“No Love for Polluters:” On Valentine’s Day, Prince George’s residents demanded a ban on more power plants in their community
Prince George’s County, Maryland — Over seventy Prince George’s residents used their Valentine’s Day this year to demand that the County Council ban the construction of all future fossil fuel power plants. In a virtual gathering, community members came together to commiserate about the health impacts of the plants, and collectively emailed and tweeted their Council representatives to demand #Envirojustice4PrinceGeorge’s.
“We should no longer be a sacrifice zone,” said Caryl Henry Alexander, Prince George’s county resident and community activist. “We deserve health, community and clean air.”
The pollution released as a byproduct of the power plants contribute significantly to rates of cancer, increased infant mortality, asthma, stroke, and heart disease in residents who are forced to live near to the plants. In the age of coronavirus, the pollutants from the power plants significantly increase the risk of death in this predominantly Black and Brown community. Brandywine, an unincorporated area in Prince George’s county, is the site of several of these power plants, and is over 75% African American according to US Census Bureau data.
Mckayla Wilkes, a community leader and activist also based in Prince George’s county, said, “We need a plan to fight for environmental justice in Maryland that does more than write reports and press releases. We need a plan that centers uplifting the community and our needs.”
After five years of organizing, the energy company Mattawoman Energy cancelled what would have been a fifth power plant from being installed in their community, following 3 natural gas, and one natural gas and coal combination. The project planned would have been a 990-megawatt natural gas plant. On January 26th, the Mattawoman Energy LLC determined that the project was no longer feasible.
But four power plants remain and continue to sicken residents, even as the Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that the county has dangerously high levels of ozone at the ground level. Increased ground-level ozone is connected to nitrogen oxide, which is one pollutant that the plants emit.
Communications contact: Kaela Bamberger, [email protected], 202-222-0703