Published November 20, 2008 07:54 AM

Young activists fired up in fight against coal

JOHNSONVILLE — Outside the high school here Tuesday night, as people gathered for a public hearing, three young women wrestled with a big black inflatable coal plant that looked similar to a jump castle — except for the words "CLEAN UP DIRTY COAL PLANTS NOW" on the side.


One woman trying in vain to get the prop's smoke stacks raised was Katheryn Hilton, 20, of Aiken, who two months ago spent 11 hours in jail after being arrested at a demonstration at a coal plant in Virginia. Hilton said coal is a dirty technology that will spew mercury into the air and waterways and contribute to global warming.

Next to her, Sara Tansey, 20, looked for leaks. She took a year off from the University of South Carolina to fight the coal industry. "There are lots of young people who got engaged on the climate and energy issue during the election," she said. "I think young people are really awakening to injustice of the whole life cycle of coal."

Across the country, anti-coal activists, many of them students in their 20s, are attending hearings and engaging in demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience reminiscent of the protests their parents might have seen in the 1970s against nuclear plants.

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