Communities in Action

MA: Thanks to Citizen Action, Massachusetts to be Coal-Free by 2017:
Years of activism pay off

This year activism won over coal in New England when Massachusetts’
last two operational coal-fired power plants announced they would retire
by 2017. Just several years ago, the state had four coal plants, but due to
the hard work and dedication of community leaders and the support of
Toxics Action Center, soon Massachusetts will be completely coal-free.
This past year’s work in Holyoke, Mass., made all the difference. Action
for a Healthy Holyoke organized four community-wide events, each
bringing out 50-100 people, to demonstrate the depth of the public’s
call for plant closure and a just transition for the plant’s workers. From
a public forum on reuse and a panel on transition for workers, to a
public hearing with State Sen. Michael Knapik and state Secretary
Richard Sullivan, and members of the state’s Plant Revitalization Task
Force, the public’s call for responsible retirement of the Mt. Tom coal
plant was loud and clear.
At the hearing, community member Carlos Rodriguez advocated for
a just transition to the task force. “We all know in Holyoke there
is a high rate of unemployment,” said Rodriguez, who argued that
deconstruction jobs for the plant should be offered first to former
plant employees and then to local citizens. Rodriguez also called for
the plant’s owner to provide generous severance packages, job training,
and a donation to the community.
With Mt. Tom plant scheduled to close this fall, there is no time to lose
in supporting the workers. Action for a Healthy Holyoke is continuing to
support the union, advocate for full clean up of the site and push for the
redevelopment of that property. We wish them the best and continue to
support similar work in Somerset, Mass., where the Brayton Point coal
plant will close in 2017.