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Missouri students attend country's largest climate rally in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, February 17, 2013 | 6:00 p.m. CST; updated 10:45 p.m. CST, Monday, February 18, 2013

COLUMBIA — More than 100 Missouri college students made the 15-hour drive to Washington, D.C. for the country's largest ever climate change rally.

Among the students that traveled to Sunday's Forward on Climate rally were 10 MU students, representing campus groups including Coal Free Mizzou, said Alex Rather, the group's president.

More than 35,000 people joined the march through Washington, D.C. to urge President Barack Obama to act on climate change and to stop the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

"The Keystone XL was the rallying point, but it was more about climate justice," Rather said. 

Earlier this year, members of Coal Free Mizzou joined other college students from across the state to discuss environmental issues at February's MO Love retreat, said MU junior Bo Mahr, a member of Coal Free Mizzou who attended the Forward on Climate rally.

It was at that meeting that students from several Missouri universities decided they wanted to attend Sunday's rally, Mahr said.

The groups began researching affordable ways to send students to the rally, he said. In the end, the group took two buses, one for students from Washington University in St. Louis and one for students from other Missouri schools. Rather said a group of Columbia community members also took a bus to the rally. 

Once in Washington, D.C., the group met up with students from the Sierra Club Student Coalition before joining the rally's thousands of other attendees in a march toward the White House, Mahr said.

The rally centered around the Keystone XL pipeline, but Rather said the biggest thing Coal Free Mizzou will take away from the rally is the energy and relationships with students they saw from other universities.

"The most important things we're taking back to the administrators is that all these other campuses watch what Mizzou does," Rather said. "From the information we've seen come out of the administration, Mizzou obviously sees themselves as a trendsetter and a leader and a pioneer."

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.


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