Protesters return to Merrimack Station, demand closure

·3 min read

Oct. 3—Six months ago, Sharon Boschert said she moved to New Hampshire from northern California because of forest fires.

"I couldn't breathe," she said. "The fires were so bad and I was hundreds of miles away from the fires."

On Sunday afternoon, she held a sign that read "Clean Energy Now" and joined more than 100 others in a protest calling for the Merrimack Station coal-burning power plant to be shut down. The plant is operated by Granite Shore Power.

Unlike protests in years past, no participants were arrested. The group is part of the ongoing No Coal, No Gas campaign, a grassroots coalition organized to stop the burning of coal and other fossil fuels for electrical generation in New England.

"I'm shocked, shocked that there is still a coal-fired plant in New Hampshire or in any of New England," said Boschert, who now lives in Lebanon with her wife.

She added: "Any politician or the independent system operator or anyone else who says, 'We just can't move fast enough,' That is just nonsense. We have the tools, we have the solutions. We need the political will to make it happen."

The protesters carried signs that read "Coal is crime" and "No Coal in Bow."

In December 2019, a small number of activists were arrested during a protest aimed at preventing a train shipment of coal. Sixty-seven activists were arrested for trespassing at a protest a few months earlier.

The company did not return an email seeking comment Sunday afternoon. In previous statements, Granite Shore Power has said, "on the coldest days and hottest nights, when the availability of gas is severely constrained, our team provides necessary heat and power for our homes and small businesses."

Bow resident Mary Fite spoke in front of the crowd, using a megaphone alongside her partner and three children.

"Granite Shore Power wants to scare you into thinking that pollution is the only way to keep the lights on," she said. "That is just not true. Wind is one of the feasible options. New Hampshire has the highest recorded wind speeds on the entire planet."

Bow and state police were stationed around the property.

The group spoke of how Granite Shore Power blocked access to a nearby boat launch where the group had planned to paddle down the Merrimack River. Instead the group launched in nearby Allenstown.

Katie Lessard of Bow served as the master of ceremonies.

"The Merrimack Power State pollutes the air and water of my community and contributes to the climate crisis," she said. "Every hour that the plant runs it releases the same amount of emission that one person emits in 26 years. This is unacceptable."

Jim Mulley of Salem, Mass., said he has devoted his life to climate activism after years as a leukemia doctor. He's surprised the coal-fired power plant doesn't have a closing date.

"The alternative is there, we just haven't taken it for three decades," he said. "Off-shore wind in Europe has been used for three decades and we have the best wind in the planet offshore New England. And why have we not done it? It is because of the political power of the fossil fuel industry that refuses to allow progress. It is their business plan, I get it. But it is not acceptable."

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