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Colby Honored on Earth Day with EPA
Colby College was honored in Boston Thursday with an Environmental Merit Award from the New England Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The award recognizes exceptional work and commitment to the environment in 2003. "Colby College is 'walking-the-talk' when it comes to combining strong academic environmental programs with tangible actions to reduce the environmental impact of its campus operations," the agency said in a press release.
"EPA's Environmental Merit Award is an annual award that recognizes outstanding environmental advocates who have made significant contributions toward preserving and protecting our natural resources," according to a letter from EPA Regional Administrator Robert W. Varney to the college. Eleven people or organizations in Maine received Environmental Merit Awards Thursday (see list).
Professors Russ Cole and Tom Tietenberg, directors of the environmental science and environmental studies programs respectively, and Director of Safety Bruce McDougal went to Faneuil Hall in Boston on Thursday for the presentation, but college officials credited a broad effort on campus by students, faculty and administrators for this latest recognition that Colby has received for its commitment to sustainability both in campus practices and in its outstanding environmental studies programs.
Mitchell Family Professor of Economics Thomas Tietenberg, director of Colby's Environmental Studies Program, said Colby has gained recognition as a national leader in sustainability based on both the academic work that students are doing, such as monitoring and reduction of energy use and harmful emissions, and the work of the Environmental Advisory Group (EAG). The EAG was formed three years ago to advise Colby's president and the community on issues related to environmental stewardship of the campus and region. It includes students, faculty and administrators. Recent initiatives where the EAG played a role include:
On the academic side, Colby's environmental studies program, one of the nation's oldest, was expanded and restructured last year to offer even stronger programs in environmental science and environmental policy. The program entails considerable community outreach, including a focused course where seniors collaborate with local and state officials to analyze the water quality of area lakes and to make recommendations for remediation.
For more than 20 years students in that course have analyzed a lake watershed each year and presented findings to lake associations and the Department of Environmental Protection. This year Daniel Dubord of the China Regional Lake Alliance wrote, "Having been in the water quality 'game' for many years, I've seen a lot of studies done by so-called professionals that didn't even come close to reaching the detail and professionalism that was exhibited in the report by your students."
The EPA Environmental Merit Award follows a Maine Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence that Colby received in 2002. And the work continues. Tietenberg, an architect of emissions trading markets used worldwide to reduce pollution, said a student researcher is continuing an elaborate emissions inventory study. Among other projects the EAG is planning to pilot a biodiesel alternative fuel test and students are using new energy-efficient washers and dryers installed this winter and expected to save $10,000 a year in energy costs.
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