News Ohio University

Bobcats Leap Beyond Gas

Editor’s Note: Official message sent by Caitlyn McDaniel, VP Student Senate

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Caitlyn McDaniel, president of the Ohio University Sierra Student Coalition, and Kalten Walter participate in the state breakout section of PowerShift 2013, a national conference directed at college students looking to become environmental activists in their communities. Photo by Gracie Umana.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees will be voting to discontinue the construction of a $75-100,000,000 gas plant on the Athens Main Campus. This gas plant would have locked the school into a 50-year contract with the gas industry, ensuring our dependence on fossil fuels and combustive energy all the way up until 2075. We’re going to reach a tipping point for the climate well before that date (that is, a temperature increase that we will not be able to return from for a very long time, according to climatologists). We could not have waited until 2075, and so students at OU created the Bobcats Beyond Gas campaign to come up with alternative options.

Geothermal, solar, and wind were all discussed; the Board of Trustees and the Department of Facilities, however, have decided to cancel the brand new gas plant, in favor of converting the existing plant (previously run on coal) over to gas entirely.

While the Ohio University Sierra Student Coalition and its affiliate organizations within the Athens community are proud of the decision that our university has made in regards to this investment, we must continue to maintain our position on methane gas: as we face the dire results of climate change, we cannot approve any combustive energy source, especially one that is only slightly less pollutive than coal.

As long as we are dependent on fossil fuels, methane gas will be a mere band-aid on an open wound. Despite all of the best intentions and warmest wishes, it is a product that will continue to contribute to the death of entire ecosystems, the permanent extinction of species and their habitats, and an ever-changing landscape that will forever alter our social and economic ways of life.

That said, the administration’s decision to halt such a large infrastructural investment in a fossil fuel is a huge step in the right direction. However, Bobcats Beyond Gas are still committed to working with the university to move off all fossil fuel energy sources in the future. We look forward to continuing those discussions with the administration.

Our sincerest gratitude goes out to the Board of Trustees: they made a difficult decision, but have succeeded in giving us more flexibility for the next few years while the Bobcat community figures out what to do next. That being said, we won’t rest until the entire state of Ohio has been released from the heavy hand of oil, gas and coal. It’s time to move forward, and I encourage the state to look to their youth as leaders and innovators in combatting climate change.

More information on the agenda announcing the new Utility Master Plan can be found on the Ohio University Board of Trustees web page. For more information on the Bobcats Beyond Gas campaign or its parent organization, OUSSC, please contact Caitlyn McDaniel (cm947610@ohio.edu<mailto:cm947610@ohio.edu>), Emma Holman-Smith (eh516611@ohio.edu<mailto:eh516611@ohio.edu>), or Olivia Wallace (ow575711@ohio.edu<mailto:ow575711@ohio.edu>).

Read about Bobcats Beyond Gas here

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