In Unique Move, Sierra Club Sponsors Clean Energy Match-Ups at Indiana and Kentucky
Lexington, KY – As college basketball season heats up, the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization is getting in on the action sponsoring major conference games at Indiana University on January 12 and the University of Kentucky January 17. The Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Ups are meant to connect sports to the idea that dirty and dangerous on campus coal plants need to be replaced by clean and affordable solutions for the health of the players and the students.
More than 60 universities operate their own dirty coal plants right on campus posing a real health threat to students and the surrounding communities. “Aging coal plants on-campus release dangerous pollutants such as mercury, arsenic, lead and sulfur dioxide into the air and water. Instead of polluting their own campuses, and endangering the health of their students, schools like Indiana and Kentucky should be the nation’s leaders – investing in innovative clean energy technologies for the 21st century,” said Quentin James, National Director of the Sierra Student Coalition, the Sierra Club’s youth-led Chapter.
“With the Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Ups we’re showing our support for these top teams while urging the universities to be their best by protecting the health of students and local communities with clean energy solutions instead of polluting coal.”
Since the Sierra Club launched the Campuses Beyond Coal campaign 19 schools have committed to stop burning coal on campus. Both Indiana and Kentucky are missing from that list and lagging behind conference and regional rivals already moving off dirty coal including the University of Minnesota, Clemson and Western Kentucky University.
Game sponsorship is a new move for the Sierra Club and something usually reserved for larger corporate interests. However, the Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Ups highlight growing support for the organization’s mission to move college campuses, and the nation, beyond coal.
“On more than 40 campuses around the country over 40,000 students have joined the campaign to make sure their school makes the switch to clean energy,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “College students have been at the forefront of every major social movement in recent history and the drive to move our nation beyond coal towards safe, renewable solutions is no different. These student leaders show that young people want a cleaner, safer and healthier future for our nation.”
The Clean Energy Match-Ups, Indiana vs. Minnesota and Kentucky vs. Arkansas, are early conference games for both teams as they head into the most important stretch of the college basketball regular season.
“I grew up in rural Kentucky as a Wildcats basketball fan and now as a student I’m working to make sure UK is a real leader by investing in clean energy that will create good jobs here in Kentucky, boost our economy and mean healthier air and water for everyone,” said Patrick Johnson a senior at the University of Kentucky. “I couldn’t be more excited to see two things so important to me come together with the Sierra Club Clean Energy Match-Up here in Kentucky.”
The games will feature signs, giveaways and announcements from the Sierra Club in support of the teams and the universities. They’ll encourage students to send text messages to university administrators, take slam dunk photo petitions and combine their fanaticism for the team with their demands for clean air and a healthier campus.
“We hope to get more Hoosier basketball fans involved in making Indiana a leader off the court by retiring the coal plant on campus and replacing it with clean energy solutions. Moving off coal will mean cleaner air and a healthier campus that Hoosier fans can be really proud of,” said Megan Anderson a junior at Indiana University who has been co-leading the campaign to move IU beyond coal for the past two years.
The games kick-off the spring semester at both schools setting the stage for increased campus activity calling on campus administrators to switch from dirty coal to cleaner alternatives. Student fans will continue to see signs and advertisements saying, “Let’s Score One for Clean Energy” throughout the season on each campus.