A survey measuring the attitudes of the University of Arkansas regarding the construction of a next generation coal plant near Texarkana, AR received support from 78% of the University community.
University freshman Walker Gragg remarked, ‘I was shocked. Whenever you hear about coal plants on campus, it is always in a negative light. This definitely dispels the myth that the university is completely against coal.’
The supporters of the new coal plant indicated a number of reasons for their support. Anonymous comments on the survey included, ‘Yes to more jobs!’, ‘Energy Independence now’ and ‘More coal, more nuclear’. University junior Brea Bartholomew said she voted yes because, ‘We need to use the resources we have. I know some groups on campus don’t think any coal should ever be used. But I’m ok with using coal responsibly. These new plants that use advanced technology to reduce pollution and green house emissions are the way to go, not an outright ban on an important energy source.’
The survey was conducted by Collegians For A Constructive Tomorrow, a student based group that advocates free market and new technology solutions to environmental problems. National Director Bill Gilles commented, ‘We see this a lot around the country where a small group of radical environmentalists claim their university is against new forms of energy ‘ particularly coal and nuclear. But the reality is usually much different when you actually ask the students, and that’s just what we did.’
The survey was conducted in reference to the planned construction of the John W. Turk Jr. ultra-supercritical coal fired power plant in Hempstead County Arkansas. The plant burns coal at a higher temperature than typical coal plants and uses a number of other mechanisms to reduce pollution. Because of these measures and the higher efficiencies of the plant, it will release less pollution, less particulate matter, and 3 million tons less of the green house gas carbon dioxide than a typical coal plant.
The survey was conducted February 24-25, 2010 in and around the Arkansas Student Union Building. A total of 1,231 surveys were conducted of University students and community members. 78.4% of survey participants indicated support for the new power plant. 20.5% of survey participants indicated opposition to the new power plant. Just over 1.1% of participants had no opinion.