NEWS RELEASE Contact: June Blotnick 704-342-9161
October 15, 2007 Jim Warren 919-416-5077
Top Climate Expert Joins Fight vs New Coal-power in NC
NASA’s Hansen brings his ‘averting catastrophe’ message to Charlotte, Triangle
CHARLOTTE, NC – The nation’s foremost climatologist will bring his urgent message against corporate influence over energy-and-climate decisions to North Carolina in November. Dr. James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute and an outspoken proponent for rapid reductions in greenhouse gases, will outline his five-step plan for solving the global climate emergency at a pair of forums in Charlotte and Chapel Hill. His leading recommendation: a moratorium on coal-fired power plants such as one planned by Duke Energy at Cliffside, North Carolina.
The forums, called “AVERTING CLIMATE CATASTROPHE: Power Plants or Clean Energy – Who Decides?” will be hosted by two nonprofit citizen groups, the Charlotte-based Carolinas Clean Air Coalition and NC WARN of Durham, and co-sponsored by other nonprofits across the state. Mike Nicklas, an internationally recognized green architect and leader in renewable energy, will join Dr. Hansen in laying out a societal path that can cut global warming pollution rapidly through clean energy and by avoiding dangerous new power plants.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Hansen has helped lead the scientific community’s knowledge of global warming. As Hansen says, recent evidence shows the problem is worse than predictions of even 3-5 years ago: “The bottom line is this: business-as-usual, if it continues for even another decade, will be disastrous … [producing a planet] without sea ice in the Arctic; with worldwide, repeated coastal tragedies associated with storms and a continuously rising sea level ….” Hansen also notes that“Early stages of increased drought and fires are already beginning in the American West” and elsewhere.
In a CBS 60 Minutes profile in March 2006, Hansen said, “The speed of the natural changes is now dwarfed by the changes humans are making to the atmosphere and the surface.”
Carolinas Clean Air and NC WARN are part of a statewide effort by public interest groups to block the new Cliffside plant and help the state reduce greenhouse gases by aggressively ramping up energy efficiency, cogeneration and renewables. That effort has already stopped one of two plants Duke sought to build at Cliffside – by proving it wasn’t needed. The second unit has suffered multiple delays and cost overruns and is the subject of ongoing legal battles over air pollution and water permits.
“It’s inspiring that a leading scientist like Jim Hansen is championing the call for public action,” said June Blotnick, Executive Director of Carolinas Clean Air Coalition. “He realizes that due to the prominence of Duke Energy and CEO Rogers, turning the tide here can have a great impact on the much-needed national action to slow global warming.”
The BBC recently labeled Hansen “the grandfather of the largest grassroots movement on the planet.” He has already weighed in on the Cliffside fight as a private citizen – not in his official function – with a compelling letter to the state regulators.* “In blunter language,” he wrote, “ it has become clear that in order to avoid creating a different planet with disastrous consequences for humanity and other species, over the next few decades we will need to “bulldoze” old-style power plants that do not capture and store CO2.” The proposed Cliffside unit will neither capture nor store CO2, with annual emissions projected at 6 million tons.
Hansen has been openly critical of White House efforts to muzzle him and other scientists, and over energy companies’ role in impeding corrective measures by muddying the climate issue. He says, “The public must lead in the solution of the global warming problem. Special interests may have wounded our democracy, but it is still alive and well enough.” That message coincides with evidence that in North Carolina, both Duke and Progress Energy wield enormous and harmful control over policymakers.
Dr. Hansen’s message is urgent but hopeful: “In fact, the things we need to do have many other benefits … there’s so much potential in efficiency, we don’t need new power plants if we take advantage of that.”
His five-step plan includes investments in and national standards for energy efficiency, along with curbing special interest influence over scientists and politicians.
Mike Nicklas has for three decades proven the economic and environmental advantages of solar energy and high-performance building design. In just one category, his Raleigh-based architectural firm, Innovative Design, Inc. has helped schools save more than $3.5 million annually in energy, eliminating 340,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Nicklas is past chair of the American Solar Energy Society and past president of the International Solar Energy Society.
Cliffside opponents are urging CEO Jim Rogers to cancel the plant and live up to his strong statements supporting climate protection and energy efficiency. They emphasize that the fight over Cliffside will only intensify if Duke starts construction early next year.
“As North Carolina continues to learn how backward and damaging new coal at Cliffside would be, blocking this plant is the only option,” said NC WARN director Jim Warren. “This one new plant could negate much of the national effort to reduce global warming pollution – and further squander our chances to solve this unprecedented problem.”
The forums will be held at 7pm on November 16 at Queens University of Charlotte, and at 3pm on November 17, at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill. Admission is free but early reservation of seats is recommended.
* See Dr. Hansen’s letter to NC regulators: www.ncwarn.org