Two years ago the Clean Power Coalition of Southeast Wisconsin began with a screening of Cheshire, Ohio, a film that documented the struggle of residents in a small Ohio town that was purchased by American Electric Power, the company that owns and operates the nearby coal-fired utility.
On Thursday, January 23rd at the River Bend Nature Center in Racine, the Clean Power Coalition will screen a documentary featuring interviews with those who are still neighbors to We Energies’ Oak Creek and Elm Road coal plants. Though seventy-five homes surrounding the plant have been purchased and leveled, these are the neighbors that still live downwind of a 15 acre mountain of coal and in the shadow of the twin smokestacks. Some of those neighbors will participate in a panel discussion of their more recent difficulties as residents living in close proximity to the plant.
If you live south of the Oak Creek coal plants, you have no doubt waited for long coal bearing trains to pass or have had your sleep disturbed by the sound of horns blasting in the middle of the night.
The second half of the program will feature a presentation on the history of coal in our area and on the coal trains themselves by local historian and train expert, Keith Kohlmann. Mr Kohlmann, who teaches technical education in Racine and serves on the board of directors for the Racine Heritage Museum, has written over two hundred articles on trains and speaks on this topic throughout the region. Mr. Kohlmann states, “It is good to understand today's situation within the context that created it. The pollution lobby would like all of us to participate in historical amnesia, and ignore the evidence of a legacy of environmental damage. I can show how energy technology has changed over the last 100 years, and how it continues to change. I hope it leads to a lively discussion.” In addition to this historical context, Mr Kohlmann will discuss the hazards of transporting coal over a thousand mile route and the problems that arise when trains pass through residential neighborhoods.