Approved by the WWALS Board by email 17 October 2013.
WWALS Watershed Coalition, a nonprofit group working for conservation of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, and Little River Systems, supports the fossil fuel divestment request of Students Against Violating the Environment (S.A.V.E.).
In addition to the points made by S.A.V.E., WWALS would like to add that oil and gas leaks run downhill in our watersheds, fracking for natural gas pollutes groundwater, and fossil fuel energy plants use massive amounts of water that could go for agriculture or drinking. Divestment from fossil fuels by VSU by itself won’t stop leaks or end fracking or shut down coal plants. But it will send a clear signal that our regional state university is leading the shift from fossil fuels to renewable solar and wind power with efficiency and conservation.
Fracking may seem distant, but right now there is a proposed natural gas pipeline from Alabama to Florida that threatens Georgia’s environment and Georgians’ property rights. We don’t want an exploding pipeline like just happened in Oklahoma.
Perhaps like Harvard President Drew Faust some don’t want to get academic VSU involved in politics. But all our investments are political, and there’s nothing neutral about funding climate wreckage. As S.A.V.E. put it in their letter:
"Social responsibility is part and parcel to the role of public goods. As a public good Valdosta State University has a responsibility to shape the debate about climate change through its voice, and fossil fuel divestment is another medium for that voice."
Plus VSU’s fund stands to gain by shifting to renewable energy, since solar stocks are skyrocketing while fossil fuels sit on zero.
Finally, VSU can urge Southern Company to use its largest private R&D operation in the U.S. and its tiger team on distributed solar and wind to cooperate with VSU in converting our economy to renewable energy.
VSU can lead south Georgia in leading the state, the region, and the nation in getting off of coal smoke and on with clean and profitable solar and wind, making south Georgia an attractive place for students, for jobs, and for conservation of our water.
Dave Hetzel, President
WWALS Watershed Coalition