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Sierra Coalition calls for OU to divest from fossil fuels

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Images, banners and chalk messages cropped up around Ohio University’s main campus on Wednesday for an initiative by the OU Sierra Student Coalition calling for OU to divest from its fossil fuel industry ties.

The initiative is a joint effort with the Ohio Student Climate Resistance (OSCR) and is aimed at standing up against fossil fuel industries. The actions follow an announcement by the Trump administration last week “to remove existing environmental protections and slash proposed funding to the EPA.” Appalachian Ohio has historically been a major source of coal for the country, and fracking has become a major enterprise in the Athens area.

The coalition criticized the university for playing up single-stream recycling and other environmental efforts on campus while still investing in fossil fuels in its endowment portfolio.

“Right now, on a global level, we are facing human-driven climate change; OU’s ties to fossil fuels is a direct investment in the deterioration of our planet. These are not alternative facts,” Sierra Student Coalition President Winter Wilson said.

Worry about the environment has surrounded several recent fracking endeavours near Athens, specifically in Wayne National Forest. More than 1,100 acres were auctioned off late last year, and an intent to sue was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Ohio Environmental Council, Heartwood and the Sierra Club on Jan. 26.

“On a more local level, OU is invested in companies actively fracking in Appalachia,” Wilson said. “It is more important than ever that we take the initiative of creating a greener future in our own hands. We can start here with divestment from fossil fuels at OU.”

The messages and movement are the start of a week of action by the Sierra Club and OSCR across the state.

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