Students campaign for 100 percent renewable energy
Members of MSU Greenpeace discuss the group’s thoughts on MSU’s Energy Transition Plan.
Editor’s note: This is part of a package titled “Keeping campus greener on both sides.” To read about Office of Campus Sustainability director Jennifer Battle and the progress of the Energy Transition Plan, click here.
Bundled in her striped wool mittens, printed scarf and foggy glasses, Laura Drotar stood poised with her clipboard, battling the weather while fighting for the environment.
On Friday afternoon near the rock on Farm Lane, the history, philosophy and sociology of science sophomore petitioned beside other members of MSU Greenpeace and Paulie the polar bear, asking passing students to sign a petition to expedite and better clarify MSU’s Energy Transition Plan.
The plan passed by the Board of Trustees last spring listed a commitment to begin to move toward running on 100 percent renewable energy.
But Drotar and other members of MSU Greenpeace don’t believe the plan is as aggressive as it needs to be, she said.
Hospitality management freshman Cameron Armstrong stands with physics junior Paul Matouka dressed as a polar bear at a petition for MSU Greenpeace on Feb. 8, 2013, at the rock on Farm Lane. MSU Greenpeace discussed environmental issues on campus.
Drotar, the campus coordinator of MSU Greenpeace, said flaws include no solid definition of clean energy or a set date for reaching 100 percent renewable energy, and the plan’s goals need to be updated and revised more frequently.
Currently, a goal is to reach 15 percent renewable energy by 2015 and 40 percent renewable energy by 2030, according to the plan. There is no set timeline to reach 100 percent renewable energy. So far, MSU has increased renewable energy by 2 percent.
“It’s great that our institution has made a commitment to get to 100 percent clean energy, but we have some major concerns with the actual plan,” Drotar said.
“We want them to make (a) more concrete commitment to clean energy.”
Jennifer Battle, director of the Office of Campus Sustainability, said the goals are on track to be met.
She also said the plan’s definition of clean energy is in line with the state of Michigan’s, with the addition of thermal energy.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Michigan’s definition of renewable energy includes biomass, wind, geothermal energy, solar and solar thermal technologies, among many others.
Psychology senior Michael Tiura, the events and actions coordinator of MSU Greenpeace, said the group has been gathering signatures for more than three years and believes there is resistance because MSU has a reliable powerplant.
“In Scotland, the whole country is going to be 100 percent renewable on wind and solar by 2020,” Tiura said.
“So, it’s definitely doable for our campus in the next 20 years or so.”
Wearing a polar bear hat, education freshman Nicole Busch stopped to sign the petition Friday afternoon.
“I’m wearing a polar bear hat and there’s someone dressed as a polar bear — it’s also something I believe in,” Busch said.