IUPUI Students and Professors Urge School Administration To Lead On Clean Energy, Public Health

Present 1,000 petitions urging Chancellor Bantz to tell IPL to move beyond coal to clean energy


WEBWIRE – Wednesday, March 12, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - With Indianapolis Power & Light’s (IPL) Harding Street coal plant in the background, a coalition of IUPUI students and professors presented nearly 1,500 petitions and coalition list of over 30 faculty and representative groups to Chancellor Charles R. Bantz on Wednesday, urging him to call on IPL to stop burning coal in Marion County by 2020 and invest in clean, renewable energy. Photos from the event can be seen below.

“As a leading university in the community whose values include public health, social justice, and environmental stewardship, IUPUI should lead in calling on our utility to stop burning coal in our city” said Courtney Duff, an IUPUI sophomore. 

The petitions were collected by IUPUI students from fellow students, faculty and staff on campus. IUPUI is the largest university in Indianapolis and the state’s pre-eminent institution for public health and medical education.

“As a physician, I see patients from lower socioeconomic and medically underserved neighborhoods, and one of the most frequently prescribed medications in our office is an inhaler that asthmatics use to relieve shortness of breath,” said Dr. Stephen Jay, a local physician and Professor at the Fairbanks School of Public Health. “It is sad to consider that, in 2013, preventable air pollution in Indianapolis contributes to suffering, disability and death of our friends, co-workers, and neighbors.”

Under Chancellor Bantz’s leadership, IUPUI launched the Fairbanks School of Public Health and the world’s first School of Philanthropy. The Fairbanks School of Public Health “is committed to the principles of equality, shared decision-making, and a focus on the social, biological and environmental determinants of health which are central tenets of healthy communities and social justice,” according to the school’s website. “We embrace collaborative and participatory activities as a means of working collectively with other institutions and organizations in the community, across the state, nationally and internationally to ensure healthy communities and populations, a prerequisite for social justice.”

Indianapolis Power & Light’s Harding Street coal-fired power plant was responsible for 88 percent of the toxic industrial pollution released in 2012 in Marion County, according to information reported by IPL to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to EPA’s most recent Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data, the Harding Street plant released more than 1.6 million pounds of toxic pollutants into the air, land, and water in 2012, posing real public health threats to Indianapolis residents and those upwind and downstream from the plant. Data from EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory showed that the Harding Street plant emitted more total toxic industrial pollution from the plant in 2012 than it did in 2000.

According to EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History On-line (ECHO) database, the plant has also been shown to be in “significant non-compliance” with environmental safeguards at least since 2010. These violations include significant violations of the Clean Air Act for at least 12 quarters in a row, and non-compliance with the Clean Water Act for six quarters in a row.

“Coal based power plants inherently pose a risk to natural water bodies in the vicinity. Marion County desperately needs cleaner energy to protect the White River, the primary source of public drinking water supply in Indianapolis,” said Dr. Shahid Parvez, an Assistant Professor Environmental Health Science at the Fairbanks School of Public Health.

The IU School of Medicine on the IUPUI campus is the largest in the state. Approximately half of Indiana’s physicians received all or some of their education at the IU School of Medicine.



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