NPR Coos Over 'Creating Passionate Environmentalists' To Pressure Colleges to Dump Coal Stocks

Today’s proof that National Public Radio is your taxpayer-funded rip-and-read press-release service for the Left: a Morning Edition story summarized as “College Divestment Campaigns Creating Passionate Environmentalists.”

Reporter Elizabeth Shogren compared Brown University's anti-coal campaign to anti-apartheid campaigns of the 1980s: “Students at more than 300 colleges in the United States are asking their school's endowment fund to distance themselves from any coal-producing companies.” NPR’s chasing after Rolling Stone and The Nation magazine in promoting the fight to stop "climate change" from baking Earth:

SHOGREN: Kirkland and about a dozen other students at Brown got the idea for their campaign in September from a Rolling Stone article by climate activist Bill McKibben. They could do what students of earlier generations did. In the 1980s, students outraged by South Africa's racist apartheid system got their universities to drop stock in the companies that did business with that government.

In the 1990s, student activists did the same with Big Tobacco. It's called divestment. This time, students are rallying against a mainstay of the economy: big oil and coal companies. Kirkland majors in environmental studies, so she knows a lot about climate change.

KIRKLAND: It was always something that felt abstract and academic, until this year when I started to witness the heat wave in the Northeast last winter, the wildfires in the West, the drought, Hurricane Sandy. It has started to feel like there's an emergency happening in slow motion, and it has started to feel really, really personal.

SHOGREN: The idea has taken off at about 300 colleges and universities. Four small colleges already have decided to stop investing in companies that mine coal or drill for oil. At Brown, Kirkland and other student activists are focusing only on companies that mine coal and produce electricity from it.

KIRKLAND: It's been really exciting for me to feel like this is the first time where I've seen how I can directly make a difference on my campus and force my administration to make a decision that could have reverberations around the country.

SHOGREN: Brown has an advisory panel on responsible investments. That committee considered the students' request, and after nine months, decided it agreed with them. Faculty member Chris Bull chairs the panel.

CHRIS BULL: What was decided was that mining and burning coal causes grave social harm, and that the committee did not believe it was good for Brown to be party to that.

NPR won’t be checking if these “dozens” of students are grass-roots or astroturf. Guess who else is thumping Brown to divest, as they tout on the BrownDivestCoal website: billionaire Tom Steyer, the “Koch Brothers” of the greens.

The only contrary words in the whole piece come from a Duke Energy spokesman who insists they’re very concerned about divestment, but had no criticism for the environmentalists: “People consider the brand of Duke as an asset, and I would agree with that completely. And if people see that the brand is somehow eroded in a meaningful way, that definitely can impact our stock.”


Shogren concluded where she began, touting a budding movement, leftists building careers by running down American energy production: 

BILL McKIBBEN: What's amazing is just to see this bubbling up from a thousand directions. I mean, they're taking complete charge of all this, and that's as it should be.

SHOGREN: And all that work they're doing is turning some of them - like maybe Emily Kirkland - into the environmental leaders of the next generation.

KIRKLAND: The divestment campaign at Brown was really the first time that I'd gotten involved in activism, and it's now something that I know I want to be doing for a long time, because I've seen that it's powerful. And I know that it's the most - one of the most important things I could be doing right now.

SHOGREN: Kirkland has a job lined up as a climate change activist after she graduates later this month. The earliest Brown could make a decision is around graduation day. Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News.

The greens at Brown (along with McKibben) were also promoted in December by the public-radio show Living On Earth.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis