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Scrapbook: Wisconsin Students Protest Mountaintop Removal

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February 23, 2010

Wisconsin Students Protest Mountaintop Removal

LaCrosse-MTR-demonstration
Photo courtesy of WKBT Newschannel 8

On February 18, students at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse held a mountaintop removal mining (MTR) demonstration with a snow mountain they constructedand then despoiled and demolishedfor the occasion.

Two television stations covered the event (click on the photographs above and below to watch), as did the local paper, the LaCrosse Tribune.

WXOW-Channel-19
Photo courtesy of WXOW Newschannel 19

The demonstration took place right after trucks delivered a load of coal to the university's heating plant. Below, UW-L graduate student Jeremy Gragert "blows up" top of the mountain and pours a fake coal slurry mixture onto a model village on the mountain's flank. 

Blowing-up-the-mountain
Polluting-the-mountain
Photos courtesy of WKBT Newschannel 8

"The UW-L heating plant burns coal that destroys communities, mountains, and water systemsa lot of people are affected," Gragert, below, told the Tribune. "We need to end these contracts as soon as we possibly can."

Jeremy-Gragert
Photo courtesy of WKBT Newschannel 8

"Mountaintop removal buries streams and destroys the water, and then when we burn the coal it contributes to global warming, mercury pollution, and other problems," No Coal Coalition spokesperson Elizabeth Ward, below, told WKBT Channel 8 News.

Elizabeth-Ward
Photo courtesy of WKBT Newschannel 8

At the demonstration, students gathered petition signatures to send to Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, calling for all contracts with coal companies engaging in MTR to end, and urging the state to look to sources of energy other than coal. "The larger issue is climate change," Gragert said. "We shouldn't burn coal in the first place."

Fifteen of Wisconsin's coal-fired power plants, including the heating plant at UW-L, purchase coal from companies that engage in mountaintop removal.

"How would we feel if our bluffs were destroyed right in our backyard?" asked Gragert. "Imagine if the tops of our bluffs were removed and a big company came in, got what they wanted, and then just left. That's what's happening in Appalachia right now."

LaCrosse student activists suggested the use of natural gas as a "bridge" fuel while the state transitions to wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources.

"The bottom line is we need to conserve energy on this campus and all across the state, so we don't have to use as much fuelperiod," said Gragert.

Learn more about what the groups like the Sierra Student Coalition are doing to help move America beyond coal.

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