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Environmentalist group protests AMP-Ohio; protesters arrested

An environmental activist group protested American Municipal Power of Ohio just off of 1-670 in Columbus Monday. The group said AMP-Ohio, which is planning several coal-fired projects in southern Ohio, is "making a bad decision for its member communities."

About 75 protesters stood behind police lines chanting and holding signs that read "no new coal plants" and "coal is a bad deal." The group called Earth First!, which travels the country protesting coal-fired power plants, is against AMP-Ohio's plan to build what it calls a clean coal-fired power plant in Meigs County.

"There's no such thing as clean coal," Panagioti Tsolkas said.

Tsolkas from Florida travels with Earth First!.

"I think our obligation right now as humans on the planet is to step up to the challenge of climate change and of the mass industrial expansion and actually stop it and push for sustainability. And it doesn't come by just asking for it," he said.

In what the group called a civil disobedience act, several members of Earth First! entered AMP-Ohio's lobby and handcuffed themselves together while two other participants climbed the company's flag poles.

AMP-Ohio spokesperson Jolene Thompson said their lobby was trashed.

"Well it certainly scared our staff. Unreasonable for them to bust through our doors, break our doors, scare our receptionist. It certainly disrupted business. That's what they were hoping to do," Thompson said.

Contrary to the protesters, Thompson said the coal-fired power plant proposal in Meigs County is cleaner than most.

"This project has an air permit from the state of Ohio. It's been widely supported by the folks who understand those sorts of things. We're using an ammonia scrubbing technology on it that is allowing us to get more benefits, landfill less," she said.

Columbus Police said they arrested eight people and used mace on about six protesters. Earth First! claims police used Tasers on some group members. Columbus Police say no one was Tased.