The Dernogalizer

September 19, 2008

The University of Maryland Gets It Done

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 4:36 pm
Tags: , , ,

So the first activist campaign that I was ever a part of was in the spring of 2007 when I joined the student group on campus “UMD for Clean Energy”. What we were demanding was that our university pay for 100% renewable energy by 2010. Note the distinguishment here is that paying for clean energy is different than supplying your energy from 100% clean energy sources. Buying renewable energy credits isn’t perfect, but it’s not shallow like some detractors like to argue. Buying renewable energy credits provides a market for a wind turbine in the Midwest or a solar baseload plant in Arizona or Florida. Our University’s contribution to these projects which supplant what would be a dirty energy source effectively is a carbon offset because carbon would be burned without purchase of the credits.

We gathered thousands of petition signatures from students who said they were willing to see a small increase of a few bucks in their tuition in order for the University of buy 100% clean energy. We said we wanted this implemented by 2010. Some people laughed. Then the student body voted for a SGA resolution during the elections asking them if they’d support paying a few extra bucks a year for 100% clean energy. 91% of the student body voted in favor. It was a great message, but only that because the student body and the SGA can’t force the University’s hand. Now, a year and half later, the University has made good on the students’ demand for 100% clean energy. You can read in this article here. The slight fee increase may or may not pay for 100% clean energy, but it’s definitely fantastic to see the University taking these steps. As the first thing I ever got involved in, it shows me that activism does work. This is not the last step to sustainability for UMD. It wasn’t the first thing we achieved. But it’s the culmination of a campaign the group I was part of ran 18 months ago. It does feel pretty sweet.

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