The Coal Free IU coalition delivered more than 5,000 petition signatures to university President Michael McRobbie’s office this morning. The petitions asked the university to develop a plan that would replace the campus’ coal power plant with renewable energy sources.
Sierra Club national Conservation director Sarah Hodgdon says 19 universities have already created plans to shut down their coal plants over the next several years, and Indiana University should do the same.
“Right now what’s really important is for universities to be saying renewable, solar and wind are the energy of the future, and it’s time to move past really old, dirty infrastructure,” she says.
An IU secretary who accepted the petitions said the administration would get back with the group as soon as possible.
IU vice president for capital projects and facilities Tom Morrison was out of town but said he understands what the organizations are trying to accomplish.
“We respect both the Coal Free IU and the Sierra Club’s position, and I think in some ways their goals match ours,” he says. “I think the question always gets down to time and money.”
Coal Free IU President Megan Anderson says she and some other students have already met with Morrison, but that is not enough. They want a meeting with President McRobbie.
“We don’t expect you to tell me we can shut the coal plant off tomorrow. That’s not how it works,” Anderson says. “This is a discussion about the broad future of our school. And this is a public institution so there needs to be a level of transparency about what our energy decisions look like.”
The petitions were collected from IU students and faculty and Bloomington residents over the past three years.