Quantcast

Students Take Action Nationwide to Move Campuses Beyond Coal

Energy

Sierra Club

Students at Virginia Tech, Purdue University, Bates College in Maine and the University of Illinois kicked off a nationwide month of creative actions focused on moving America’s campuses beyond coal. The coordinated effort 100% Clean: 100 Actions for Clean Energy aims to unite local efforts into a nationwide movement to retire university coal plants, cut university ties with the coal industry and move the nation’s institutions of higher education to clean energy solutions.

“We have students on our campus who are getting sick from breathing coal dust coming from the campus coal plant across the street from their dorm. This is unacceptable. We want Virginia Tech and universities nationwide to be leading the way towards an innovative, healthy and clean energy future, not stuck in the past relying on dirty coal,” said Kara Dodson, a senior at Virginia Tech and coordinator of the Campuses Beyond Coal campaign on campus.

Since the Sierra Club launched the national Campuses Beyond Coal campaign, 16 schools have already committed to retiring their coal-fired plants on campus. Pollution from these plants is responsible for dangerous pollution including mercury, carbon dioxide, arsenic and lead, and can lead to more severe asthma attacks, bronchial infections and cancer.

More than 150 students from across Virginia rallied at Virginia Tech wearing face masks and green hard hats at the Virginia Power Shift summit on Sunday. They called on the university administration to live up to their motto—Invent the Future—by retiring the campus coal plant that poses a health hazard to students.

Speakers included a student who lived in Thomas Hall, a dorm next door to the Virginia Tech coal plant, showing off a black soot covered towel she used to wipe down her window sill. Other students keep air filters in their windows to keep the coal dust out of their homes, but still struggle with the light and noise from the plant on a daily basis that can make it difficult to sleep or study.

“Every year a new group of students are subject to the pollution from this plant and others like it on campuses across the country. It’s time for our universities to step up and lead the way to moving our nation beyond coal and dirty energy to real clean energy solutions,” said Madeline Rigatti, a sophomore at Virginia Tech and former Thomas Hall resident. “Students like me have had to live with being sick because we had the bad luck of living near this plant and it’s simply wrong.”

“Students are leading the way pushing their universities to invest in innovative clean energy solutions. This month of action demonstrates the growing momentum on college campuses to move our nation off dirty, 19th century fuels that are making people sick. Coal, and the soot, smog and other pollution that comes from it impacts Americans across the country. We think that students can help reinvent the American economy by pressuring our administrations to invest in clean, safe and reliable energy on campuses from California to Connecticut,” said Kim Teplitzky, Campuses Beyond Coal campaign coordinator for the Sierra Club.

Over the next four weeks students will be hosting flash mobs, 60’s dance parties, camp outs, rallies, art builds, call-in days and more to call attention to the public health risk of depending on dirty energy in their campuses and communities. At the end of the month student leaders will bring the stories and photos from these events to Washington, D.C. to deliver to the Obama administration demanding further action to protect public health.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Bumblebees flying and pollinating a creeping thyme flower. emeliemaria / iStock / Getty Images

It pays to pollinate in Minnesota.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of icebergs on Arctic Ocean in Greenland. Explora_2005 / iStock / Getty Images

The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Sled dog teams pull researchers from the Danish Meteorological Institute through meltwater on the Greenland ice sheet in early June, 2019. Danish Meteorological Institute / Steffen M. Olsen

By Jon Queally

In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.

Read More Show Less
CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

Read More Show Less
Members of the NY Renews coalition gathered before New York lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act. NYRenews / Twitter

By Julia Conley

Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
In this picture taken on June 4, an Indian boatman walks amid boats on the dried bed of a lake at Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, on the eve of World Environment Day. Sam Panthaky / AFP / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.

Read More Show Less
A man carries a poster in New York City during the second annual nationwide March For Science on April 14, 2018. Kena Betancur / Getty Images

By Will J. Grant

In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.

People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.

Read More Show Less

YinYang / E+ / Getty Images

In a blow to the Trump administration, the Supreme Court ruled Monday to uphold a Virginia ban on mining uranium, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less