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Wash U hosts international energy symposium, draws criticism from local activists

(Photo: V. LaCapra)

By Veronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – Washington University in St. Louis is hosting an international symposium on the global future of energy.

U.S. Under Secretary for Energy Kristina Johnson spoke at the symposium's opening event.

She said that to meet the Administration's greenhouse gas reduction goal, the U.S. will need to improve its energy efficiency, increase its reliance on renewable energy and nuclear power, and invest in on technologies like carbon capture and sequestration.

"Because [the] reality is we have coal, we have natural gas, we have oil, and [they] currently [make up] 85% of our energy mix, so it's not conceivable [given] how historically long it takes to migrate from one source to another, that we're going to turn this off overnight."

The conference has drawn criticism from local environmental groups, who are holding an alternative energy forum.

Climate Action St. Louis and the Wash U student advocacy group, Green Action, are among the organizers.

Green Action co-president Arielle Klagsbrun says the groups are responding to what they see as the university event's over-emphasis on coal.

"Nowhere in this five-day symposium is there a discussion about wind energy. Nowhere is there a discussion about geothermal energy, or wave energy. They're just not talked about. It's clearly an agenda of coal."

Arch Coal, Peabody Energy, and Ameren are among the main sponsors of the Washington University symposium, which has a number of sessions on controversial "clean coal" technologies.

Other topics include solar energy, nuclear power, crop-based biofuels, and building design.


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