Article ID: CBB243007913

Rural Revolt: Power Line Protests and the Alternative Technology Movement in the United States, 1970s (January 2021)


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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Authors & Contributors
Capozzola, Christopher
Caskey, John F.
Charles Blanchard
Burks, Marie Elizabeth
Michael Degani
Ronan Bolton
The Bridge: Journal of the National Academy of Engineering
Technology and Culture
Social Studies of Science
Science Technology and Society
Physics in Perspective
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Harvard University Press
Springer Nature
University of Pittsburgh Press
University of Alabama Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Duke University Press
Electric power industry
Energy resources and technologies
Electric utilities
Protest movements
Electric Power Transmission
Technology and government
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century, early
United States
Minnesota (U.S.)
California (U.S.)
Dar Es Salaam
Tanzania (Tanganyika, Zanzibar)
Scandinavia; Nordic countries
New Deal (1933-1939)
European Community (EC)
Science Museum of Minnesota
Pavek Museum of Broadcasting (St. Louis Park, Minn.)
Bakken Library and Museum (Minneapolis)

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