• The Campus Vanguard

Bucknell 2030? Retire the Cogen Plant!

Updated: Nov 18, 2019

This message comes from members of the Bucknell Community

To sign the petition go here:

We—the undersigned faculty, students, staff, and friends of Bucknell—highlight the responsibility that Bucknell University has in doing its part to mitigate the existential threat of the climate crisis by first ending our reliance on fossil fuels for energy. In an age of climate change, Bucknell's mission to "educate our students to serve the common good and to promote justice in ways sensitive to the moral and ethical dimensions of life" is bound to be incomplete if our campus continues to rely on an energy matrix that exacerbates climate injustices and fails to acknowledge our ethical responsibilities to future generations and the nonhuman world. Meeting our mission requires retiring our campus fossil-fuel fired power plant and we ask the university administration to begin this process.

Background & Rationale: In 2008, Bucknell made a commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2030. Currently we are not on track to meet this goal. Even if we met our promise, a neutrality commitment is inadequate for reducing our share of fossil fuel consumption to help avert the worst manifestations of climate change. Pennsylvania, like the rest of the world, is already experiencing these impacts.

In light of the now undeniable short window for climate action, other universities have shifted away from carbon neutrality to pledge to zero carbon. They are already decarbonizing by ending campus fossil fuel consumption, switching their main power source to renewables—such as parking lot and rooftop solar—in order to meet moral, financial, and educational responsibilities as institutions of higher education and contributors to climate change. Instead, at Bucknell, the use of carbon offsets—which entail continuing to burn fossil fuels for our energy and heating while paying others elsewhere to reduce their consumption—raises serious equity and climate justice concerns. Additionally, the finances on offset credits are rapidly changing; soon it may be more costly to pay for offsets than to shift our own fuels to on-campus generated renewable sources.

We ask that the university institute significant change in how we consume fossil fuels on campus, starting with the biggest contribution to our carbon footprint, the gas-fired cogeneration power plant. Students, faculty, and staff have raised the issue of retiring the cogen plant for almost a decade, and it is time to begin. We call on the Provost, the President, the Associate Vice President for Facilities and Sustainability, and the Board of Trustees to commit to shutting down the fossil-fuel cogen plant and building alternative sources of energy by 2030 as the first tactic under the existing priority for environmental sustainability in the strategic plan. Our strategic plan pledge to be a sustainable campus—environmentally, socially, and financially—necessitates that we alter how we fuel our campus. Climate reality requires that we make this change within the next ten years.

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