violation of federal navigation regulations, and we were asked to move the vessel or be hit with a $40,000 per day fine. After considering the matter, we agreed to move. Having moored the Henry David T. with a 200 lb. mushroom anchor, however, it was not easy to comply. Jay and I tried a variety of approaches—manhandling the anchor chain by brute force, improvising levers and line pulleys, to no avail. After several hours of work, we got on the phone and were able to find a salvage barge in the area which, for a fee of $1,600, hauled up our anchor.
The Coast Guard issued us a warning for failure to have a fog horn aboard, and we do not know what action may be taken by federal, state or local governments, but understand that discussions are underway.
Brayton Point power plant owner Dominion Energy, after investing nearly $1.5 billion in upgrading the plant over the last six years, has announced its sale to Energy Capital Partners, a private equity firm in New Jersey, for a fire sale price estimated by analysts at $100-200 million. If the deal goes through, the new owners plan to continue plant operations as a hedge against rising natural gas prices.
The decision to sell Brayton Point makes sense to both parties within the current business context, but from a global perspective, it is stupid. Poised at the edge of climate system tipping points—on the very brink of the point of no return—the only reasonable action, if we are concerned about a future in which civilization remains possible, is a rapid shift away from fossil fuels and the immediate cessation of coal burning.
There is no means to argue for that common sense course of action in a private sale, so we choose to take the only avenue available to us: acting directly to block the process that is destroying our world.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.