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Opponents unite against proposed natural gas plant at Duke University — News & Observer

By Jane Stancill

Nearly two dozen environmental and community groups have voiced their opposition to a proposed Duke Energy natural gas plant at Duke University, which is now stalled in the state approval process.

Meanwhile, Duke Energy is going ahead with a similar but smaller plant at Clemson University in South Carolina, and a company spokesman said more campus power plants may be on the drawing board.

The opposition at Duke University appears to be mounting ahead of a trustee meeting in May where the issue will be considered. This week, four former deans of the university’s Nicholas School for the Environment wrote a letter to the editor of The News & Observer, urging the university to reject the plant.

“At a time when our nation’s policymakers are not focused on environmental protections, Duke’s leadership is needed more than ever,” wrote the former deans, Norman Christensen, William Schlesinger, William Chameides and Alan Townsend. “Duke’s recent proposal to build a new natural gas plant on its campus would send a dangerous signal to those that look to Duke as a model.”

The former deans instead recommended that the university invest in a grid-connected solar farm to meet its energy needs.

Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, said the university is continuing its review of the plant with faculty, students and staff, and that evaluation is expected to be done by May.

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