Students and Administration look toward a clean energy future for Ohio University
Two days ago, the Ohio University administration announced its intent to cancel plans for a brand new gas plant that would have cost the university upwards of $75-100 million and locked the university into a 50-year contract with the natural gas industry. This comes on the heels of years of student organizing against dirty fuels that threaten public health and contribute to climate disruption.
In 2009, students at Ohio University launched a campaign to stop burning coal on campus. They were among thousands of students on campuses across the country engaged in the Sierra Student Coalition's Campuses Beyond Coal Campaign, which aims to retire the more than 60 on-campus coal plants across the country.
After a successful two year long student-led campaign that brought together more than 2,000 students, Ohio University’s Administration announced their commitment to stop burning coal on campus.
In large part thanks to grassroots student organizing like that of the Ohio students, Ohio University is one of 24 universities in the country to announce the end to coal use on campus. To date, more than a third of the nation’s on-campus coal plants have been retired or are slated for retirement -- including recent announcements from University of Cincinnati and Wooster College.
While the University's choice to move beyond coal was certainly a commitment to protect the health of its students and the climate, the University began planning for a transition to natural gas, another fossil fuel that contributes to climate disruption, air, and water pollution.
So the students continued their call for clean energy solutions. A project from the Ohio University Sierra Student Coalition, Bobcats Beyond Gas, stepped in to organize against the proposal for a new natural gas plant.
On June 17th, Bobcats Beyond Gas celebrated a decision by their Board of Trustees and Department of Facilities to discontinue the construction of the proposed natural gas plant.
The University's most recent announcement is a testament to the ongoing hard work of the Ohio University Sierra Student Coalition and their many supporters. The students have reason to celebrate their incredible accomplishments from the past five years, and to celebrate this opportunity to collaborate with their Administration for 100% clean energy.
Now, the University must continue an aggressive transition off of fossil fuels and onto 100% clean energy.
Campuses do not need to continue to purchase dirty energy that makes students sick and destroys the environment; rather, universities have a moral obligation to their students and the larger community to lead in the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
--Anastasia Schemkes, campaign representative for the Sierra Student Coalition