Bloomsburg University Students March Against Coal
On a sunny St. Patrick's Day, passionate Beyond Coal student leaders led a rally calling on President Soltz to 'think green' and move Bloomsburg University off of coal. Led by two purebred huskies representing the school's mascot, over 30 determined students chanted "Renew BU!" through campus, carrying signs and wearing bright yellow Beyond Coal t-shirts.
Bloomsburg University has a coal plant on campus, and students want to see a transition off of this dirty, outdated fuel toward a more socially responsible energy source.
Bloomsburg students called on President Soltz to make a commitment to move the campus off of coal to clean energy. The demonstration, led by the student group BU Beyond Coal, came at a time when Bloomsburg officials are debating energy plans that would affect the University’s energy use for years to come.
The university recently replaced a 58-year-old coal stoker with a wood-chip biomass boiler, thanks in part to a $500,000 Energy Harvest grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and work by Professor Nathaniel Greene from the Physics Department. However, the University still faces potentially expensive fines for using outdated, polluting coal technology, and gets the majority of its energy from coal, which students say it is time to change.
"This is our chance to make a difference so our community doesn't have to face the adverse health effects caused by a coal plant on our campus!' said Eve Steransky during an inspiring speech she and fellow Beyond Coal leader, Eli Tome gave, hyping up students prior to their powerful march to the University President's office.
During the march students stopped by the coal plant for a photo and delivered a sign to plant workers stating "Thank you for keeping us warm, let's work together to move beyond coal!"
Tome reinforced this gesture by saying, "We think it is important to work with the University on this transition." Students want to ensure there to be no more investment in this dirty, outdated energy source. Last year, part of the plant was upgraded from a 58 year-old coal stoker to a wood-chip biomass boiler, which is an "improvement but we want to finish the job," said Steransky.
After a demonstration in front of the President's office, students wrote notes to Soltz asking him to make a commitment to transition off of coal as soon as possible. Soltz is meeting with students to discuss the future of energy at the coal plant this week where they hope he will publicly commit to a transition.
The rally came to an end with a moving speech by Tome, "Every day we breathe in toxic emissions created here on our own campus. As students, we have the power to demand a change that no longer endangers the health of the Bloomsburg Community!"
-- by BU student Erin Poserina, parts of which are cross-posted on the Sierra Student Coalition blog