Recap of Fossil Fools Day at Kennecott

Fossil Fools Day at Kenecott

Salt Lake Valley residents gather at the gates of Kennecott's coal-fired power plant to make their demands for Kennecott and Rio Tinto to stop externalizing costs by polluting the air they breath

It was a striking sight: kids and seniors, moms and dads, returned missionaries and gay couples, singing “Clean energy today!” in unison. Around 40 folks gathered at the gates of the Kennecott Copper coal-fired power plant on Saturday morning to stand in solidarity at the Fossil Fools Day rally, making their demands for Kennecott to stop burning coal in Salt Lake Valley. Attendees ranged anywhere from under six years to over sixty years of age, and carried large, bright banners and signs painted with slogans like “people over profits” and “system change, not climate change.”

The demonstration signals the beginning of what may be a long campaign to convince the only company currently burning coal in Salt Lake Valley to switch to cleaner and renewable energy. The Fossil Fools Day rally, organized by Peaceful Uprising in concert with a handful of other local environmental advocacy groups, presented Kennecott with three simple demands from citizens who live in its vicinity: First and foremost, to immediately cease burning coal; secondly, to transition to clean and renewable energy by the year 2015; and finally, to ensure that the costs of being responsible—the price of switching to clean energy from coal—not be taken out of the wages of its worker, and instead be reflected in the price of its products. All of these are within the scope of Kennecott’s abilities, but the citizens who attended the demonstration agree that it will likely require long-term efforts to convince the company to change.

Speakers at the rally included Dr. Brian Moench, a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists and co-founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, and Cherise Udell, Founder and President of Utah Moms for Clean Air.  Dr. Moench offered a long list of stark facts regarding the physical impacts on citizens who live in the vicinity of a coal-fired power plant, Utah’s unique vulnerability to the effects of climate change and coal’s proven link to the climate crisis. Ms. Udell (with her two small daughters in tow in their Easter best) described the effects of pollution on Utahns, particularly children, and the short- and long-term health consequences that have been clinically linked to exposure to poor air quality. Peaceful Uprising engaged in some light street theater, as Ashley Anderson gave a satirical speech in the voice of Kennecott, wearing a huge paper mache mask.

The tone of the rally was one of frustration, but also of resolve. Toward the demonstration’s conclusion, Anderson took the stage again as Kennecott, but this time committed to the participants’ demands. He sardonically offered the company’s gratitude: “You have convinced us; and we want to thank people like you, for helping us do the right thing for Utah citizens.”

You can also read our original post for this action, containing an explanation of why we chose to target Kennecott for Fossil Fools Day.

Also, if you’d like to get involved in the future, please sign up for our action alert list.