Kucinich to Receive Thomas Merton Award for Social Justice + Kucinich Opposes Coal-fired Power Plant

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by Congressman Dennis Kucinich
Washington, Oct 28, 2009

Congressman Dennis Kucinich D-OH will receive the 2009 Thomas Merton Award for his work in social justice this Sunday in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The award is granted annually by the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Social Justice.

“I am honored to receive this award and join the ranks of those who have done so much to advance the cause of peace and social justice,” said Kucinich.

Congressman Kucinich will receive the Award on Sunday, November 1, 2009 at the Thomas Merton 37th Annual Award Dinner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This award was founded in 1972. Among previous winners were: Author Studs Terkel, journalist Amy Goodman, author Howard Zinn, and United Nations General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto, children’s rights activist Marian Wright Edelman, Native American Activist and Author Winona LaDuke.

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Kucinich Opposes Coal-fired Power Plant

by Congressman Dennis Kucinich

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) yesterday sent a letter to the President and CEO of American Municipal Power Ohio (AMP) at AMP’s annual meeting in Cleveland, requesting a delay in the final decision on proceeding with a proposed coal-fired power plant to serve the municipal-owned power companies in Ohio.

In the letter, Kucinich reaffirms his support of municipal power, but expresses concern about the environmental and public health impact of coal-generated power. Instead, Kucinich urges AMP to become a leader in sustainable energy.

The full text of the letter follows:

October 27, 2009

Mr. Marc Gerken
President and CEO
American Municipal Power Ohio
2600 Airport Drive
Columbus, Ohio 43219-2277

Dear Mr. Gerken:

As you and your members are gathered in Cleveland for your annual conference, I am writing to urge your forbearance from making any final decisions on proceeding with a proposed coal-fired power generating plant to serve the municipal-owned power companies in Ohio.

I am a long-term supporter of municipal power. You and your members may recall that in 1978 as Mayor of Cleveland, I took on powerful private interests here to preserve municipal power in Cleveland. As a Member of Congress, I continue to provide a watchful eye on municipal power because our cities’ municipal-owned utilities belong to the people in whose interest we serve. It is my abiding respect for publicly owned power that compels me to urge you to choose the energy of the future over the energy of the past.

I am deeply troubled with the American Municipal Power’s (AMP) flirtation with coal-generated power. Coal-based energy is highly destructive. It destroys entire mountains, kills and injures workers at higher rates than most other occupations, decimates ecologically sensitive wetlands and streams, creates ponds of ash that are so toxic the Department of Homeland Security will not disclose their locations for fear of their potential to become a terrorist weapon, and fouls the air and water with sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and thousands of other toxic compounds that cause asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, and pulmonary and cardiac problems for starters.

It is also a primary contributor to one of the biggest challenges of our time, global warming, which means its future is uncertain at best. Even if Carbon Capture and Sequestration proves someday to remove a substantial portion of carbon dioxide from a coal plant’s emissions, it is a dangerous and expensive technology that is inefficient. If we are to reestablish a concentration of 350 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide in order to fend off the worst effects of global warming, there will be little room for error. States have denied applications for new coal plants in order to protect health and the environment. Pending global warming bills in Congress turn new coal plants into more of a liability than an asset. The Environmental Protection Agency is moving toward regulating greenhouse gases for the first time after a long awaited endangerment finding. Long term investments into coal infrastructure would be unwise at this time.

Ohio municipalities can choose to become a leader in sustainable energy policy or continue to follow the traditional path. Pursuing an energy agenda of yesterday not only ensures Ohio is left behind on the economic benefits of clean energy, but it forces heavy investments in infrastructure which may soon be obsolete as the United States and the world make the inevitable transition to a sustainable energy future. While coal is likely to be part of AMP’s fuel source mix for the foreseeable future, I question the wisdom of creating long-term commitments to coal as the world increasingly focuses on reducing its climate change emissions. I also believe that a stronger commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency is necessary. Several times more jobs are yielded by renewable energy investments than comparable coal investments. Lake Erie has strong wind potential and Cleveland has the workforce and possible sites where wind turbines can be manufactured. Furthermore, AMP and its member municipal utilities could be leaders in reducing the need for large-scale generation by providing incentives for their customers to adopt efficiency strategies for their homes and businesses. Indeed, Northeast Ohio’s economic recovery will depend on green jobs, largely associated with energy efficiency and clean energy generation. It is not only an obligation, but an inspirational opportunity to use public energy in the public interest by fueling that growth, creating new jobs, and contributing to more stable climate.

As you gather for your annual conference, I strongly urge you to defer any final decision which would commit AMP to moving forward with large-scale coal-fired power generation and place your member municipalities at risk. At a time when the need for legislative action on climate change has never been greater and Congress and the EPA are more poised than ever to take action, the regulatory landscape remains in flux. Now is not the time to put cities, and the people who live there, in greater financial straits. I urge you to not issue a final notice to proceed.

Sincerely,

Dennis J. Kucinich
Member of Congress
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3 thoughts on “Kucinich to Receive Thomas Merton Award for Social Justice + Kucinich Opposes Coal-fired Power Plant

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