PSR chapters continue to fight coal
November 17, 2011
continue to make powerful strides to get the U.S. off of coal and onto clean,
healthy, renewable energy sources. Just in the past week, PSR activists
in Oregon, Iowa and Michigan conducted an impressive series
of public events, media visits and Grand Rounds presentations.
joined with partners Sierra Club and Climate Solutions to hold a “Coal Hard
Truth Forum,” spotlighting the proposal to export tens of millions of tons of
coal through the state to foreign markets.
are threatening to send millions of tons of coal from mines in Wyoming and Montana overseas,
hauling 20 trainloads of uncovered coal cars through Portland daily to proposed export terminals on the coast.
Washington State PSR chapters are both ending their reliance on coal by
committing to close their last coal plants. But this proposal from Big Coal
would jeopardize the health, safety, and economy of Pacific Northwest communities.
successful “Truth Forum” looked at the risks to health if those plans are
approved. Coal trains would spew toxic coal dust into the air and water, expose
residents’ lungs to diesel exhaust, clog the railroads and road crossings, spark
fires, and stoke climate change.
The same week, Iowa PSR spoke out about coal at three
Iowa PSR president Maureen McCue, MD
MPH, spoke to a Unitarian church about the health-based impacts of coal.
Later that week, Dr. McCue addressed
over 150 students and faculty members from the hydrology, geology, and
sustainability departments at Iowa State University.
And the chapter fielded two speakers
at a large rally at the University of Iowa, calling on the university to move
the campus off of coal-fired power. PSR was represented both by Dr. McCue
and by its coal campaign organizer, Paul Deaton, who is working with students
to develop an inventory of alternative energy sources available in Iowa.
After the rally, participants
delivered a petition bearing 3,000 student signatures to the university
president, calling on him to stop burning coal in the campus’s cogeneration
All three events examined Iowa’s
energy alternatives if they move off of coal. “This is what people increasingly
bring up,” McCue commented, noting that Iowa is well-positioned to replace
dirty fossil fuels with wind and/or solar power.
“I really think we’re making some
progress here,” she stated. “I think we might get some coal plants shut
down here in IA in the foreseeable future.”
In Michigan, PSR board member and senior scientist Alan Lockwood, MD
FAAN, conducted a brief speaking tour that brought his expertise to hospital
personnel, university students, and two editorial boards.
Dr. Lockwood made a Grand Rounds
presentation at the Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. The talk, attended by
about 75 doctors, focused on the impacts of coal pollutants on the respiratory,
nervous and cardiovascular systems and drew good questions.
He met with students at Michigan
State working to close their campus’s coal-fired power plant, one of the
largest and dirtiest university plants in the nation. He and the students then met with the
editorial board of the State
News, a Michigan State student paper
that is widely read in the off-campus community.
A few days later, the paper issued
its first editorial voicing definitive support of the effort to close down the coal-fired power plant. The
students told PSR that the paper had done a good job of covering their
activities but had never written an editorial endorsing their goals - until
Dr. Lockwood then met with the
editorial board of the Detroit Free Press. Dr. Lockwood was accompanied
throughout his tour by a staffer from the Ecology
Center, PSR’s partner organization in Michigan. Many thanks to the
Ecology Center for helping set up a highly effective speaking tour!