MU students seek coal-free campus
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Student activists at the University of Missouri are taking their fight for a coal-free campus to the school's Board of Curators.
The Coal Free Mizzou student group wants university leaders to commit to using renewable energy to completely power the campus by 2015. They plan a coal-free demonstration on Thursday when the university system's governing board begins its two-day meeting on the Columbia campus.
Students say Missouri has an obligation to stop burning coal because it has a detrimental effect on human health and the environment. The school used more than 48,000 tons of coal to generate electricity in 2007, accounting for 80 percent of campus energy use.
The students' effort is part of a national Sierra Club campaign that focuses on coal use at U.S. universities.
"I have really high hopes for this university," said Sierra Club organizer Lindsey Berger of St. Louis, a recent Missouri State University graduate. "If our university can't lead on this front, how can we expect our state to follow? Everybody looks at universities for leadership and innovation."
Berger said those innovators include the system's Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, where a planned geothermal energy project financed by $32.4 million in curator-approved revenue bonds is expected to replace the campus' 67-year-old power plant and immediately save $1.4 million in annual energy and operational costs.
The Sierra Club cites 17 other campuses nationwide that have agreed since 2009 to move "beyond coal," including the University of Minnesota, Ohio University, Clemson, Cornell, Penn State and North Carolina.
University of Missouri officials on Wednesday touted the school's existing clean-energy efforts, though they stopped short of endorsing a broader move away from coal.
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