MSU coal plant should own up to violations

As MSU proceeds in paying a $27,000 penalty fee for emissions violations, the university will continue its coal-burning methods with a few new regulations.

The violations involved an improper blending of coal that resulted in excess sulfur dioxide emissions and burning wet coal that produced excess nitrogen oxide emissions.

MSU also will be required to correct two violations of its renewable operating permit, as required by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, or DNRE. Proper steps were taken in caring for the emissions when the university reported the first sign of infractions to the Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, which originally handled the infraction.

Editorial Board

Jacob Carpenter
Dan Faas
Pat Evans
David Barker
Parker Wilson

Although the offense was an unfortunate break of guidelines made to protect the environment, the university can’t see this as a call to go 100 percent eco-friendly. It has been displayed that the university is making the corrections to the functions of its coal-burning facility to meet guidelines. The minor slipup in an otherwise well-functioning facility has caused MSU student groups to call for the university to go coal free. Although a greener method of producing power would be ideal, it is very hard to reach that goal. The university still is very dependent on coal, as are most all energy-dependent civilizations. Such an abrupt switch of energy dependence simply is unreasonable.

MSU’s obvious consciousness and consideration of the violation has shown its effort to provide the most efficient and environmentally friendly energy available. They have discontinued relations with the vendor that sold them “bad coal,” which was cause for the violations. The coal was purchased by MSU’s coal plant, but now that the relationship is severed, the coal plant hopefully is more environmentally safe.

After the penalties are paid and the corrections are made, the university can move forward with meeting emission guidelines. MSU seemingly has been very compliant with the protocol of dealing with such a violation, and it seems there will be no inconsistency with such compliance.

Because the university is not required to just pay the fine, but is required to change the function of the facility, the violation won’t be forgotten. If anything good comes from this violation, it should be that MSU becomes more environmentally cautious. As the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, raises the bar on its guidelines, requiring more energy efficient methods of producing energy, MSU can and should continue to meet the guidelines and stay on par with universities across the nation.

It is obvious the university has taken the situation very seriously. The corresponding penalties, which include a $1,000 late fee every day the penalty fee is not paid, show that this kind of violation is unacceptable for a coal plant. It would be ideal if MSU made efforts to move beyond coal energy in the future, but we as a university and culture are too reliant on it at this point in time to make a drastic change.

Once the plant has bounced back from the violations and made the appropriate corrections, MSU will be able to move on from the mistakes and continue meeting EPA guidelines.

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