Sierra Club Goes After Collegiate Coal

A national protest against coal on college campuses is kicking off with the University of Colorado at Boulder. (Photo: cuboulder [Public domain]/Wikimedia Commons)

I used to live in Boulder, Colorado, also known as the People's Republic of Boulder because of the town's high concentration of liberal treehugger types. A popular sticker for Boulderites came with the slogan "Keep Boulder Weird". It's a heck of a town, nestled right in the foothills of the Rockies and surrounded by green space that the town started buying up and preserving back in the '70s.

Boulder is home to a myriad of green businesses and probably has more outdoor gear in the garage per capita than any other city in the country. The city is rolling out the nation's first smart grid and is known for having good bike lanes and public transportation.

They city has green cred. It's not much of a stretch to extend that cred to the University of Colorado at Boulder, which was named as the top green university by Sierra magazine in its recent issue.

Yet the university burns coal to power its campus. In fact, it burns coal to power its campus ON campus. Smack dab in the middle of residential halls and academic buildings sits a smokestack attached to a coal-burning plant.

Somewhat ironically, it's the Sierra Club that's leading the charge to get CU Boulder to stop burning coal to generate power. Students affiliated with the group held a rally last month to protest the coal plant.

CU Boulder gets about 75 percent of its energy from Exel Energy, which derives most of its energy from burning coal. The rest of CU's electricity needs are covered by its own coal plant and a small number of solar panels they've set up around campus.

The Sierra Club is taking the protest national and targeting the following schools who get their power from coal.

  • Indiana University-Bloomington
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • Lewis and Clark
  • Ohio University
  • Penn State University
  • SUNY-Binghamton
  • University of Colorado - Boulder
  • University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Iowa
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • University of North Dakota
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Washington
  • Virginia Tech
  • Washington University-St. Louis

The Sierra Club is asking that any students attending these schools visit and sign a petition asking university presidents to give coal the ol' heave ho.

And of course, they've put together a great little video driving home the message that coal is a dirty source of energy. Enjoy.