Earlier this week during the State of the Union, President Obama said, "The nation that leads the clean energy economy, will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation." Well here in North Carolina we've already begun that fight. This week, the UNC Beyond Coal Campaign kicked off the spring semester with a group meeting focused on brainstorming ideas and recruiting volunteers for upcoming events.
Since September, the Beyond Coal Campaign has been working to end the use of coal at the campus's co-generation power plant. The plant burns over 100,000 tons of coal annually, that makes it the largest source of air pollution in Orange County. It's also emitting dangerous chemicals such as mercury and arsenic, which have been linked to cause cancer, heart disease and an increase in respiratory problems. The effects of the pollution also go beyond Chapel Hill, for years dirty coal mining has caused health risks for communities around the country. In a recent NCSU study in Wise County, Va researchers have linked coal dust kicked up off the road to severe asthma cases in the surrounding community. Ending UNC's coal consumption will only reduce the burden put on these small towns across our nation.
On Thursday the Beyond Coal volunteers held an action day, where they had fellow students hold up a word bubble saying, "Tar Heels for a Greener Campus." Since September the campaign has collected over 1,900 signatures on a petition, which asks the university to end its coal use by 2015. This week Chancellor Thorpe released a statement saying that he will create a task force to review the University's carbon reduction efforts. All though this is a step in the right direction, the Beyond Coal Campaign is still pushing to end the University's dependence on coal. If you are an alumni or just a concerned citizen that would like to lend your support, below you will find links to the campaigns website.