Stop Bates College’s Support of Coal Industry

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Target: Bates College Board of Trustees

Goal: To convince Bates College to divest from the coal industry.

Bates College declares its policy on social investment as one which only utilizes companies that are “consistent with, or in support of the valuing of individual worth, safety, and a just community.” Phrased another way, the college is stating outright that it will only invest in companies that serve the common good of the public. This notion is admirable but sadly not ultimately being put into practice.

At present Bates College still holds strong ties to corporations engaged in the extraction and refinement of coal, including those that utilize mountaintop-removal methods. Until the board of trustees chooses to divest the college endowment from these corporations, the school will continue to operate contrary to its stated values. Coal and the companies involved with its extraction are environmentally harmful, drawing upon an archaic resource which schools like Bates College should strive to distance themselves from.

Bates devotes a significant volume of its resources towards educating students about the scientifically proven risks of climate change and the associated adverse social and environmental ramifications of mountain-top removal coal mining. To maintain ties to companies whose industry accounts for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions would seem completely contrary to what the school is teaching. Should Bates College truly wish to benefit public welfare by virtue of its investment associations there is but one solution; the school must free itself from those connected to an industry which, according to a 2012 American Lung Association report, kills roughly 13,000 Americans every year by mercury poisoning and an array of airborne illnesses.

The notion of college divestment from fossil fuels is growing in the national consciousness with several major colleges and universities taking part. It is time that Bates College counted itself among those by severing ties with coal extraction and refinement companies. Tell Bates to invest in the future by divesting in coal companies today.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Board of Trustees,

The Bates College policy on social investment is quite clear. In stating that the college will only invest in companies “consistent with, or in support of the valuing of individual worth, safety, and a just community,” the school is declaring its commitment to public welfare. This is an extremely admirable notion that would reflect extremely well on the overall values of the school were it able to be deemed completely accurate.

Unfortunately, as long as Bates College maintains strong ties to corporations which are engaged in the extraction and refinement of coal its policy of investing in support of public welfare cannot be considered valid. The only means with which Bates College can remain true to its policy is to divest in companies related to coal energy. Right now coal energy as it stands amounts for over 20% greenhouse gas emissions. Even more concerning is an American Lung Association report published this year which states that roughly 13,000 Americans die every year as a result of the coal industry. These deaths are caused by mercury poisoning as well as a myriad of airborne illnesses directly tied to the coal industry. Any industry that results in this much pollution, let alone thousands of deaths, cannot possibly measure up to Bates’ aforementioned policy.

The environmental destruction resulting from this industry also runs entirely contrary to the school’s efforts at dedicating resources towards educating students about the scientifically proven risks of climate change, as well as the adverse social and environmental ramifications of mountain-top removal coal mining. A school cannot teach one ideology while investing in another. If Bates College truly wishes to endorse environmental conscientiousness and serve the public good, it must divest in coal energy companies. The time is right to set an example by moving away from coal before it is too late.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

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