A Bourne man will stand trial for standing up for his belief that society needs to stop burning coal in power plants.
Jonathan (Jay) D. O’Hara, 32, who is a member of the Bourne School Committee, was received a citation1 last year after he and another man used a lobster boat to block a coal freighter from reaching the Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset.
“I am not an activist, I am a citizen,” Mr. O’Hara said. “If scientists are telling us that the burning of fossil fuels creates a planet that is not capable of supporting civilization by the end of the century, what are we supposed to do with that information?”
“There are a number of layers to our reasons for doing what we did but the fact is that Massachusetts needs to stop burning coal and it needs to set the tone for the rest of the country to stop burning it also,” Mr. O’Hara said.
“We don’t have a modern idea of what citizen action should look like. The revolutionaries were not activists. They were ordinary citizens managing families and households but they also saw the need to stand up for their rights. Blocking the freighter was the right thing to do,” Mr. O’Hara said.
The freighter was blocked for eight hours on May 15, 2013. Mr. O’Hara and Ken Ward, another environmentally concerned citizen, used a lobster boat to keep the 400,000-ton freighter from docking at the plant’s pier in protest of the coal that was destined for burning in the Brayton Point plant.
Mr. O’Hara and Mr. Ward’s trial at the Fall River Justice Center was originally set for May 15 but has been postponed and a date has yet to be determined.
Mr. O’Hara contends that the government’s inaction to the problem does not match up to the scientific warnings. “We have to take action to inform the public. A mass movement of change is what is needed,” Mr. O’Hara said.
Mr. O’Hara and Mr. Ward have worked together to create change before.
In 2009, Mr. O'Hara1 founded a program called Climate Summer, an internship program that puts teams of college and graduate students on bicycles to tour New England towns and meet with community leaders to craft local solutions and alternatives to the use of fossil fuels. That program is in its sixth year.
Mr. O’Hara leads a simple Quaker life by choice. It was a choice he made after graduating from Falmouth Academy1 in 2000, while attending Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, a liberal arts school founded by Quakers.
His personal effort to reduce the use of fossil fuels is witnessed in his conviction to ride a bicycle instead of drive a car. He only works to pay for the things he needs. His passion is to help the environment for future generations.
“I don’t consider myself a role model. The most important change that anybody can make is to make the decision that your life and time on Earth matters and asking what is it I want my life to stand for? Not everyone is called to do the same thing. Not everyone was called to be on that lobster boat. People have different gifts to give and different roles to play. The trick is finding that role,” Mr. O’Hara said.
1 Corrections: Mr. O’Hara was not arrested, he received a citation for blocking a coal freighter from reaching the Brayton Point Power Station. Coal is not burned at Plymouth. The Pilgrim plant is nuclear powered. Ken Ward was not involved in the founding of Climate Summer, and Mr. O’Hara is a graduate of Falmouth Academy, not Bourne High School.