Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coal to Trails?

I will have to strain to make this into a nonprofit lawissue, but it involves nonprofits and it's a matter that has been brewing in my community.

The issue is universities that burn coal to meet their power needs.  According to a storyl ast week in the Chronicle of Higher Education, they are coming under increased pressure from nonprofit environmental groups such as the Sierra Club to move toward alternative energy sources.

The issue and the story jumped out at me because my own institution, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, relies heavily on coal.  While Chapel Hill has agreed to work toward reducing its reliance on coal, critics are not satisfied with its commitment.

In the town of Chapel Hill, the coal burning has an ancillary effect on transportation.  To move the coal to the University power plant, there is a railroad spur that runs through the heart of town.  Bike commuters, including me, would love eventually to convert that rail spur into a bicycle commuter trail. 

So here is the plan: universities will reduce and eventually eliminate their dependence on coal, and the rail lines used to deliver that coal will be converted to bike trails. 


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