The Sierra Club hit Ohio University's campus in September, rallying against coal, singing praises of alternative energy. The campaign targeted the Lausche Heating Plant at OU, which supplies heat to university buildings. The plant burned 31,000 tons of coal during the 2007 fiscal year, according to the OU Office of Sustainability
The Sierra Club released "Moving Campuses Beyond Coal," a report
that names Ohio University as one of 11 campuses that needs to "finish the job" and move out of the coal cloud and into the clean world of alternative energy. OU's President Roderick McDavis signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment two years ago. The commitment requires institutions to record carbon emissions, promote energy efficiency and to create an action plan to move the institutions toward more sustainable energy practices.
However, the Sierra Club ralliers may find themselves beating themselves to a bloody, screaming pulp as they keep running into this giant brick wall: Ohio University is host to the Ohio Coal Reseach Center
, "committed to providing innovative solutions to maintain our nation's fuel diversity in the production of environmentally safe and reliable electric power." The center does work in watershed restoration efforts as well as air pollution monitoring.
What the Sierra Club fails to realize is that this is a poor area where many students' families are supported by the local coal industry. Using our local resources not only supports the local economy, but provides research opportunities for cleaner ways to use the resources we already have. This is mentioned in the Ohio Coal Research Center's website: "The result is a strong voice that supports the development of Appalachian energy resources and protects the health and well-being of the environment."
This week, OU plays host to the Appalachian Regional Commission
, focusing on new energy jobs in the area. The aforementioned head-butting ideas are sure to be brought up somewhere at the conference. Today while walking through the John C. Baker University Center, students could not help but see two men holding up a bedsheet that protested the use of coal.
Certainly, coal is a hot issue in Athens that is not to burn out soon.