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For Immediate Release, March 2, 2009
Contact: Francisca Santana, Center for Biological Diversity, (707) 338-5531,

 Capitol Climate Action Victorious in Washington, D.C.:
Capitol Power Plant Shut Down

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, climate activists from across the country braved a snowstorm and freezing temperatures to successfully block and shut down the Capitol Power Plant in Washington, D.C. Thousands of people of every age and race participated in the action, the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience on climate change in U.S. history. The Center for Biological Diversity, a sponsor of the event, sent Climate Associate Francisca Santana to participate in the event and walk beside the protesters, who included environmental activist Bill McKibben and climate scientist James Hansen.

The crowd of marchers was comprised of people from every walk of life: residents of coal mining towns, mothers and daughters, celebrities, scientists, and a large contingent of students who gathered in the capital this weekend for Powershift 2009, a youth climate conference. Notable attendees included Wendell Berry, Gus Speth, Vandana Shiva, and Daryl Hannah.

The protest was a model of organization and nonviolence. The crowd marched through the streets around the Capitol Power Plant and deposited a group of protesters in front of each gate in order to block traffic in and out. When addressing the crowd, author Wendell Berry said: “Someone asked me if I wanted to get arrested. The answer is simple: no. But I am willing to get arrested. We have tried everything else.” Ultimately no one was arrested during the protest.

Prior to the protest and march on the Capitol Power Plant, Powershift 2009 organized a morning and afternoon of lobbying on Capitol Hill. A group of students gathered in front of the Capitol on the West Lawn to rally and support their fellow students who walked the halls of the Capitol and legislative offices. The rally featured several speakers, including Congressman Ed Markey, Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Francisca Santana, climate associate at the Center for Biological Diversity, said today: “The Lobby Day will serve as a catalyst for members of Congress to act in the coming months on bold climate legislation. The voices of the youth of America were heard today, loud and clear, on the steps of the Capitol.”

This is a critical year for leadership by both Congress and the White House on energy and climate change. Leading climate scientist James Hansen has made it clear that atmospheric greenhouse gas levels must be reduced to 350 parts per million or below in order to avoid the most profound effects of global warming. Dr. Hansen, in a statement of support before the protest, said: “Climate is an emergency. Climate is changing, the ocean is getting warmer, ice is melting, climate zones are shifting…. What has become clear from the science is that we cannot burn all the fossil fuels without creating a very different planet.”

Also, in an email today, author and activist Bill McKibben asked people across the country to support the action with the following pledge: “I share your vision of a coal-free future and a safe climate, not only in Washington D.C., but all over the world. I stand in solidarity with the coalition of citizens working for a clean energy future for the entire planet.”


For a list of sponsors and more information about the Capitol Climate Action (including videos about the event), visit

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