While many students are still unpacking boxes, finding new classroom buildings and trying to find the cheapest text books possible, student organizers at more than 35 schools are kicking off their Campuses Beyond Coal campaigns with a bang.
Great media htis this week from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale where the EcoDawgs are launching a new campaign and Michigan State University with a letter-to-the-editor showing that their 1.5 year effort isn't going anywhere until they win.
MSU should focus on renewable energy
We should all take a moment to celebrate. We have successfully navigated Welcome Week, syllabus week, and we won our first football game!
One of the biggest things we can celebrate this year is possibility.
MSU has the nation’s largest on-campus coal plant, and it’s possible a plan could be signed this year to move us to 100 percent renewable energy — that is if MSU’s Board of Trustees will stand with the nearly 6,000 student petitions, (1 out of 10 students on campus); faculty and East Lansing community members who support a 100% renewable energy future. Fact: The MSU Power Plant burns 600 tons of dirty, dangerous and outdated coal every day. Consider this: If the Board of Trustees stood with the MSU Beyond Coal Campaign and demand a 100 percent renewable energy future, we would set a nationwide standard.
In Virginia, the largest coal plant in the state announced its closing last week. This step forward opened the door to where else? Possibility. Directly after, two more of Virginia’s largest plants announced they will be closing their doors within a few years, and more plants also are expected to fall to the force of the real possibility of clean energy.
What is going on in Virginia could happen on a national scale if the Board of Trustees can show it believes anything is possible from Spartans by demanding a plan for 100 percent renewable energy from the administration’s Steering Committee.
America’s clean energy future is waiting on us, Michigan State.
Mollie VanOrsdol, MSU Beyond Coal spokesperson, English and education sophomore
RSOs raise awareness for dirty energy
Sean Meredith | Daily Egyptian
Southern Illinois University Carbondale is the last university in Illinois with an active coal plant that does not plan to shut down.
William Sutphin, secretary for the SIUC Environmental Coalition and former president of Eco Dawgs, said the coalition and the Registered Student Organization launched a campaign earlier this year to pressure the university to create a plan to shut down the coal plant in the near future.
“We want to get the university to agree that the coal plant will be shut down and to replace it with other forms of renewable energy,” said Sutphin, a graduate student in geography from Bartlett. The plant is located on State Highway 51 and produces 14 percent of the university’s annual electricity supply, according to the plant and service operations website.
Ruby Roknic, President of Eco Dawgs, said the RSO’s primary focus is to educate students on the effects of dirty energy, such as coal, versus clean energy options, such as solar or wind power.
Roknic, a sophomore from La Grange Park studying civil engineering, said this is important so the university can shift to a clean energy path.
Coal plants negatively affect the environment by causing effects such as increased mercury levels in lakes that prevent people from fishing or even swimming in them, said Cheyenne Adams, a member of Eco Dawgs.
Adams, a sophomore from Bloomington studying zoology, said the group will focus this semester on other impacts the coal plant has on the university besides providing power, such as the adverse health effects on students from having a coal plant on campus.
“Our electricity for the campus is purchased from Ameren, but that uses mostly coal and nuclear powered energy,” Adams said. “I think our best bet as to what sustainable energy to use on campus would be to buy a clean energy, such as solar power.”
Bryan Johnsrud, a worker for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in the Abandoned Mined Lands Division, said he spoke on the environmental impact of mining and burning coal at a recent event held by the organization.
“There are a number of educational items put out and information that is generally skewed towards a kind of pro-coal or pro-energy approach,” he said.
Johnsrud said the topic he spoke about was based on his belief that there is no such thing as clean coal. He said he wants people to understand how fossil fuels, including coal, can cost the people who use them.
Eco Dawgs’ primary goal for the year is to attend an environmental convention called Power Shift, which focuses on organizational training, at the end of October, he said.
The group also plans to participate in a nationwide action against dirty energy and wants to organize students on campus for the October event.
“We need to start having a sustainable lifestyle now if we want to have a future,” Adams said.