Club Sponsors Clean Energy Match-Ups at Indiana and Kentucky
The first Clean Energy Match-Up, on January 12, featured Big Ten rivals Indiana and Minnesota. The second is January 17 in Lexington, KY, pitting Kentucky against its Southeastern Conference rival Arkansas.
That's Club Conservation Director Sarah Hodgdon, at center above with basketball, at Indiana's Jan. 12 home game against Minnesota. (Note the Sierra Club logo in the background at courtside.) Below, Hoosier fans show their support for clean energy.
Both Indiana and Kentucky have coal-burning power plants right on campus. The Clean Energy Match-Ups connect the wildly popular basketball programs at both universities to the idea that dirty on-campus coal-fired power plants need to be replaced by clean, affordable energy for the health of players, students, and community members.
"Aging coal plants on campus release pollutants like mercury, arsenic, lead, and sulfut dioxide into the air and water," says Quentin James, national director of the Sierra Student Coalition. "Instead of polluting their own campuses and endangering the health of their students, schools like Indiana and Kentucky should be the nation's leaders—investing in innovative clean energy technologies for the 21st century."
The first Clean Energy Match-Up featured heavily-favored Indiana, ranked #8 in the nation at the time, and Minnesota, losers of four straight games. But in a hotly-contested game that wasn't decided until the final minute, Minnesota's Golden Gophers pulled an upset, squeaking past Indiana 77-74 on the Hoosiers' home court in Bloomington.
Below, a contingent of Hoosier partisans are all smiles. (Given the result, chances are the photo was snapped before the game.)
More than 60 universities operate their own coal plants on campus, posing a health threat to students and the surrounding communities. Below, a contingent of Sierra Student Coalition activists brave rainy conditions to show their support for retiring the Indiana University Central Heating Plant, which burns 68,000 tons of coal per year.
Coal-Free IU last week conducted a three-day campaign to alert students to the dangers of having coal on campus. Student activists spelled out the words "no coal" in an aerial art display in front of the campus coal plant, and students delivered bundles of petitions containing more than 50,000 signatures to IU President Michael McRobbie.
"On more than 40 campuses around the country, over 40,000 students have joined the campaign to make sure their school switch to clean energy," says Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign. "College students have been at the forefront of every major social movement in recent history and the drive to move our nation beyond coal toward safe, renewable solutions is no different."
At the University of Kentucky, controversy erupted when the Board of Trustees renamed the men's basketball dormatory the Wildcat Coal Lodge in return for $7 million from the coal industry. The move was spearheaded by Alliance Coal President and CEO Joe Craft. Watch the video below from the Rachel Maddow Show to learn more.
The move prompted author, farmer, academic, community activist, native Kentuckian, and UK graduate Wendell Berry to pull his papers from the university's archives in protest.
The Sierra Club's move to link the school's basketball program with clean energy came after the coal industry sponsored three UK athletic events earlier this school year.
"In a state that has so many politial issues that push people apart, UK basketball is one thing that really brings people together," says UK senior Patrick Johnson. "I grew up in rural Kentucky as a Wildcats basketball fan and now as a student I'm working to make sure UK is a real leader by investing in clean energy that will create good jobs here in Kentucky. I couldn't be happier to see two things so important to me come together with the Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Up here in Kentucky."