MSU’s coal use affects well-being
Students and young people have been at the forefront of every major social justice movement in recent history — and now we are leading the fight for clean energy. Thanks to student efforts, 16 universities across the country have committed to move beyond coal — a dangerous, outdated energy source.
MSU has the responsibility to join five other Big Ten schools (University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Penn State University, Purdue University and Ohio State University) and lead the nation by retiring the largest on-campus coal plant in the United States.
Last Friday, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon released a statement on MSU’s energy transition plan in which she wrote about doing the “right thing” regarding MSU’s energy future. Unfortunately, “doing the right thing” included belittling the 8,000 students who have come out in opposition to burning an energy source that continues to poison the Spartan community.
Everyone who is against something is for something. I am against burning more than 200,000 tons of coal on campus every year because I am for a truly sustainable clean energy future powered by wind, solar and geothermal sources.
I am against releasing mercury, arsenic, lead and selenium into the air within a 600-mile radius of the TB Simon coal plant because I am for a healthy community that doesn’t worry about the 37 deaths that occur annually in Ingham County as a direct result of coal pollution, according to the Clean Air Task Force.
President Simon has the power to make history in moving MSU beyond dirty, dangerous coal to 100 percent clean energy solutions.
Students already are driving the movement to build a strong 21st century economy that creates jobs and protects public health. MSU can move to 100 percent clean energy solutions like wind, solar and geothermal, to become a true leader in the nation. The alternatives exist; this is not a technological issue, it is a matter of political will.
We are at a cusp, we are at an edge, at a boundary, at a cliff. The story of our generation is to either fall or fly.
The question that remains is this: will President Simon let us fall? Or will she write a legacy by pushing MSU to fly towards a healthy clean energy future?
Tori Wong, MSU Beyond Coal organizer, Sierra Student Coalition member