Since the fall of 2009, Campus Beyond Coal (CBC) has been leading a student run, grassroots campaign to move the University of Minnesota beyond coal power. With the mission of “To bring about, through active engagement and awareness-raising measures, the phase out of coal-fired power on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus” we have built a grassroots campaign to address coal use on our campus. Our grassroots campaign initiated with a group of dedicated students who were concerned about the carbon emissions of the University Of Minnesota, the institution’s sustainability initiatives, and the fact that the U was burning 38,000 tons of coal in Minneapolis!
In 2010 Campus Beyond Coal gained the support of over 5,000 students, faculty, and community members via petitions asking the University’ s Sustainability Committee “to move beyond coal as soon as feasibly possible.” Furthermore, Campus Beyond Coal received resolutions from the surrounding Minneapolis neighborhoods, such as Como, Seward and Marcy Holmes in addition to a resolution signed by the Minneapolis City Council.
Over the past year CBC worked with Sustainability Committee as they formulated the Climate Action Plan for the University. The Climate Action Plan is the plan for the U to become carbon neutral by 2050 as called for by the President’s Climate Commitment, signed by the U in 2008. In order to become carbon neutral, the Sustainability Committee had to address the coal burned at the Southeast Steam Plant, so Campus Beyond Coal asked that the Climate Action Plan eliminate the use of coal at the steam plant within the next five years.
Last spring the Sustainability Committee presented its proposed Climate Action Plan which calls for an 85% reduction of coal use at the Southeast Steam Plant effective this fall! In addition, the University has committed to cut CO2 emissions by 50% in 2020! Campus Beyond Coal considers these proposals victories for the campaign, students and community members of the U of M. We are very proud of all the hard work students have put into this campaign and are very thankful for the support we have gained in our efforts. This reduction in coal use is a giant step towards carbon neutrality and sustainability at the U; a step we have been awaiting to see happen for some time and an achievement for the entire University community.
It has been a whirlwind couple of years in this awesome campaign; we have grown from a small group of students to a network of support at the U of M, and now we have a victory under our belt! But…we are not slowing down. With all this momentum our goal this year is to address U of M coal use at the next level and look at Xcel Energy. Since Xcel provides power for the University of Minnesota, we are asking Xcel to increase its commitments to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Xcel’s positions on the forefront of renewable energy and energy efficiency should be applauded, but to maintain this position, we ask Xcel to commit in its Integrated Resource Plan to retiring Sherburne County (Sherco) Coal Generating Station, build 5,000 MW of new wind generation, 1,000MW of solar generation, and achieve as 2 percent annual energy efficiency standard.
Courtney Dowell – Co-Chair Campus Beyond Coal
Campus Beyond Coal Fall 2011. Kicking off a brand new semester!