Beyond Coal Has Reasonable Goals

26 03 2010

This is a response to the letter written by Greg Stecher, “Beyond Coal unrealistic” (CT, March 23).

He wrote that Beyond Coal’s goal to reduce emissions to between 60-70 parts per billion is unrealistic. I want to make it clear that this ozone limit is not an arbitrary level that the campaign came up with. This is the level that the EPA is proposing based on the recommendations of doctors and scientists.

Using an ill-formulated analogy, Stecher also claimed that the current average level of ozone, 80 ppb, is “an extremely low amount of emissions.” Yes, the concentration of ozone is relatively small compared to other components of air — but shouldn’t we really be looking at the effects of that concentration of ozone?

Research shows that between 4,000-12,000 premature deaths will be avoided yearly if the ozone limit of 60-70 ppb is established. Reducing emissions will also save our country billions of dollars in annual health care costs.

Stecher wrote that “(Beyond Coal) wants Virginia Tech to be powered by geothermal, wind and solar energy.” However, the campaign has never specifically advocated an alternative energy source to replace coal. No one in Beyond Coal claims to be an expert in the field of alternative energy. A crucial component of its goal to eliminate coal use by 2020 is getting scientists and researchers involved in determining the most feasible energy sources for our area. It is for that reason that Beyond Coal is insisting that President Charles Steger immediately commission an alternative energy task force.

Finally, we can make no claims as to how renewable energy would affect tuition until a study is completed. However, coal-powered energy costs at Tech have increased by about 50 percent over the past five years. Coal is not the cheap fuel that people think it is. As the amount of coal in our country decreases, prices will continue to escalate. Shouldn’t we begin making an investment in renewable energy?

Sarah Grant

Sophomore

Communication major

Beyond Coal Intern

Article can be found originally here.

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