Bringing Down Big Coal

11/07/2007 09:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Three weeks ago, I said that Al Gore should be thrown in jail - and that I'd be happy to join him.

Gore was quoted in the NYT as saying that he couldn't understand why more young people weren't blocking bulldozers to prevent the construction of coal-fired power plants. I agreed and invited him to join thousands of activists across the country November 16-17 for two days of nonviolent direct action targeting Citi and Bank of America, the banks that are financing the construction of more than 150 new coal-fired power plants across the United States.

According to his staff, he is still considering our invitation.

Peaceful civil disobedience has a long and storied history in this country. It helped to secure women's right to vote, and enact civil rights legislation. From Harriet Tubman to Reverend King, peaceful civil disobedience has helped lift this country out of our darkest hours. And Mr. Gore is right: in our time, civil disobedience will help to create the clean energy economy that will benefit all Americans.

On Monday, Rainforest Action Network helped to organize a protest involving more than 300 student climate activists opposed to Citi's involvement in dirty coal. En masse, the youth activists performed a "die-in," literally lying down in front of a Washington, D.C., Citi branch until it was forced to send its employees home and close business for the day. Our action represented just a small sample of the people and the passion that descended on D.C. this week for Power Shift, the first national youth summit to confront the climate crisis.

Whether we lie in front of banks or bulldozers, the principle remains the same: we can no longer afford to tolerate coal or the banks that fund it. We're still hoping Mr. Gore will join us for our November 16-17 national day of action against coal finance, but, regardless, one thing is certain: Big Coal is leaving the building, and it will be the courage and commitment of activists both young and old that sends it on its way.

Check out our video of the Citi "die-in," where longtime coalfield residents and college students explain why they're laying it on the line to stop coal, like Gore says they should.