COLUMBIA — The flash mob wearing yellow Beyond Coal shirts leapt into action as the 1991 Euro-pop hit "Get Ready for This" blasted in the background.
The 20 or so students who converged at 12:21 p.m. Thursday on Lowry Mall wore the matching shirts given to them by the organization Coal Free Mizzou, which hosted the event.
Sarah Johnson, president of Coal Free Mizzou, said the event was meant to draw attention to the group's Black and Gold Clean Air Initiative for Homecoming. Members also plan to participate in the Homecoming parade Saturday morning.
Coal Free Mizzou puts most of its efforts into securing a promise from MU to stop burning coal in the MU Power Plant by 2020.
Drew Stiehl of Coal Free Mizzou said Webster and Washington universities in St. Louis were transitioning from coal.
According to Webster's newspaper, The Journal, the university gets its power from a coal-powered Ameren Missouri plant. Student representatives have recently proposed that the school commits to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Washington University and the Missouri University of Science and Technology supplement small amounts of total energy use with solar panels on several campus buildings.
Coal Free Mizzou does not promote an alternative to burning coal at the power plant, but members offered their personal thoughts.
“I’m from Illinois where about 50 percent of the state is powered by wind energy," Emma Heidorn said. "In Missouri, I think it’s somewhere around 1 percent of the total energy being used by the state.”
According to the American Wind Energy Association, 1 percent of Missouri’s energy was provided by wind power in 2010. *In the same year, 2.2 percent of Illinois' power was supplied by wind energy.
A new biomass boiler at the power plant, which is set to replace one of the older coal burners next fall, would reduce MU’s coal consumption by 25 percent. Johnson said it was a step in the right direction, “but there are better alternatives for Missouri like wind and solar.”
Coal Free Mizzou is part of the national Beyond Coal campaign led by the Sierra Student Coalition. In a November 2010 Missourian article, the Osage chapter of the Sierra Club said it did not think burning wood biomass was a better option than coal.
“We want people to know that we want change, and we have fun," Stiehl said. "We don’t just sit around crying over coal.”