by Joe Kyrzston
On April 7, and April 8, Roanoke College students were active in the fight against climate change.
The second annual climate change teach-in was held on April 7, and a number of students came down to the basement of Fintel library to discuss the issue. Dan Cohen, the energy specialist on campus, explained the processes by which he saves the school energy. Following that, Dr. Valerie Banschbach, chair of the environmental department, had a few words to say as well. Primarily, however, students used the event as an opportunity to promote the work done by clubs on campus.
“We’re really making progress, a lot of progress” said sophomore Jane Rice, speaking on behalf of the Roanoke College Garden, “We’ve planted in some of the beds, we’ve made a lot of progress on our path, and we’ve got a new schedule of three work days a week.”
Representatives from Earthbound were also on hand to talk about recycling initiatives and the recent push for a sustainability coordinator.
“We had a really successful earth week,” said sophomore Holly Morrison, co-president of Earthbound, “Now our big focus is on getting a new sustainability coordinator hired. We’re trying to get that done really soon because the director of the recycling program is stepping down. It’s been done on a voluntary basis for a long time, and it’s time to have a full time director. That’s a lot of work for one person to do as a volunteer.”
The next day, Banschbach along with Dr. Marwood Larson-Harris, took a student group to the University of Virginia for the Virginia Power Dialogue. The Virginia Power Dialogue was one of 40 similar events taking place in states across the country. The focus of the dialogue was to pressure states to adopt the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The plan requires a 30% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
Among the RC delegation was Junior Mackay Pierce, who spoke on behalf of the school on a panel discussion. The other panel members were representatives from Virginia Tech, William and Mary, Hollins, James Madison University, the University of Virginia, the University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, as well as one student from Harrisonburg High School. Answering student questions were David Paylor, the director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and Angela Navarro, Virginia’s Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources.
Making note of RC’s location in southwest Virginia, which is historically an area of high coal production, Pierce’s question, paraphrased for clarity, was “How can southwest Virginia move away from coal and towards clean energy?”
Pierce then asked a follow-up question, which asked for more specificity. Emphasis was then placed on wind production, with frequent mention of the Rocky Forge wind farm, which has been proposed in nearby Botetourt County.
The proceedings were respectful and professional, and Pierce, who has prior lobbying experience, remained cordial throughout.