From The State News at Michigan State University where SSCrs helped pass a student government resolution to move MSU beyond coal-
by Laura Fosmire published January 31, 2010
On campus environmental organizations MSU Greenpeace and the Sierra Student Coalition are encouraging the university to live up to its slogan of sustainability.
The groups helped pass a resolution through ASMSU’s Student Assembly last Thursday encouraging the university to abandon its use of coal at the T.B. Simon Power Plant.
ASMSU is MSU’s undergraduate student government.
Talya Tavor is president of MSU Beyond Coal, a campaign sponsored by the Sierra Student Coalition. She said other Big Ten schools — including the University of Illinois and Penn State University — already have made commitments to transition to renewable energy sources.
“Our goal is to get the university to make a public commitment to transition off of coal to 100 percent renewable energy,” she said.
Tavor said the consequences of burning coal can be extremely dangerous.
“After you burn coal, it produces coal ash,” she said. “It’s one of the most hazardous byproducts of this day and age. It’s scary because it’s not regulated at all. Household trash has more regulations on it than coal ash.”
Adam Liter, vice president of MSU Greenpeace, said solar or wind energy might be a more viable alternative.
“We want something that doesn’t contribute to health problems and won’t contribute to climate change,” he said. “Something that’s sustainable.”
Using alternative fuel sources also will save the university money, Tavor said.
“Recently, (President Barack) Obama said he wants to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, so solar energy and wind energy will be less expensive,” Tavor said.
“It’s kind of a domino effect. The more you invest in it, the cheaper it gets.”
ASMSU’s Student Assembly Chairman Chris Schotten said a big reason the resolution was passed unanimously by the assembly was the amount of input the representatives received from their constituents.
“There was a tremendous outpouring of support from the student body to support alternative energy,” he said. “Regardless of a representative’s worldview, their primary responsibility is to represent the voice of their peers.”
Emily Dobson, a political theory and constitutional democracy senior, said anything that helps the environment is a good thing.
“But we have to weigh the pros and cons,” she said. “We need to make sure that we’re doing the right thing.”
She said passing a resolution through ASMSU was a good channel for the environmental organizations to use.
“I think the university does listen to ASMSU,” she said. “It does seem to be the most formal way for students to get their ideas and opinions heard.”