GA YES! Says “NO!” to Coal
by Brittany Forrestal – Southern Energy Network Activist and Intern
When it comes to climate issues in the state of Georgia, there’s a lot of work to be done. I know this, you know this, and, as it turns out, we’re definitely not alone.
Last weekend, Georgia Youth for Energy Solutions (YES!), the new youth-organized Georgia branch of the Southern Energy Network, joined more than sixteen student organizers from across the state in Milledgeville, Ga, to launch a student organization dedicated to creating a coal-free Georgia. Students from Georgia Perimeter College, Oglethorpe University, Emory University, Mercer University, and the University of Georgia all showed up to represent their campuses and collaborate with other students to create a coal-free Georgia.
After hours of recruitment calls, a night of lunch-packing, and an early-morning drive to Georgia College and State University, we found ourselves exhilarated by everyone’s shared enthusiasm. Every single person present showed genuine interest and genuine excitement about the opportunity we have. We can stop coal in Georgia. We have great resources, we’re intelligent, and we’re passionate about our fight.
We spent the morning talking about the dangers of coal, discussing Georgia’s current coal situation, and brainstorming strategies and tactics to end coal in Georgia. The real highlight of the day, however, came after lunch, when we all loaded up and drove to Sandersville, Ga, which is the proposed home of coal-fired Plant Washington. We went to the local Kaolin festival in downtown Sandersville, where we handed out flyers and talked to locals about the dangers of coal. It was a soaring success; we were able to meet dozens of residents and find out where they stand and give them really important information about the plant, while enjoying the atmosphere of the festival and the beautiful weather.
After our Sandersville adventure, we wound up at a beautiful cabin in the woods, only a few miles from where Plant Washington is proposed to be constructed. There, we discussed final plans, formulated an action timeline for the next few weeks, and we agreed to continue working on this campaign both collaboratively and on our home campuses. It was an amazing day filled with amazing brainstorming by amazing students. Needless to say, I had a great time.
There is one thing in particular, however, that I’d like to mention. I think it’s safe to say that after visiting Sandersville and talking to its residents, we all felt a renewed obligation to fight this coal plant. I’ve known about this plant for a long time now and I’ve known about how dangerous and detrimental it will be if it is built, but it all seemed so abstract to me. I realized that this plant would affect me and millions of other Georgians, but I suppose I never felt personally connected to it. This weekend, that all changed. I saw the city, I saw the beautiful countryside where the plant is supposed to be built, and I felt a new urge to end coal in Georgia.
So now, I’m asking that you all help in the fight. On October 20, the Environmental Protection Division will have a hearing to give citizens an opportunity to voice their views on the coal plant. It’s open to the public and we need to get as many people as possible to show up and express opposition to the plant. The hearing is in Sandersville and it starts at 6pm, with a 5pm information session from residents and field experts. Please register here to attend the meeting. Bring friends! Bring family! Bring posters and t-shirts and an opinion. We’ll be there in all our anti-coal glory. Will you?