Moving Beyond Dirty Energy



Cross posted from Greenpeace USA

After over a year of college students in North Carolina organizing and working with administrators to get their Universities to fight climate change by embracing clean energy, the University of North Carolina (UNC) just responded in a big way.

UNC system President Thomas Ross sent a letter (below) to the utility that sells the UNC system electricity – Duke Energy, the largest electrical utility in the country – expressing his request for clean energy for the whole University of North Carolina system.

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This post originally appreared at Waging Nonviolence. To read the original post, click here.

Anti-mountaintop removal activist Larry Gibson, who passed away last year, saw most of his family's land on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia razed by the coal industry. (Flickr / Blaine O'Neill)

Anti-mountaintop removal activist Larry Gibson, who passed away last year, saw most of his family’s land on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia razed by the coal industry. (Flickr / Blaine O’Neill)

Two and a half years ago, I arrived home from the last of several trips to West Virginia, where I had gone with a group of 10 fellow Swarthmore College students to witness the impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining. Knowing that our school was invested in this practice that is decimating rural communities — and wanting to support their organizing against it — we decided to ask Swarthmore to divest its stock holdings from fossil fuels. Although we knew that our school wouldn’t have a huge impact on the situation, we hoped our actions would encourage other schools to start similar campaigns — thereby drawing more attention to the daily struggles of people on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction, and possibly even posing a threat to the industry itself.

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One of my proudest moments as an organizer was three years ago when I marched alongside hundreds of young activists and community members through downtown Pittsburgh ­ to rally outside the David Lawrence Convention Center where Karl Rove was telling the nation’s top gas industry representatives that “climate is gone…I don’t think you need to worry.”

Karl should have been shaking in his boots on that podium because, a few days later, the City of Pittsburgh made history when city council passed a resolution to prohibit drilling for natural gas using hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) within city limits. It was the first local ordinance of its kind in the country, and there have been many more since. Pittsburgh’s government leaders understood the risks that unconventional extraction of natural gas from deep shale can pose to air quality, clean water, and public health; and they acted in the best interest of their constituents.

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