April 11, 2012

We Need MSU To Be A Leader; All Hands On Deck

When I pulled into East Lansing yesterday the first thing I saw was the two looming towers of the Michigan State University campus coal plant. MSU's T.B. Simon coal plant is the largest campus coal plant in the country. And this week we need all hands on deck to build momentum to shut it down.

This Friday April 13, MSU's Board of Trustees will vote on an "Energy Transition Plan." The plan while seeming strong at face value, is missing critical elements. Most notably it lacks: 1) a date to retire the coal plant and 2) a full-scale plan to rapidly scale up efficiency and renewables.

As a result of student pressure, the plan does state the ultimate goal is to power MSU with 100% clean energy. This is a testament to the power of student organizing, and demonstrates that the university understands it’s important to transition to clean energy. However, without an actual plan to retire the coal plant, it’s a hollow promise and we need to change that.

Right now, student organizing around Michigan State’s energy future is at a fever pitch. In the last week MSU Greenpeace questioned the university’s green reputation by dropping a provocative banner reading “Spartan Green, I Wish!” It made the front page of the campus newspaper, and has re-opened the dialogue around whether MSU can really tout itself as green with a coal plant on its campus.

And as I’m writing this MSU Beyond Coal is out in the middle of campus with a giant inflatable asthma inhaler, and over 10,000 petitions strung together to make the connection between the coal plant and protecting student health, and show that these student demands are serious.

While MSU students are leading the charge, demands for Michigan State to shut down its coal plant and be a leader on clean energy are coming from all over the country. Students, campuses and the Greenpeace Student Network have been leading a call-in to President Simon and the Board of Trustees to emphasize that not only do MSU students want their school to be a leader on clean energy, but that the whole country is watching. In the last week students have made over 600 calls to demand 100% clean energy.

But the action doesn’t stop here. In the next 3 days there are a number of actions, rallies and ways you can support whether you’re in Michigan or watching from afar.


  1. Wednesday night at 7 ET -- Join MSU Beyond Coal’s 2nd Annual Clean Energy Forum (in-person or by livestream, RSVP here) for a campus-wide discussion about MSU’s energy future and the need to move beyond coal. Bill McKibben will be skyping-in to join the discussion and show his support, so don’t miss the livestream.

  2. Join MSU Greenpeace’s rally this Friday at 11 ET outside the Board of Trustees meeting to demand 100% Clean Energy. Dozens of people are expected, and an exciting list of speakers are lined-up including community clean energy leader Pastor Bullock. RSVP here.

  3. Make a call or send an email to demand MSU move beyond coal. MSU needs to know that people across the country are expecting MSU to be a leader on clean energy and retire their coal plant. The most direct way to do that is to make a call or send an email, but this is an all hands on deck moment and we need creative ideas, so if you’ve got one, get started! And let us know in the comments so that other people can hop on a join you.