Across the bay from the B.L. England Generating Station, at a dock on Tennessee Avenue in Ocean City, members of the Sierra Club, concerned residents and represententatives from the Atlantic County Utilities Authority gathered on Saturday morning for a "Roll Beyond Coal" 15-mile bike ride.
The ride started across from the plant, and the bicyclists ended their ride by the wind turbines in Atlantic City, symbolically moving from the energy source the club considers outdated to a new energy source, windmills.
"Nature is just being decimated," said Sierra Club member Georgiana Shanley. "Why should we be a party to this?"
Shanley is also one of the founders of Citizens United For Renewable Energy, or CURE, a local grassroots organization.
Rick Dovey, the president of ACUA, spoke at the event.
"We can dramatically increase the portion of our energy that comes from renewables," he said. "This is about emissions. No one would go up and put their mouth on a tail pipe; we drive around and we take that for granted."
Dovey drove an ACUA-owned Nissan Leaf to event. The car runs completely on electricity, does not use any gas and does not even have a tailpipe.
Dovey said that not only should residents be concerned about renewable energy sources with regard to power plants, but also about their own forms of transportation. He said that 50 percent of energy use in New Jersey comes from transportation.
As for renewable energy, Dovey said that "New Jersey has a unique opportunity to be at the ground floor...to build new jobs, research and development...why not here? It's the ideal place."
According to a chart that Dovey was handing out at the event, Atlantic County has saved approximately two million dollars per year since 2008 by using landfill gas, solar energy and wind energy.
Sierra Club organizer Christine Guhl took the lead for the event and was pumping up the cyclists with some call and response chants before they took off for the ride.
"B.L. England is producing millions of tons of carbon pollution every year and making the people of South Jersey sick. Coal plants like this one are the energy source of the past. Now it's time for a clean energy future," she said in a release handed out before the ride.
Dovey said that ACUA's facilities in Egg Harbor Township are now running completely on renewable sources of energy, while in Atlantic City the figure stands around 70 percent.
"We have a bright future...we appreciate what you're doing today to support renewable energy," he said before the ride began.
On Thursday, the a resolution which urges B.L. England to comply with federal pollution standards. The Sierra Club will be heading to Trenton on Tuesday to urge Governor Chris Christie to enforce the Clean Energy Act and not to allow B.L. England to be given an extension with regard to meeting federal standards.
For more information of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, see their Beyond Coal website.