Abstract

abstract:

In the 1970s, powerline protests erupted across rural communities in the United States. Just as a global movement of environmentalists, farmers, and activists fought expansive energy infrastructures, many rural Americans living in the transportation corridors of the electric-grid system directly confronted the political, social, and environmental costs of cheap electricity. This article revisits three well-known powerline protests in the United States—in western Minnesota, Appalachian Ohio, and upstate New York. It argues that rural protestors, by resisting capital-intensive technological growth in the countryside, proved highly receptive to the era's alternative technology movement. The protests show how the alternative technology movement and its democratic vision spread and transmuted within mainstream American culture. Rural communities, leery of large-scale corporate and government control, helped advance renewable energy politics and challenged the "utility consensus" of the American electric power industry. Grassroots revolts blended populist politics with global critiques to make environmental ethics agreeable to rural constituencies.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1097-3729
Print ISSN
0040-165X
Pages
pp. 1-26
Launched on MUSE
2021-03-04
Open Access
No
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