UH students fight Dynegy’s coal plans
The Sierra Club is trying to get UH students involved in its fight against Dynegy’s plan to build a coal plant near Houston.
Launched Feb. 20, the Clean Up Dynegy mission kicked off its effort Wednesday to bring the issue to the attention of UH students.
"I really believe in this issue," philosophy junior Jordan Ingram said. "It’s going to affect us in a big way. It’s just really important to get people aware. UH can help stop this."
The field organizer of the Sierra Club in Houston Emily Stone said the issue isn’t something that can be handed off to other people.
"Right now, no one’s really trying to stop it, so it’s up to us," Stone said.
Dynegy has proposed six different coal-fired plants in Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan and Nevada. One of these coal plants will be built in Riesol, Texas a small town near Houston. If Dynegy succeeds in building the plants, Dynegy will produce the most coal-fired energy in the U.S. and, according to the Sierra Club, it will be a major producer of carcinogenic and greenhouse gases that will have a direct effect on Houston’s air quality.
"One of the most important human rights is the right to clean air," biology freshman Linda Abad said. "I think it’s a good opportunity for UH students to do something good for their community."
David Byford of the Dynegy public relations department said that the coal plants are a part of Dynegy’s effort to have a well-rounded and balanced set of options to provide for the nation’s growing need for energy.
"We believe that the company as a whole should be looking at energy independence and taking measures to implement more responsible energy practices." Byford said.
Byford said that Dynegy is taking renewable energy sources such as solar energy and wind power into consideration, but the coal plants are a part of Dynegy’s effort to create a well-rounded balance of energy options. All the coal plants will have advanced emission control technologies that capture harmful atmospheric chemicals.
"Our focus is on having a well-balanced portfolio," he said. "What we want to do is be able to burn the least amount of coal and produce the most amount of electricity. A lot of other companies do not have these emission control technologies in their coal plants.
Mechanical engineering graduate student at Rice University Jerry Vera said clean-burning coal is a pipe dream.
"That kind of technology doesn’t exist yet," Vera said. "It’s a nice idea, but that still wouldn’t take care of the soot and the sludge that’s emitted from coal plants. That is not an acceptable answer."
The Sierra Club said it is planning a "fossil fools" event on April 1, highlighting the CEOs of various companies building coal plants.
The events are all leading up to the Dynegy shareholders meeting in Houston on May 14, where the Sierra Club will hold a rally.
For more information on these events and the Clean Up Dynegy campaign, visit www.cleanupdynegy.org.