BGSU environmental group not discouraged by demand denial PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN/Sentinel County Editor   
Thursday, 28 March 2013 08:29
File photo. BGSU students gather during an environmental rally last week. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Environmental activists at Bowling Green State University recognize the school is taking steps to toward clean energy. But those steps are just too slow and stop too short for members of the Environmental Action Group who collected more than 2,700 student signatures asking BGSU to transition to 100 percent clean energy by 2020.
So Tuesday, seven members of the group met with BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey to push the issue again for wind, solar and geothermal energy.
Mazey denied the request, telling the students their goals were unrealistic.
“The students were disappointed, but not discouraged,” said Josh Chamberland, president of the EAG.
“She is saying ‘no’ to the students and the students’ future,” he said after the meeting with Mazey.
Last October, Mazey signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment along with many university presidents across the nation. The agreement commits BGSU to becoming “carbon neutral” by a date that has not yet been determined.
BGSU is also looking at other ways to reduce its carbon footprint. The short-term goals of the energy agreement signed by Mazey call for the university to reduce waste immediately by examining how to recycle more and use landfills less. All new buildings will qualify for energy and environmental design rankings. New appliances must have energy star ratings. And expansion of BGSU bus transportation will be studied.
“Bowling Green State University has demonstrated its resolve to reduce its carbon footprint by signing the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. We are currently developing the plan to meet that promise,” stated BGSU Spokesperson Dave Kielmeyer.
File photo. Josh Chamberland, president of the EAG, during last week's rally on campus.
The university has three years to come up with a plan for carbon neutrality. While that may not mean the 100 percent use of clean energy, it will seek a balance.
But that is not good enough for the student activists. Not only does it move too slowly, but it also sets the bar too low, Chamberland said. The plan’s overall goal is “carbon neutrality,” which would still allow the university to get energy from coal-burning plants.
“Clean coal is a dirty lie,” Chamberland said, comparing the energy source to outdated technology that still releases pollutants.
While the university has made a commitment to the climate plan, officials have also said any changes must be affordable. Chamberland said there is no way to know those clean energy costs unless BGSU conducts some feasibility studies.
“We’re going to keep fighting this fight regardless of what the administration says,” he said. “This is our future.”
But Kielmeyer said BGSU will not make any more clean energy commitments now.
“We appreciate the passion of the members of the Environmental Action Group. However, given the complexity of achieving carbon neutrality, the university cannot commit to an arbitrary deadline,” he said.
Chamberland said Mazey’s response was not a surprise.
“We kind of expected a ‘no.’ It is ambitious and we know that,” he said. “But nothing is too hard. We just have to make it a priority.”
But he said the students felt their voices were heard by the administration.
“I felt like they listened and they were definitely receptive,” Chamberland said. However, “they were really hesitant to lay down a plan or any commitment.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 March 2013 11:34

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