Invent the Right Energy Future

29 03 2010

Virginia Tech would be no place for Hokies without the Appalachian Mountains encompassing our campus.

Unfortunately, right in our back yards, in the heart of Southwest Virginia, our mountains and rivers are being deliberately destroyed by a type of coal extraction called mountaintop removal.

I think students and community members alike would agree that we want to have no part in destroying the mountains that so beautifully embody our community. Many of us ask ourselves what we can do about this.

Virginia Tech Beyond Coal asked this very same question. Beyond Coal, a student-run organization supported by the Sierra Club, has taken a strong stand against coal use on campus. Beyond Coal is working with students, faculty and alumni to build support to transition to 100 percent renewable energy on campus by 2020.

We are asking President Charles Steger and the Virginia Tech administration to work with our organization and commission a study to research all potential renewable energy options in our geographic area. As one of the top research institutions in the world, Virginia Tech has the power to be a leader toward a clean energy economy by moving away from coal as soon as possible.

Global warming and the use of coal seem to be a buzzing debate nationwide. Not only does burning coal account for more than 30 percent of global CO2 emissions annually, but it also releases toxins that cause asthma, cancer and birth defects.

Tech’s coal plant sits right next to many lecture halls and student dorms, such as Thomas Hall. Students complain that coal ash emitted from the power plant covers their building and blackens their dorm windows.

This semester, Virginia Tech Beyond Coal has collected more than 2,000 signed petitions through grass roots outreach and events on campus. Twenty-five faculty and nine student organizations have officially endorsed the campaign. Recent events, including a photo petition in Squires Student Center, have displayed widespread support throughout the campus community.

Over the last three months, more than four universities have committed to stop using coal, all thanks to grass roots campaigns just like the one at Tech. Most recently, our basketball rival at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, have formed an energy task force to examine the university’s use of coal, so it too can pursue the switch to clean energy.

AtTech, we pride ourselves on being innovators to invent the future. With this slogan, the Hokies are recognized as a cohesive nation always willing to lend a hand to each other and our Blacksburg community. So I ask you to take a stand and let Steger know that our university is responsible for inventing the right future. We have all the right resources to empower global change, and we need Steger to make the right decision and take action now.

Let’s save our mountains and breathe cleaner air.

Carlie Guilfoile, of Chapel Hill, N.C., is a Virginia Tech sophomore, majoring in communications.

Article can be found originally here

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