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Activist Group Urges IU Officials To Reduce Coal Use


Photo: Andrew Olanoff/ WFIU

Leading a tour through the 55-year old coal plant, IU Assistant Director of Utilities Mark Menefee points out pollution-reducing changes that have taken place in the last few years.

Coal Free IU presented Indiana University president Michael McRobbie with a report Monday on the costs the campus’ power plant is having on the environment. The coal-burning power plant produces heat for most of the main buildings on campus.

Coal Free IU President Megan Anderson says the plant may be saving the university money on its energy bills, but it is costing students and nearby residents in other ways.

“Some of the costs that get passed on to those communities are the health effects caused by coal dust and particulates that are in the air in mining communities and coal ash and coal slurry ponds which are usually located on top of abandoned mines,” Anderson says.

The report assigns a monetary value to environmental damage and the negative health effects from the mining, transportation and burning of coal. The estimated costs total more than $4 million annually.

Anderson says the IU Campus has no plan to wean itself off coal in the future. But Assistant Director of Utilities on the Bloomington Campus Mark Menefee says the coal-burning plant is already ahead of EPA regulations and emissions standards.

“The university did spend nearly twenty million dollars adding bag houses and this dry injection equipment in order to reduce our emissions to the MAC levels,” Menefee says.

Menefee says the most effective way to reduce the amount of coal used by the plant is by decreasing the demand for coal generated heat. That would include renovating buildings to include more energy efficient technologies and insulation.

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