Students call for clean energy in the St. Louis region

Embracing sustainable practices and clean energy directly aligns with the mission of Saint Louis University, whose motto boasts pursuing a higher purpose and a greater good. Students here at SLU have decided that now is the time to play a larger role in pushing for clean energy in the St. Louis region. We cannot continue to neglect the negative impacts coal power has on our health, on our environment and on future generations.  Local pressure is becoming extremely crucial, since the environment and our health are being jeopardized by decisions made at the federal level. Students from different universities in the St. Louis region are coming together to demand that our utility provider, Ameren Missouri, invests in more wind and solar energy. Washington University (WUSTL), Webster University, University of Missouri in St. Louis (UMSL) and SLU students have made commitments to work toward a cleaner future for our region because we see the importance and benefits of transitioning away from energy sources that do more harm than good. This coalition of students will be especially impactful since Ameren is currently creating their 20-year Integrated Resource Plan where they decide how they will invest in energy for the next 20 years. Students are finding ways to show that our community wants to invest more into clean, renewable energy sources—particularly wind and solar.

On the day that Ameren held a stakeholder meeting for their Integrated Resource Plan, SLU students decided to make a statement about clean energy by organizing together in the shape of a human turbine. By showing their support for clean energy, students are providing evidence that the community of St. Louis is willing to embrace clean energy. This statement was also a celebration of our student government passing public legislation stating the importance of SLU being a leader in pushing for clean energy in the St. Louis  region.

Our student representatives unanimously voted in favor of a bill that acknowledges that embracing clean energy would bring a public benefit to all people living in the St. Louis region. Transitioning to clean energy is not only an environmental issue, but also a public health and social justice issue; many lower income, black residents in St. Louis are statistically more affected by asthma than white residents.

This shift toward clean sources of energy in St. Louis would be responding to the widespread asthma rates in our region. St. Louis City has a childhood asthma rate that is three times higher than the national average, and it is proven that polluted air exacerbates asthma. Ameren Missouri’s Labadie coal plant is known to be one of the deadliest coal plants in the entire country due to its age and lack of pollution controls such as scrubbers, and yet Ameren is still holding onto this energy dinosaur. Students are encouraging the energy sector of St. Louis, and beyond, to use available innovative technology that improves quality of life.

Other student efforts that are taking place in St. Louis include Washington University student government working on a clean energy resolution, along with their long lasting divestment campaign that seeks to withdraw from any investments in fossil fuel. Thousands of SLU students have also embraced Ameren’s Pure Power Plan, that would ensure wind energy credits going on the grid to power all of our residence halls. UMSL students are also considering a resolution from their student government that would show school-wide support for clean energy in the St. Louis region. With all of these universities, student groups and individuals working together to push for clean energy for St. Louis, we are sending a stronger message to Ameren that clean energy is not a passing fad, but is something that people are willing to put extended time and effort into. This is our health, our environment and our future—these are not things that can or should be taken lightly.

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