The Argument for Leaving Coal Behind

As we have seen on campus for the past week, the student run organization, H.O.P.E (Help Our Planet Earth), has been pushing its campaign, “Beyond Coal,” in an effort to switch the university’s heat source from coal to efficient renewable energy. In order to do this, however, we need a lot of people to contribute their efforts.

There will be picture petitions in the Kehr Union February 4th, February 8th and 9th from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. along with many days after that have yet to be announced. The goal is to obtain 150 picture petitions and 100 regular petitions per day to eventually turn into a collage and send out to the University president. H.O.P.E also plans to make several other efforts to sway students, including speaking out to people in the residence halls, in classes, giving tours of the coal-fired powered plant.

Some people may argue that these efforts are tedious, stupid and generally “a waste of time.” However, research and statistics beg to differ. Eli Tome, director of H.O.P.E has informed people with many interesting statistics and facts. Coal ash waste has been known to be more radioactive than nuclear waste. Unfortunately, coal supplies 30% of our nations energy, and can be directly linked to high asthma rates. Coal is also the largest unregulated source of mercury in the US, which many officials believe may be the reason why 1 in 6 woman have mercury levels too high for a baby.

How does Coal directly affect Bloomsburg? The school burns about a tonne (1000 kilograms) of coal an hour. There are also no scrubbers in the facility so there is NO way of filtering out the pollutants in the coal. The coal ash is spread onto the roads in the winter, and to make matters worse – the coal ash is toxic. Despite this, many students have misconceptions about the coal power plant and rumors are rapidly spreading about campus. These misconceptions include:

1. The goal is to get the coal-fired power plant knocked down.
2. Changing the energy source will result in people losing jobs.
3. Getting rid of coal will lead to higher costs and possibly tuition.

None of the above are true. In fact, changing the energy source from coal to renewable energy would take place within the coal-fired power plant. The school has already improved the system, by installing a biomass burner on Nov. 1 of 2010. The biomass burner has decreased the amount of carbon and chemical emissions on the campus. This was all done with the help of BU professor of physics, Dr. Green. He put forth a lot of effort, applied for loans and grants, and succeeded at attaining $500,000 towards a healthier, environmental-friendly campus. This change alone has saved BU $600 to $700 a day; approximately $15,200 in January alone. As for jobs, people can still maintain their careers, while producing a different form of energy. Going green does not void out workers. With that all said it’s safe to assume that the three misconceptions listed above are fallacies.

If you support this campaign, come out on the dates listed above to make a statement. Students pay thousands of dollars a year to attend Bloomsburg University, your opinion matters. Each inidividual person can take these petitions a long way. It takes two seconds to sign a petition, and if you’re courageous enough, to take a photo. So come by after class, before lunch or when there’s two minutes to spare. Fight for human health, a healthy atmosphere, and a healthy campus. There’s only one Bloomsburg campus,  and one Earth for us, our children, our grandchildren and the many generations to come.


**Editors note: Alexandra Marchione is a contributing writer and a member of H.O.P.E.  Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the rest of the staff of BUNow.**



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