by Natalie Davenport, Michigan State University, West Bloomfield, MI
Today, MSU Greenpeace launched a nationwide week of action demanding our Board of Trustees reject the university’s unambitious, incomplete, and flawed energy transition plan.
Four student activists unfurled a large 20ft x 20ft banner on a parking garage at a busy intersection near the Hannah Administration building, home to the university’s executive offices of the President and Board of Trustees.This begins two weeks of action where campuses nationwide will join MSU Greenpeace demanding the MSU Board of Trustees pave the way for a clean energy future by voting NO on MSU’s faulty, unambitious energy plan.
For over two years, we’ve worked to get our President Lou Anna K. Simon to agree to quit coal and transition to 100% clean energy. Following a sit-in last semester where 3 students were arrested, the university perked up it ears and began talking about 100% clean energy as its “ultimate goal.” Sadly, the plan the University has produced is far short of what it will take to accomplish that goal. The current plan does not make a commitment to quit coal, nor does it set an ambitious timeline for an energy revolution at MSU.
As we wait for true leadership, MSU’s T.B. Simon coal plant continues to poison the air and water of 47,000 students and surrounding community members. It contributes to the destruction of communities who face the impacts of mining and the disposal of toxic coal waste. And as we end one of the warmest winters on record, the plant continues to spew thousands of tons of carbon pollution that drives global climate change.
On April 13th, the MSU Board of Trustees can do what President Simon has failed to do: lead. We’re asking the Board to reject the proposed energy transition plan that includes false solutions like natural gas, no commitment to retire the T.B. Simon coal plant, and no timeline either! Real leadership would be committing to quit coal and transition to 100% clean energy as quickly as possible.
I’m tired of greenwashing. “Spartan Green” PR slogans aren’t going to make the difference we need. That’s why today, the banner said “Spartan Green? I wish!”
I wish MSU would seize this great opportunity to lead the country in clean energy solutions, rebuild the Michigan economy, and prepare students for careers in competitive, clean energy fields. I wish MSU would set a powerful precedent for other colleges and universities nationwide. I wish MSU would commit to retire the coal plant and develop an ambitious, aggressive energy plan to transition to 100% clean energy.
I’m inviting you to join me as we draw a line in the sand demanding nothing less than 100% clean energy and come together united for change this April.