Sierra Club takes coal fight to college basketball

“The Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Ups are meant to connect sports to the idea that dirty and dangerous on campus coal plants need to be replaced by clean and affordable solutions for the health of the players and the students.”

E&E News reports,

The Sierra Club announced today that it is sponsoring two upcoming college basketball games in an effort to pressure campuses to move away from coal-fired power.

The group is paying $17,500 to sponsor a Big Ten conference game at Indiana University on Thursday and $17,250 to sponsor another game at the University of Kentucky on Jan. 17, said spokeswoman Kim Teplitzky. This is the first time the Sierra Club has backed sports activities to spread its clean energy message.

“College students have been at the forefront of every major social movement in recent history and the drive to move our nation beyond coal towards safe, renewable solutions is no different,” Mary Anne Hitt, the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign director, said in a statement. “These student leaders show that young people want a cleaner, safer and healthier future for our nation”…

Below is the Sierra Club media release.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 10, 2012

Contact: Kim Teplitzky, 267-307-4707, kim.teplitzky@sierraclub.org

College Basketball Gets Clean Energy Boost from Sierra Club

In Unique Move, Sierra Club Sponsors Clean Energy Match-Ups at Indiana and Kentucky

Bloomington, IN – As college basketball season heats up, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization is getting in on the action sponsoring major conference games at Indiana University on January 12 and the University of Kentucky January 17. The Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Ups are meant to connect sports to the idea that dirty and dangerous on campus coal plants need to be replaced by clean and affordable solutions for the health of the players and the students.

More than 60 universities operate their own dirty coal plants right on campus posing a real health threat to students and the surrounding communities.

“Aging coal plants on-campus release dangerous pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, lead and sulfur dioxide into the air and water. Instead of polluting their own campuses, and endangering the health of their students, schools like Indiana and Kentucky should be the nation’s leaders – investing in innovative clean energy technologies for the 21st century,” said Quentin James, National Director of the Sierra Student Coalition, the Sierra Club’s youth-led Chapter.

“With the Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Ups we’re showing our support for these top teams while urging the universities to be their best by protecting the health of students and local communities with clean energy solutions instead of polluting coal.”

Since the Sierra Club launched the Campuses Beyond Coal campaign 19 schools have committed to stop burning coal on campus. Both Indiana and Kentucky are missing from that list and lagging behind conference and regional rivals already moving off dirty coal including the University of Minnesota, Clemson and Western Kentucky University.

Game sponsorship is a new move for the Sierra Club and something usually reserved for larger corporate interests. However, the Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Ups highlight growing support for the organization’s mission to move college campuses, and the nation, beyond coal.

“On more than 40 campuses around the country over 40,000 students have joined the campaign to make sure their school makes the switch to clean energy,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “College students have been at the forefront of every major social movement in recent history and the drive to move our nation beyond coal towards safe, renewable solutions is no different. These student leaders show that young people want a cleaner, safer and healthier future for our nation.”

The Clean Energy Match-Ups, Indiana vs. Minnesota and Kentucky vs. Arkansas, are early conference games for both teams as they head into the most important stretch of the college basketball regular season.

“I grew up in rural Kentucky as a Wildcats basketball fan and now as a student I’m working to make sure UK is a real leader by investing in clean energy that will create good jobs here in Kentucky, boost our economy and mean healthier air and water for everyone,” said Patrick Johnson a senior at the University of Kentucky. “I couldn’t be more excited to see two things so important to me come together with the Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Up here in Kentucky.”

The games will feature signs, giveaways and announcements from the Sierra Club in support of the teams and the universities. They’ll encourage students to send text messages to university administrators, take slam dunk photo petitions and combine their fanaticism for the team with their demands for clean air and a healthier campus.

“We hope to get more Hoosier basketball fans involved in making Indiana a leader off the court by retiring the coal plant on campus and replacing it with clean energy solutions. Moving off coal will mean cleaner air and a healthier campus that Hoosier fans can be really proud of,” said Megan Anderson a junior at Indiana University who has been co-leading the campaign to move IU beyond coal for the past two years.

The games kick-off the spring semester at both schools setting the stage for increased campus activity calling on campus administrators to switch from dirty coal to cleaner alternatives. Student fans will continue to see signs and advertisements saying, “Let’s Score One for Clean Energy” throughout the season on each campus.

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8 thoughts on “Sierra Club takes coal fight to college basketball”

  1. Whoa there, don’t get your panties in a bunch. Sierra Club gets their money from individual donors who are also voting members of the organization. Because the Sierra Club is a grassroots organization, all projects are approved by volunteer and paid staff decision makers. Not every expense comes from tax dollars, numbnuts.

  2. More importantly, not for profit organizations should have much higher scrutiny by the IRS and DOJ. Laws should be changed, if a not for profit can sue a profit and ‘restrain trade’, then the profit should be able to sue the not for profit for restraint of trade. No protection when you cross that line. That is part of what is destabilizing our economy. Let them pay to play that self righteous game in this country. We are an enegy based economy and most businesses need to be competitive in the new world market. Lower priced energy helps us competet worldwide.

  3. I’m sure that academia would be happy to shut down their “dirty coal” plants. They could then send the advertisement about how green they are in the increased tuition bills. These folks are divorced from reality. A few years ago the University of New Hampshire put in a landfill gas to electricity project that included piping the gas miles from the dump to campus. The cost per kilowatt of this installation made nuclear plants look like a bargain. They advertised just how green they were. Guess who has to pay for this green-ness?

  4. However, the Sierra Club is encouraging ignorance and panic over pathetically low amounts of pollution, and they use knowingly false information (in the form of linear no-threshold extrapolations) to support their actions. That’s hardly something to praise.

  5. I think that reasonably well educated and intelligent students are actually capable of thinking about more than one thing at a time. Jobs, yes; preserving clean air and natural resources also, yes; encouraging discussion about costs and benefits of different energy sources, yes… I think most students are capable of handling all this. I applaud the Sierra Club, and all the donors (NOT taxpayers) who support the Sierra Club in their efforts to get even more folks thinking about these things…

  6. Hey, this is a great idea. . . .

    I think all universities should immediately shut down their power plants.

    If they are able to buy electricity from somewhere else, great. . . I know the students would be more than willing to raise their tuition and the faculty to lower their salaries to make up the electric bill increase.

    If they can’t buy any more kilowatt hours — no problem. Just hitch the flying winged unicorns to some emergency wind generators they can put up around campus. . . . .

  7. I would have thought that any reasonably well educated and intelligent student would put getting a job first – Goebbels must be a saint to these insidious parasites in our human community – and it would be good to find out where they get their funds from?

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