Monday, September 27, 2021

ASMSU proposed bill advocates for MSU to transition from fossil fuels to renewables

March 16, 2021
<p>Student Services building featuring the Associated Students of Michigan State University logo.</p>

Student Services building featuring the Associated Students of Michigan State University logo.

Photo by Lauren Snyder | The State News

ASMSU held several committee meetings on Thursday evening discussing many bills to be debated and voted on at the next General Assembly meeting.

There are three committees, Finance, Academic and Policy, all of which discussed their own agendas.

For the Finance Committee, New Business included Bill 57-107 Allocate Funds to Survivors General Fund. The Academic Committee looked at numerous bills such as Bill 57-106 STI Transmission in RVSM Policy and Bill 57-102 Advocate for a Tuition Freeze until 24-25.

The Policy Committee went over 18 proposed bills, one of which was Bill 57-89 Divest from Fossil Fuels. 

Bill 57-89 was introduced by College of Agricultural and Natural Resources Representative Blake Lajiness and College of Natural Sciences Representative Olivia Triltsch.

Representative Triltsch said that Bill 57-89 is the first step towards Bill 57-45, which committed ASMSU to declare a climate emergency and advocated that the University do the same.

Bill 57-45 was approved by the ASMSU General Assembly on December 10, 2020.

Bill 57-89 will advocate for Michigan State University to divest from fossil fuels. The MSU Energy Transition Plan and the MSU Energy Transition Steering Committee (ETSC) proposed that the university transition to 100% renewable energy.

A plan was composed and enacted by the MSU ETSC whereas energy supply and demand, creating new knowledge and strengthen partnerships, balancing capacity health, reliability, environment and cost were addressed.

According to Bill 57-89, MSU is currently involved in contracts with hedge fund companies, which invest roughly $49,600,000 of MSU’s money into the Marathon Petroleum Corporation. Many of the hedge fund contracts that MSU is involved in typically last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, and sometimes longer. Meaning MSU will have money invested at the discretion of these hedge funds for the next several years as the contracts the university last entered into were in 2016.

The Marathon Petroleum Refinery in Detroit contributes heavily to one of the most polluted zip codes in Michigan, which is also mentioned in the bill.

“Needless to say, MSU has tons of money being invested in a place that is not for the betterment of students,” Representative Lajiness said. “There’s a large chunk of students that come from Southeast Michigan, so it’s just disproportionately affecting communities of color, as well as students of color that come to MSU.”

Although there is currently no set date for MSU’s Energy Transition Plan, a plan to transition from fossil fuels to renewables, is to be executed. Nonetheless, Lajiness said that the effort should still be pushed to make sure that the ETSC is held accountable for the plan.

College of Social Science Representative Julian Trevino echoed Representative Triltsch that Bill 57-89 is another step that will guide MSU in the right direction to battle the climate emergency that MSU needs to continue addressing the climate emergency.

Bill 57-89 will be reintroduced by the ASMSU Department of Sustainability every four sessions starting in 2024-25 in order to keep the bill standing policy until MSU is no longer investing in fossil fuels.

Universities across the United States, including other Big Ten colleges like the University of Michigan, have either successfully divested from or are currently advocating for the divestment from fossil fuels.

“I think this is something important that we should hop on because it will definitely put us (MSU) in the right direction of having a more sustainable campus overall,” Triltsch said.

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