Maine College Makes Green Pledge

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The tiny College of the Atlantic in Maine has vowed to offset all of its greenhouse gas emissions, making it the first college in the nation to seek to fully mitigate its impact on global warming.

The newly installed president, David F. Hales, said in his inauguration Sunday that the college will either cut the amount of fossil fuels burned in connection with campus activities or invest in emissions-cutting projects elsewhere to compensate. The school, which is in Bar Harbor and has about 300 undergraduates, will also offset emissions generated by student travel to and from campus.

"Just as all greenhouse gas emissions adversely affect the atmosphere, all emission reductions benefit it," Hales said in a statement. "What we put into the atmosphere in Maine can be offset by reducing emissions here and elsewhere, so that we are able to reduce our college's negative global warming impact to zero."

College spokeswoman Donna Gold said yesterday that the school is still calculating how much carbon dioxide it adds to the atmosphere each year.

Many colleges and universities have taken steps in recent years to reduce or offset their greenhouse gas emissions -- New York University announced Thursday that it plans to purchase more wind power than any college or university in the country-- but none has managed to fully compensate for the amount they emit annually.

Eliza Simon, national campaign organizer for the advocacy group Sierra Student Coalition, said, "The students of the College of Atlantic, who have worked to stop global warming, have now set an example for the more than 332 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada who are working to do the same."

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