Clear the air, dump U coal plant

by Lance Brisbois

Before spring break, the Twin Cities metro and other parts of the upper Midwest were under an air pollution alert, meaning air quality was potentially unhealthy for sensitive groups. Although I constantly strive to reduce my carbon footprint, the air pollution alert was a further incentive. Unfortunately, while walking across the Washington Avenue Bridge one day, I noticed the UniversityâÄôs coal-burning steam plant along the Mississippi. I felt disgusted that despite trying to live more sustainably and reduce my greenhouse gas emissions, I was contributing to pollution simply by my attendance at the University. The UniversityâÄôs coal-powered steam plant emits numerous toxic air contaminants, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, mercury, arsenic and lead. Individual acts, like driving less and reducing energy consumption at home do help reduce air pollution, but what can we do about bigger things like our coal plants? Other universities have already committed to make the transition away from coal toward cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. The University is a sustainability leader and has already committed to carbon neutrality as part of the PresidentsâÄô Climate Commitment. Moving beyond coal as soon as feasibly possible will help us reach this goal and create a safer, healthier environment for all Minnesotans. Lance Brisbois University undergraduate student