Students tweet and more against university coal investments

The Sierra Club said in an April 2 statement that students from North Carolina to Illinois are uniting in a call to move millions of dollars in university endowment funds out of the “risky and dirty” coal industry.

Through actions including street art and Twitter campaigns, students are aiming to make universities prove their sustainability goals by taking money out of coal investments. This effort coincides with a long-term Sierra Club campaign to get universities to shut a number of on-campus steam plants around the country that fire coal.

“Big coal is making people sick all across the country,” said Katrina Underwood a junior at the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champagne. “It’s time to align our university’s commitment to sustainability on campus with their long-term financial investments. We want to show that making money by polluting our air and water is not acceptable. We know we can have a profitable endowment fund that provides for the future of the university and protects our school from the risks of the fossil fuel industry.”

The campaign, a joint effort of both financial and environmental groups, is calling on schools to move their money away from the “Filthy 15” companies, including top coal producers Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), CONSOL Energy (NYSE: CNX) and Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE: ANR), plus utility companies Ameren (NYSE: AEE) and Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK). 

“Students have been at the forefront of every major social movement in recent decades and the fight to move our nation beyond coal to clean energy is no different,” said Mary Schellentrager, Coal Divestment Coordinator for the Energy Action Coalition. “Young people are constantly finding creative new ways to challenge the status quo – fighting against the Vietnam War in the 70’s, apartheid in the 80’s and now ending our nation’s reliance on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels.”

This campaign includes students at the University of Illinois, University of North Carolina, Colby College in Maine, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Earlham College in Indiana and College of the Atlantic in Maine.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.