Moving beyond coal within reach
It’s easy to say that converting the coal plant is not feasible at this time due to the poor economy, but how long will we wait? MSU has a responsibility to its students and the community to provide a healthy living environment, and times of economic difficulty should not halt the potential progress toward a more clean and green campus. Throughout the recent budget reconfigurations at the state and national level, environmental issues have remained an unshaken priority. MSU should also plan ahead in this respect and not remain stagnant when action is needed most.
In her State of the State address, Gov. Jennifer Granholm spoke about green energy jobs becoming part of Michigan’s post-auto industry economy. She said that we have, “unprecedented new resources to invest in the clean-energy sector of our economy; to build batteries, wind turbines and solar panels …” All of these renewable energy sources, in addition to biofuels and natural gas, could be used on campus to produce our heat and electricity. In fact, the T.B. Simon Power Plant was already converted to burning biofuels back in 2000, but it now only uses a small percent of that source compared to the 250,000 tons of coal burned each year. MSU can support the future of Michigan jobs by committing to using 100 percent clean energy, while also taking some of the emissions burden off of our environment.
While coal may be the cheapest energy source now, it won’t be for long. In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama urged the passing of a comprehensive energy and climate bill to make clean energy more profitable. He also has been discussing a carbon tax that would finally put a price on CO2 emissions and force the United States to pursue alternative energy sources. Ball State, which recently moved beyond coal, saves $2 million a year on net energy savings. This investment will only increase as the price of coal goes up. These changes reflect the urgency of the global warming issue, and MSU should respond now by converting our coal plant completely.
Will we continue to see our environment polluted and community hurt by the ill effects of coal? The actions of policy makers are saying, “No, we won’t wait.” Stopping the emissions of greenhouse gases in the pursuit of new energy sources has been clearly established as a goal for our state and country. The economy soon will reflect that as green jobs are created and the legislation is passed to keep that market successful. If MSU commits to moving beyond coal, it can lead the way into a green, thriving future for everyone.
no-preference freshman and alumni relations coordinator for MSU Beyond Coal