Ohio Students Argue Clean Energy Would Boost Economy
By Levi Pine
As some American students crowd Copenhagen for the U.N. climate summit, Ohio students are still working at home to kick coal off of their campuses. Over 25 students from around Ohio continued work begun at a regional Power Shift conference in November, gathering at the Ohio State University campus in Columbus this past weekend. Students slept outside and hosted speakers to help plan for clean energy.
Mattie Reitman, the founder of the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition, spoke about Ohio’s coal-centered history.
“We need to obliterate the false assumption that dismantling our coal industry will wipe out jobs.”
The Ohio Coal Association directly disagrees. A statement on their website reads that legislation restricting carbon emissions would “have a drastic impact on Ohio's economy by eliminating jobs in eastern and southern Ohio.”
Other coal researchers at the Ohio Coal Research Center, a branch of Ohio University, are still looking for ways to make biofuel and coal less polluting.
But OSEC students and their allies think that any kind of biofuel is the wrong kind.
Nachy Kanfer, a represenatative of the Sierra Student Coalition’s Beyond Coal Campaign, touched on the recent cancellation of a proposed local coal plant. “We need to stop funding coal projects in Ohio,” said Kanfer. “As Ohioans, we are calling on decision-makers to invest in truly clean energy, like solar and wind.”
The Sierra Club is running campaigns to get coal off of college campuses in 11 states around the country.
Students from OSU, Hiram College, and Oberlin College are working together under the banner of OSEC to make strong demands of the Ohio state legislature. They are calling for legislators to end state subsidies to coal, reinvest that money into clean energy, and pass a stricter carbon emissions ceiling.
The students have been communicating with the office of Ohio Governor Strickland, who said that the state of Ohio used $84 million of federal stimulus money to invest in non-coal advanced energy projects.
OSEC is planning to continue their work in the spring, with organizer Tim Krueger applying for funding from Brighter Planet to have regular sleepouts at the state capitol.