Sunday rally calls for cleaner fuels at U of M plant

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September 27, 2010 // UPDATED 4:18 pm - October 8, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott
There’s only one coal-burning plant left in the city of Minneapolis. But that’s one too many, says a coalition of local activists pressuring the University of Minnesota to transition to cleaner fuel sources.

These activists — an umbrella coalition made up of the Sierra Club, Oxfam, Greenpeace, Alliance for Sustainability, the Will Steger Foundation and others — will gather at the city’s last coal-burning plant this Sunday in an effort to push the University towards cleaner energy policies.

Organizers are expecting between 300 and 500 attendees. Over 100 bicyclists are planning to ride from Como Park to the rally site, at Mill Ruins Park.

As part of an ongoing Climate Action Planning process, the University’s Sustainability Committee is charged with creating an energy plan this fall for its Twin Cities campus. One option on the table is to continue burning coal at the U’s Southeast Steam Plant, the last plant in the city to still use the fossil fuel.

It is estimated that the Southeast Steam Plant burns 38,000 tons of coal every year.

Three other schools in the Big Ten — Penn State, University of Illinois and University of Wisconsin-Madison — have already pledged to move beyond coal.

According to the local chapter of the Sierra Club, the Southeast Steam Plant is equipped with a something called a “circulated fluidized bed boiler,” which would allow it to burn cleaner energy sources like biomass and natural gas. But the U of M would have to launch feasibility studies to fully explore this possibility.

Sunday, Oct. 10, 2 to 5 p.m.
Mill Ruins Park
103 Portland Ave. S.
Speakers include Senators Ellen Anderson and Patricia Torres-Ray, Councilmember Diane Hofstede and Will Steger