Millennials Demand 100% Clean Energy: Colleges Fire Up Against Coal Plants

By Rachel Fried, Natural Resources Defense Council

What does one hundred look like?  100 years old?  100 pennies?  100 books?  100 people?  Every year, kindergarteners at my elementary school were asked this exact question and their homework was to create a visual display with 100 items of their choosing.

What would 100% clean energy look like, feel like, smell like to you?  As fall-semester midterms quickly approach, college students across the country may be focused more on counting to 100.

This October, young people will unite and take action, challenging university administrators and local officials to move beyond dirty energy.  It is time for the voices of our generation to be heard and we demand 100% clean energy solutions.  We must build a cleaner, safer future.

The goal: 100% Clean: 100 Actions for Clean Energy


During the upcoming month, students will be organizing and hosting events to show politicians, corporations, and the country that it’s time to change.  No more excuses. Dirty energy is making us sick.

Last night, Mike Brune and Phil Radford, the Executive Directors of the Sierra Club andGreenpeace, kicked-off the 100 Actions campaign.  Talking on a national call with student organizers, Phil challenged our generation to speak out:

David can beat Goliath.  It doesn’t take a lawyer to fight for our future. It takes really committed moms and students and organizers to fight.  You give people hope.  The only way we’re going to win this is if students lead.  Students always lead social movements, and you guys are kicking ass!

The dirty energy we’re talking about is coal.  Coal is harmful at every step of its use- from mining and burning, to disposing the coal ash.  It destroys our forests, poisons our water, and pollutes our air.  Each year, coal pollution causes 12,000 emergency room visits and $100 billion in health costs.

Why, then, do more than 60 universities have coal-fired boilers on their very own campuses?

Michigan State University has one of the largest campus coal plants, burning more than 250,000 tons of coal every year.  That’s equal to the weight of 125,000 average sized cars.  That’s scary.

But MSU’s Beyond Coal campaign is fighting back.  Institutions of higher learning were designed to be centers of innovation- raising students’ awareness and leading the country to make the right choices.  Colleges must end their dependence on coal and switch to clean energy.

Plan a campaign.  Get people’s attention.  Wear a face mask to show that coal is toxic.  Make noise.  Register your action at  Talk about it: #100actions or #powershift.  Have Fun.  And never lose sight of your goal.

Let’s echo and actualize what we heard on the call last night: “We want President Obama to be forced to reckon with youth organizers.  We want to hold him accountable.  Great presidents will only be great leaders if there are great movements pushing them.”

We are that movement.  Please join me in pushing it forward.

Editor’s Note: This column comes to us as a cross post courtesy of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Author credit goes to Rachel Fried.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.


  • Reply December 26, 2011


    There is nothing wrong with wanting 100% clean, just make sure you are prepared to pay for it. nnModeration in all things… Our youth has not learned this yet.

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