by BU Beyond Coal leader Erin Poserina
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. BU is home to a campus coal plant, which students are concerned is ruining the air and water quality and putting their community in danger.
“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.” Due to the new EPA regulations, coal plants across the country will face costly upgrades to meet the EPA standards. Students want to ensure there to be no more investment in this dirty, outdated energy source.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 next 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!”