Letter: Kick Coal off Campus

Letter: Kick Coal off Campus

To The Big Green:

Moving beyond coal may seem costly at first glance, but there are many other factors that come into play when talking about monetary concerns. A recent State News article claimed that eliminating coal usage would cost the university $20 to $25 million. Our new art museum costs $40 million; about double the amount it would take to stop the use of coal. So why not invest in something that costs less and would affect the entire state of Michigan rather than something that’s double the amount and only affects a miniscule percent of MSU’s student body?

Right now the MSU power plant burns coal (photo credit: Brett Ekblad).

According to the National Academy of Sciences, coal-fired power plants cost the government about $156 million per plant a year and over $62 million in hidden costs that we are already paying for through our paychecks. These hidden costs are roughly twice the cost of the coal itself.  In addition, long term pollution not only disrupts plant growth, but leads to a $500 million loss due to reduced crop production in the U.S. every year.  Clearly, coal is not cheap.

Coal runs at a high cost in terms of money, but it also makes a huge impact on our health and the lives of future generations. Stopping the use of coal will prevent health risks, such as premature death, heart and lung disease.  Not only does it affect the obvious respiratory and cardiovascular systems, but it also has a large effect on the nervous system. Coal pollutants also cause loss of intellectual capacity through mercury. Researchers estimate that between 317,000 and 631,000 children are born in the U.S. each year with blood mercury levels high enough to reduce IQ scores and cause lifelong loss of intelligence.

Finally, coal accounts for about 40 percent of our nation’s carbon dioxide pollution. If we eliminate using coal and switch to a cleaner source of energy, in the long run, we will be saving an insurmountable amount of money, protecting our lives and those of future generations, and decrease the effects of global warming.

Jennifer Huang

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