Supporting a Campus Beyond Coal
Campus Beyond Coal is a national effort of the Sierra Club's that is working to stop the burning of coal at campuses through out the country. A twin cities group started this year and is building support and momentum in and around the Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses.
They are working to convince the U of M administration to set a timeline for when they will stop burning coal. Since Xcell converted its Minneapolis plant to natural gas, this is the only facility burning coal in the city.
Last week I presented a resolution in support of this effort. The resolution passed unanimously at the Regulatory, Energy and Environment committee meeting.
I give credit to Missy Gettel from the Minnesota Student Association and the Campus Beyond Coal group at the University for bringing this issue to the forefront. Several neighborhood associations near campus, including the Southeast Como Improvement Association and the Seward Neighborhood Group, have also weighed in calling for the an end to coal burning at the Minneapolis plant which is already equipped to burn natural gas and bio mass.
Here is the resolution that I hope will gain full Council support this Friday.
Supporting the University of Minnesota’s Efforts to Become Carbon-
Whereas, the University of Minnesota has a comprehensive planning effort underway to implement sustainability goals, including a Regents’ policy to reduce dependence on nonrenewable resources and implement a sustainability metric system on campus; and
Whereas, President Robert Bruininks signed the President’s Climate Commitment in January of 2008, which pledges the University of Minnesota to voluntarily achieve climate neutrality; and
Whereas the University is committed to engaging students, faculty and staff in the process to implement sustainability goals for the University; and
Whereas, the Minnesota Student Association on behalf of the University of Minnesota students has resolved and organized to support the transition by the University of Minnesota to coal-free sources of power and achieving climate neutrality at University campuses throughout the state; and
Whereas, the University has made significant capital improvements and operational changes to reduce its emissions and transitioned from primarily producing steam by burning coal to now producing less than 30% of its steam content by burning coal; and
Whereas, the University burns an estimated 38,000 tons of coal a year;
Whereas, Xcel Energy’s Highbridge Plant in St. Paul and Riverside Plant in Minneapolis were both recently converted from coal to natural gas making the Central University Steam Plant on the Mississippi River in Southeast Minneapolis the only remaining coal burning energy plant in the Twin Cities; and
Whereas, fine air particulates produced by burning coal contribute to air pollution, unhealthy air days and asthma; and
Whereas, many adopted City goals support reduction of emissions from burning carbon based fossil fuels, including:
- The Climate Change Sustainability Indicator, which calls for a 17% citywide reduction of carbon emissions by 2020
- The Renewable Energy Sustainability Indicator, which calls for a 10% citywide increase in renewable energy production by 2014
- The Air Quality Sustainability Indicator, which calls for a reduction in air toxins
Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by The City Council of The City of Minneapolis:
That the City of Minneapolis commends the University of Minnesota for working to establish a campus sustainability committee and supports the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Student Association in their efforts to become climate neutral, transition away from burning coal, and fully implement the Regents policy on Sustainability and Energy Efficiency and the President’s Climate Commitment.