Tomorrow afternoon the UNC Energy Task Force will convene for the first time. The task force was formed by Chancellor Thorpe in January, to review the University's carbon reduction plan. Although the force will likely consider a number of strategies, it's expected that the main focus will be on the University's coal-fired steam and power plant. The facility burns more than 100,000 tons of coal each year. To put that in perspective each ton of coal can release enough Co2 to fill 15, 40x20 ft swimming pools. Remember though, It's not just about greenhouse gas emissions, the plant also produces 35,000 tons of ash each year. Since coal ash is not regulated by the EPA it can potentially contaminate groundwater supplies.
For these reasons the coal-fired plant has been at the center of Sierra Club's Coal-Free UNC Campaign. Although the University plans to be carbon neutral by 2050, the student movement is committed to ending the University's coal consumption by 2015. Tim Toben, chair of the N.C. Energy Policy Council will lead the discussion tomorrow as chair of the new task force. Although the committee is expected to take 6 to 12 months to recommend a plan of action, we hope that from the out start their is a consensus that the co-generation plant needs to stop burning coal. Coal-free UNC organizer Laura Stevens put it best when she said "The best way for the task force to address energy use on campus is to address coal use. Coal is dirty from cradle to grave. From start to finish it hurts the environment."