The spewing smokestacks of Brayton Point have always been prominent landmarks in my life. On a road trip with family or friends, seeing the brown towers spring up on the horizon, in a strange way, represented home. Of course, as a child I had no idea that the coal and gas/oil-fired plant was the largest of its kind in New England and one of the largest in the U.S. at more than 1,500 megawatts (MW). But growing up in the town of Somerset, Mass., I got so used to the billowing plumes of smoke and faint hum of machinery that it was almost as if the plant wasn’t there – as if it was just another part of the landscape.
As time passed, I heard more and more stories of cancer, asthma and other respiratory issues. Residents and nearby communities would blame Brayton Point, but no one would ever be certain of their claims. Animosity toward the plant certainly grew, but it never transitioned into any substantial action.
Flash forward to this past weekend, where 400+ protestors from around the U.S. gathered in the small town and marched to Brayton Point, calling for Mass. governor Deval Patrick to come up with a plan to shutter the plant. Organized by 350.org and Better Future Action, the peaceful crowd carried mock wind turbines and solar panels to demonstrate alternatives to coal.