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Somerset Lobster Party, Global Warming Heroics Sunsets Carbon Pollution

Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter dropped all charges against Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara for blocking a coal shipment for nearly a day to the Brayton Point power plant in Somerset, MA.

Holding high Bill McKibben’s Rolling Stone article, A Call to Arms, the D.A. said “I do believe they’re right, that we’re at a crisis point with climate change. Climate change is one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced,” Sutter said. “In my humble opinion, the political leadership on this issue has been sorely lacking.”  He went on to vow to join the People’s Climate March in New York City, September 21.

Monday evening, Bill McKibben spoke at Lesley University where his book Eaarth was the assigned reading.  Referring to D.A Sutter’s actions he said: “I was moved in a way that I can’t remember being moved by a public official in a long time. It’s easy to get cynical about politicians, and then one of them shows a real maturity and grace.”

The Energy Enterprise, a 700 foot long freighter hauling about 40,000 tons of coal slated for the Somerset power plant was blockaded by a lobster boat named the Henry David Thoreau, the father of civil disobedience during the Mexican-American War.

The local police employed a salvage operator to haul the 200 lb anchor with lobster boat attached out of the way and coal was delivered.

When Hancock and his merry men held the Boston Tea Party they were not made to pay expenses incurred. The two lobstermen blockaders of the Enterprise were made to pay $4,000 to the local police for their nautical escapade. The local economy benefited and  stories will be forever told.  Just like Bostonians drinking tea in 1776, there was never a hiccup in the 1,528-megawatt power plant’s delivery of power.

“Our effort was to shut down this plant, and that hasn’t been achieved,” said Jay O’Hara.

“We lost an opportunity to educate the public, but we gained an extraordinary statement,” said Ken Ward.

“This is the response we need to be getting from elected and appointed officials if we’re going to change our trajectory on the climate.”

Jay O'Hare aboard his lobster boat blocking the Energy Enterprise from delivering coal to Somerset MA power plant.

Jay O’Hare aboard his lobster boat blocking the Energy Enterprise from delivering coal to Somerset MA power plant.


The 30 foot former lobster boat displayed banners that said “Coal is Stupid” and “350” [ppm carbon pollution is too much].  Trouble was the lobster boat was linked to a 200 lb anchor without a winch just off the pier at the Somerset MA power plant.  On the other side of the boat, Somerset-bound, was the enormous Energy Enterprise, a 700 foot long freighter hauling about 40,000 tons of coal slated for Somerset power plant.  No lobsters were caught, nor coal “beamed’ ashore, that day in May 2013.

The Coast Guard worked long with local police.  A commercial salvage boat was employed to move the 200 lb anchor with lobster boat attached out of coal’s way. Cargo delivered.

For Ken Ward from Oregon and Jay O’Hara, local boat owner, their actions were necessary because of the threats posed by climate change.  They do not dispute the charges brought against them of disturbing the peace, conspiracy, failure to act to avoid a collision, and negligent motor vessel operation.  Their intent is to prove global warming is real and that bold action is needed to rescue our planet from a greater collision of forces than that of the ship Energy Enterprise and one power plant turning coal to clinker.

Jay O’Hara and Ken Ward’s historic lobster-boat-at-anchor trial will be held on September 8th & 9th in Fall River.  Jay and Ken write:

“This may be a bit different from most invitations, but we hope you’ll bear with us for a moment.  The two of us are about to go on trial and have the chance to argue for the necessity of aggressive, science-based climate action in a court of law.  This is a rare opportunity for our movement to be heard loud and clear, to break through the clutter and show just how grave the danger is.  We hope you’ll consider joining us in Fall River for the trial September 8th and 9th to drive that message home.”

If you’d like to stand in solidarity with intrepid seafaring coal blockaders, you must r.s.v.p. and read Alison’s post (and leave the rum bunged-up in home port).

Make way Hancock and your Boston Tea Party for the Somerset Lobsterboat Party.

Too taxing, we won’t let our communities suffer pollutants while you profit burning coal!  The costs are unbearable to our families, natural communities and ways of life, the planet’s atmosphere and increasingly the climate.  

Send clarion cheers to www.lobsterboatblockade.org

26 responses on “Somerset Lobster Party, Global Warming Heroics Sunsets Carbon Pollution

  1. Harper Dangler

    Bravo to Jay and Ken for mooring strong to advance our global cause to reduce the carbon levels in our atmosphere. I went to Earlham with Jay, so I’m particularly proud. I hope lots of folks come out in support at their trial in Fall River.

  2. Sandra Brady

    We need to clone these two by thousands with the integrity to stand p to Big Coal, and Big power plants, who control our lives through their monopolistic abuse of their necessary commodities. We need to replace ALL state and federal representatives to get some who actually listen to the people and prevent these monopolies from controlling peoples lives and health!

  3. Lynne Latham

    This is the best stories I have heard in a long time. God bless them for putting their butts on the line to end polluting our planet and doing it in such a creative way. Cudos to their cajones! I bet that trial will get a ton of publicity.

  4. Elizabeth Brawley

    Thank you for speaking for many of us who believe that unless we reduce the carbon levels in the atmosphere our days of enjoying this beautiful and nurturing planet will be severely limited. We have so much to be thankful for and enjoy and it would be wonderful if, instead of destroying this amazing gift that we work to reduce the carbon levels and preserve and enhance the planet and atmosphere for all to enjoy forever.

  5. Catherine Bailey

    Thank you for your brave action. You will be speaking for all of us when you being climate science to the court of law. I am hoping 350.org and others will be able to be there and provide support. Wish I could think of something to do that would stop the endless coal trains leaving Wyoming. Your action has given me hope.

  6. Steven J Ercole

    Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara are the Knights Templar! This planet needs more like them. I thank them for their dedication, commitment, and integrity!

  7. Lorraine Gardner

    You are heroes, the real kind. Who doesn’t wish they could be in that courtroom right behind you, physically, if they could. Millions the world over are with you in spirit, and cheering for your cause the whole way. Keep standing tall, guys, you done good!

  8. Pauline Callahan

    I’m an old lady and probably won’t be around when Mother Earth has to say “Enough!” I am cheered to know that there are young people out there who are putting themselves in harm’s way to postpone that day. God bless you, boys.

  9. David Laing

    Ward and O’Hara definitely deserve medals for valiant action in a worthy cause against dirty coal, but I have what I think is some hopeful news. The NOAA graph of global warming (ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/global-land-ocean-mntp-anom/201101-201112.png) shows that the dramatic temperature rise we experienced in the last 3 decades of the 20th century peaked in 2005, and since then has begun a gradual decline. This suggests that carbon dioxide, which has continued its monotonic upward trend unchecked for as long as records have been kept (esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends), might not actually be the driver of global warming after all! What, then might have driven the sudden temperature rise from 1975 to 2005? A graph from the Australian government (environment.gov.au/protection/ozone/montreal-protocol/graphs) shows a dramatic rise in stratospheric chlorine from 1965 to 1995, declining thereafter, suggesting that chlorine from chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) releases to the atmosphere might well have been the driver. The discovery that monatomic chlorine destroys ozone, thus thinning Earth’s ozone layer and admitting high-energy ultraviolet solar radiation, led to the Montreal Protocol of 1989-99, banning CFC production. If chlorine from CFCs was, in fact, the cause of global warming, then the problem has already been solved, and global temperature and climate should return to normal by about mid-century. This doesn’t need to be good news for Big Coal, however! We still need to keep up the good fight to replace dirty fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy sources, but we no longer need to waste our time, energy, and resources on demonizing carbon dioxide.

  10. David

    Do you people have a clue as to what runs this country.
    When you are huddled up in your home this winter, and you saunter over to the thermostat, to raise it a degree or two, where do you think that energy is coming from?
    Have any of you investigated the global warming HOAX.
    Sensors are placed in mall parking lots, and on the roofs of the malls themselves, around the country.
    Have any clue to the temperatures on the roofs, or in the parking lots during the SUMMER.105 DEGREES, generated not only by the sun beating down on the roof, but by all the AC Equipment, running to the keep the retail stores cool, for your shopping pleasure.
    The arctic ice is growing, and our summers have…. oh my…
    gotten a degree or two COOLER.
    Wake up and smell something other then the kool aid in your cup.
    With all the lying cheating politicians in office, you would think we would be smart enough to vote someone into the positions they hold/ Senators, Congressmen and woman, that actually
    have the people they represent on there mind, instead of where there next campaign check is coming from.
    I grew up with Coal, then Hydroelectric and Nuclear power.
    Do ANY of you ever think, or even KNOW what would happen if the coal fired plants went off line for a season, what the strain would be on the complete electrical grid, from coast?
    You all talk a good game, but what are you doing about it? Ask yourself what you have done to help out?
    Then ask yourself what our elected officials have done?
    Obama spent 40 million on vacations…. 40 MILLION.
    The Clintons, Hillary was just claiming recently that they were broke when they left the White House. THEY FILED TAX REPORTS OVER 12 MILLION 1 YEAR AFTER THEY LEFT. Do any of you think that the Clintons care at all about Global warming
    When the wind stops blowing, the wind farms are not generating juice. When the sun is being hidden behind the clouds, the panels aren’t generating. The only way you can store the energy provided by these means is by batteries
    Until technology catches up we are going to be using FOSSIL Fuels for a long long time.
    I’m sure John Kerry, our ever so bright S o S laughs all the way to the bank as hes flying around on
    I hope Ken & Jay enjoy there day in court. They will probably complain about the fines levied on them for leaving the ship where they anchored it.
    They should be out working to feed the family, not causing more work for our maritime men and woman who work to keep our waterways safe.
    What would happen if someone was hurt while the boat is being salvaged, or during the incident back in 2013.
    Some people JUST DONT GET IT.

  11. David DiBona

    I hope Ken & Jay thought about the ecological mini disaster they created by there actions.
    Coal has been burning this country warm for so many generations I’ve lost count.
    Good luck staying warm when the plants close.
    The nuclear reactors and the Hydro plants will be all we have left to supply the grid. WHEN THE WINDS NOT BLOWING, THE JUICE AIN’T FLOWING. That’s for you Wind Fans.
    And for you Solar Panel fans, get a good stack of batteries in your house from the company that installs your panel’s, and pray the power is not out for more then a day or two.
    Plymouth lost power for 44 hours in my neighborhood a few years back… 2007 I think
    Good thing I had a gas fired generator to take up the slack….
    Remember, you cant run your oil burner, or gas fired furnace… WITHOUT ELECTRICITY.
    Whats your poison…. Nuclear, Hydro, Or COAL

  12. David DiBona

    Imagine if someone was injured in the mishap between the tanker and the lobster boat.
    What about the salvage crews, or the coast guard, if the guard were on there way and something happened to their ship.
    Who would be paying for that bill…….
    Certainly not Ken & Jay
    The State of Massachusetts should give all fines received to the neediest of families in New Bedford or Fall River area.

  13. Rob Moir, Ph.D. Post author

    That’s some attitude you’ve got. Everyone was very competent and professional. The Energy Enterprise hailed the Henry David Thoreau and ask them to move so he could come along side Brayton Point pier. Will not move came the reply. The Coast Guard monitoring channel 16 heard the interchange and dispatched a boat. The situation was explained the Henry David could not move because they had set an anchor to heavy for them to lift. The local police then employed a salvage operator. The Coast Guard is not permitted to make that call lest they show favoritism. The salvagers lifted the 200lb anchor and towed it with lobster boat out of the way. Energy Enterprise delivered its cargo. Everyone did their job and there was no hiccup in Brayton Point delivery of energy to its customers. If their goal was to send a message they succeeded. If their goal was to stop Brayton Point they failed. The court case was to punish them for breaking the law. While found not guilty they were made to pay $4,000. As the only expense was employing the salvager, I bet the local police had a net financial gain when all was done, and deservedly so.

  14. Rob Moir, Ph.D. Post author

    I mistakenly wrote “while found not guilty.” The case was dismissed so there was no finding. They plead guilty as charged to obstructing transport, disturbing the peace, and unlawful anchoring. By dropping the case they did not get the satisfaction of winning the case and still had to pay substantially. They lost their battle but believe they have advanced their cause.

  15. Sasha Samuels

    “Eaarth” with two “a’s” is the correct spelling of McKibben’s book. If there is only one book to read on climate change, this is the one – completely life changing/enlightening. The first half gives solid scientific evidence that climate change is not just theory, written in a way that is straight forward and for the average reader. The second half lists strategies we can all participate in to reverse the trajectory we’re on. I CANNOT RECOMMEND IT ENOUGH.

  16. Sasha Samuels

    For David – some updated info – solar panels actually do work on cloudy days – they are being used significantly in Germany, a country not exactly known for its sunshine. A friend installed them on her roof in Portland, Oregon, well known for its cloudy days – she will be able to generate all her electricity from them, even during the winter months. I highly recommend you fact check your information so that you don’t get caught looking foolish. Climate change does not care if one is Republican or Democrat. All the science points to it – it is no longer a theory, it is our reality. But you would have to research the science to know that. Good luck to you 🙂

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