On Thursday, August 30, three activists from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise attempting to make dirty energy an issue in the provincial election were arrested for mischief after boarding a vessel hauling coal across Lake Erie to the Nanticoke power plant.
Lake Erie - As I write this, a brisk breeze, one of the renewable resources we're hoping to promote, is blowing across the deck of the Arctic Sunrise.
Despite the ongoing police presence - two OPP boats, a Coast Guard ship and the occasional helicopter - four of our Zodiacs leave ship before 8 am today to greet the Great Lakes freighter Algomarine.
As the Zodiacs speed across the water, I radio the captain of the freighter to tell him Greenpeace is headed toward his ship to show peaceful opposition to the 30,000 tons of coal he is delivering to Nanticoke coal station.
I speak to him about why we are coming. I tell him we need to stop dangerous climate change within a decade or the world will face droughts, floods, sea-level rise and environmental refugees.
The coal he is delivering, I say, is killing the climate. We have the solutions to shut Nanticoke down, I add, but the Ontario government isn't investing in them. Studies show there is over 20,000 megawatts of offshore wind power potential on Lake Erie, but until now the Liberal government has shown no interest, even putting a moratorium on wind development on the Great Lakes.
Ontarians aren't going to stand for forking over more than $40 billion to nuclear expansion and continued reliance on coal when there are solutions that can be deployed quickly: renewables, conservation and local generation.
I ask the captain of the Algomarine as a citizen of the world to stand with Greenpeace today and refuse to deliver his coal shipment.
The response is radio silence.
The Arctic Sunrise captain and I can hear the success of our action in the radio banter between the crew of the Algomarine and the police. At approximately 8:20 am, activists in the Zodiacs begin painting, "No Coal, No Nuclear, Clean Energy" on the hull of the coal vessel.
Three of them then board the Algomarine. Two lock themselves to the loading boom, a conveyor belt that unloads coal, while the third suspends herself from the vessel's stern. The ship changes course and anchors. Success. We manage to stop the delivery of coal.
On the previous night, we heard through the media that Ontario Power Generation has been stirring up fear among locals in Haldimand and Norfolk counties about Greenpeace's presence.
Notice that OPG isn't warning folks of what they really should be concerned about - global warming.
We need a meaningful public debate on our energy future, but by the look of the OPP boats surrounding our ship, it seems the old guard doesn't want us to have it.
As the day ends, I find myself negotiating with police. After the activists are arrested, the OPP agree to give us unhindered passage back to Toronto. In total, we have stopped the delivery of coal for over 12 hours.
Some will say this is merely symbolic, but we did what we set out to do. Nanticoke's operation is wrong. It needs to stop.
firstname.lastname@example.org Shawn-Patrick Stensil is energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada.