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Students protest against coal

By Jeff Steele
On February 22, 2010

Students gathered last Thursday afternoon to protest the devastating impact of mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachian Mountains. This technique involves blowing off tops of mountains to reach rich coal deposits underneath, then dumping tons the waste rock into valleys and streams below.

The "No More Coal" demonstration took place next to UW-L's heating plant just after trucks delivered a load of coal.

Jeremy Gragert, a UW-L graduate student, partially submerged himself in a mountain of snow and threw black garbage bags out of the top to represent coal. He also destroyed a small replica village with a fake coal mixture.

UW-L and fourteen other state-owned plants currently burn coal supplied through a contract with Massey Energy and Alpha Natural Resources, companies that use mountaintop removal methods that damage natural areas, ecosystems, rivers and streams, and people and communities of Appalachia.

With universities leading the way to discovering alternative energy sources, some students feel it is their job to lessen Wisconsin's dependence on coal.

Gragert concluded the demonstration saying, "our message to the governor is that we want those contracts to end, and we want to stop burning coal in the state.

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