It's the mineral that's pumped millions of dollars into southwest Virginia's economy, but not everyone is crazy about coal.
Environmentalists gathered on Virginia Tech's campus to protest coal, Wednesday afternoon.
The group takes issue with the coal plant that sits in the middle of campus, near dorm rooms; but, protesters say it's just one small-scale example of the much bigger issue of clean energy.
"Thomas Hall this is for you. Thomas Hall this is for you," chanted more than a dozen protesters.
Thomas Hall, the dorm closest to the Virginia Tech coal plant, got a quick clean by the protesters.
"There was a clear coating of dust everywhere. All over the walls, all over the windows, the floor” said Virginia Tech sophomore Jordan Hataway. “It’s gross and bad for their health.”
“What do we want? Clean energy. When do we want it? Now!” shouted protesters.
A dozen protesters, some dressed in hazmat suits, argued for the closure of the plant, citing health and environmental issues.
“It's not asking a lot, I'm just asking you to be concerned about my health,” shouted one student through a megaphone.
“It produces tumors and heart deficits," said senior Anna Bullen, an active member of Greenpeace. "And it's releasing mercury and carbon dioxide, which are all deadly pollutants.”
The university says it will begin phasing out the coal plant in 2050, which is just not good enough for the Greenpeace protesters.
“That's 38 more years of new freshman coming through this building," said senior Whitney Clark, another member of Greenpeace. "We want it changed now."
“You know what? The administration isn't going to be around in 2050," said Bullen. "They are just deterring it to another time and place, and we want them to hear us out and get that date shifted to now.”
The university says it's met with the students, but what they are asking is unrealistic.
In a statement, the university said they've allowed the students to review data, plans and studies on the coal plant. The university is looking at a holistic approach to it's energy usage, and right now, there aren't any other cost effective energy sources that can replace the coal plant, according to the statement.