MSU Greenpeace started a year and a half ago with just one student, Max Johnson. Max had a vision for bringing Greenpeace to campus to fight the University’s dirty, dangerous on-campus coal plant – which consumes 250,000 tons of coal PER YEAR! Today, MSU Greenpeace is a movement on campus. Organizing protests at Board of Trustees meetings, leading marches, mobilizing the students and community, and now that their call for 100 percent renewable energy on campus is being heard!
Just weeks ago, MSU Greenpeace and MSU Beyond Coal teamed up to support a student government resolution calling on the University to switch to renewable energy! The resolution passed unanimously, mainly due to the overwhelming support from students, who, like you and me know that dirty fossil fuels are poisoning our air, water, cooking our planet, and incredibly expensive – now confirmed by a Harvard study. As students continue to raise their voices, the administration is starting to listen.
Yesterday, MSU Greenpeace members met with Michigan State President Lou Anna K. Simon to discuss their concerns about the campus coal plant. Four student leaders in the group met with President Simon: Tabitha Skervin, Adam Liter, Justine Becker, and Stephen Riccardi.
During their meeting MSU Greenpeace thanked President Simon for her recent steps toward a renewable energy future. Justine asked President Simon what her views were on renewable energy. President Simon agreed that coal and natural gas are NOT the solution Michigan State needs, but she explained that wind and solar are not an option because the campus is so large. She is open to renewable energy as more opportunities arise.
While that’s fantastic news, students are wondering why President Simon doesn’t simply create energy solutions by investing heavily in wind and solar energy research at Michigan State. The University is looking into an anaerobic digestion for powering its farms; however, it needs to think bigger. Create a space race mentality to secure millions in funding from statewide grants, renewable energy firms, and alumni donations. Not only will this create the solutions needed for campus, it will put Michigan State on the map internationally for its pioneering efforts and provide students with the experience and knowledge needed to compete in the burgeoning renewable energy job market.
The students were surprised to learn that President Simon is considering nuclear as an energy solution for Michigan State. Nuclear is a dangerous form of energy that has no place on a college campus.
While students were pleased to have the meeting, they want President Simon to lead the charge developing solutions to shut down the campus coal plant and replace it with 100 percent renewable energy. Not in 20 years, but today. Here’s Justine she said:
I love attending Michigan State, but with the university relying on the burning of coal as it's energy source, I can't help but feel like I am negatively contributing to the environment just by taking classes here. If MSU transitioned to 100% renewable energy, the students wouldn't have to be guilty because of the University's dirty habits and would instead get to be a part of the clean energy revolution.
The administration is walking in the right direction, but now it needs to sprint toward a renewable energy future.
Next week, MSU Greenpeace is teaming up with MSU Beyond Coal and MSU Eco to host a week of action: Raising the Turbine! They will reenact the famous scene of Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, but instead of an American flag they're raising a large wind turbine. RSVP here to help Raise the Turbine. This week of action is gearing up for two important events next week:
- A massive Power Shift 2011 registration party Wednesday, Febraury 23rd at 8pm in 305 Bessey Hall on MSU's campus. RSVP here.
- Michigan State’s first ever Energy Steering Committee meeting on Friday, February 25th.
Next week, students will continue to rally support for 100 percent renewable energy, mobilizing students to attend Power Shift 2011 and set the stage for the Energy Steering Committee to move the University away from dirty energy and toward the clean, renewable energy future students and our planet deserve. Thanks for starting this movement Max. Onward and upward we go!
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