Entirely East Lansing staff writer
Michigan State students are urging the residents of East Lansing to educate, take a stand, and make a difference in the Beyond Coal movement.
“We want East Lansing residents to educate themselves, if they knew what was being produced by using coal they wouldn’t allow it,” said Ibrahem G. Wasti, Beyond Coal’s outreach coordinator.
Beyond Coal, a student coalition that aims to wean the university of off coal usage, is reaching out to the East Lansing community for supporters.
“The burning of coal emits mercury, arsenic, and lead into the air. This pollution created by the coal causes autism, cancer, and several respiratory problems,” according to Wasti.
“Burning coal pertains more to East Lansing residence than the students because the students are only here for four years. I have family and friends who are going to be here for a lifetime,” said Wasti, who is also a East Lansing native.
Beyond Coal has set up an agreement with the university to work towards the transition from coal to other energy sources such as solar and wind power, but the university says they are looking to make a change within the next 100 years, according to Wasti.
Jamey Martinez, a building service worker at Michigan State University said, “I don’t know much about solar energy or its sources but when I worked for the Michigan State’s grounds, the department, they were in process of replacing wood chips, they shredded and planned on selling them to the coal plant to create energy; that’s a step.”
“I think the 100 years is ridiculous, we have this new cyclotron that cost billions of dollars. A energy source could definitely be brought on campus before a cyclotron,” said Martinez.
Using coal for energy not only affects East Lansing residents and the students it affects the world. Coal is obtained by a process called mountain top removal. The usage if dynamite to blow up tops of mountains, according to Wasti.
“We have advanced far more than that; it doesn’t even make sense,” said Wasti.
This not only affects the mountain, which transform into plains after the process, but it also takes energy, fuel admissions, and resources to transport the coal, according Wasti.
Rayshawn Williams, a student at the university said, “I really don’t care too much about the situation. What if this increases tuition? For the environment it would be good but for our pockets not so much. If the school and East Lansing could some how balance the cost that would be better.”
“We don’t expect this to be a overnight change, we want this to be a transition. Using solar energy, wind power, and other techniques can create new healthier jobs for the workers at the coal plant,” said Wasti.
“Even if we stopped polluting the air today, the effects from prior years are still going to affect us for the next 50 years,” said Wasti.