"The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around"
--Senator Gaylord Nelson
Protection of the environment is not the sole purview of the Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources. Succinctly put by Senator Gaylord Nelson, "The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around", and, consequently, its protection is the responsibility of every state employee. The ultimate goal of the Governor's Green Government Council is to have every Commonwealth employee routinely integrate environmental considerations into his or her decisions and actions, regardless of agency mission and job function. Achieving this entails both responsibility on the individual employee's part and support throughout the organization's culture. Evidence of this kind of organizational change can be seen in the increasing substance and scope of agency activity, most notably in the Governor's comprehensive energy and clean fuel policies.
Department of Transportation's
ISO 14001 Certificate of Registration
for their district 2 engineering facility
At the individual agency level, the most formal approach to incorporating environmental responsibility has been taken by the Department of Transportation. It manages its responsibilities for the commonwealth's roads through 11 engineering districts which in turn manage 58 maintenance districts. The first state transportation agency in the nation to do so, the Department has achieved certification of its environmental management system in accordance with the International Standards Organization's (ISO) 14001 standard. The process, begun in 1997, was completed this year with the phasing in of the final districts. Major physical changes, resulting from the continuous improvement process required under the standard, include improved wetland preservation, erosion and sediment control and stockpile management at the maintenance units, and optimized use of anti-icing, de-icing and anti-skid materials.
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs' headquarters at Ft. Indiantown Gap has a long history of outstanding environmental performance, last year winning an unprecedented second Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence as well as the Clean Air Technology Category of the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Excellence Awards. With strong upper management support, the Department is now the second state agency to seek ISO 14001 certification. Environmental management plans are under development for all significant aspects of the military training program, providing guidance to trainees in all aspects of environmental control and land management. To support implementation of the plan, a multimedia awareness program is under development. It includes a web based training tutorial as well as contractor awareness briefings. A related environmental improvement and suggestion form has already saved energy, reduced costs and reduced air emissions.
The State System of Higher Education has enrolled all 14 of its member universities in the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy. The Consortium, supported by the Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources provides a forum for academia and government to collaborate on environmental policy and education. Its four committees focus on climate change and energy policy, human health and the environment, a sustainable Pennsylvania, and greening colleges and universities.
The State System also promotes environmental studies.
- California University's Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Earth Sciences provide distinct areas of specialization such as environmental conservation and ecology.
- Clarion University's Center for Natural Resources and the Environment serves as a focal point for regional environmental studies and outreach activities.
- Shippensburg University's Geography-Earth Science Department was recently named one of the 10 best undergraduate departments in the country by the Association of American Geographers.
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania is home to the National Environmental Education and Training Center of excellence whose mission is to perform research and training support on emerging environmental technologies as they relate primarily to the work force.
- Edinboro University routinely offers in excess of 300 individual courses in basic natural sciences across five departments and 30 majors.
- Slippery Rock University offers a number of programs dedicated to environmental issues. One of the more innovative requires all students in the elementary education department to take a compulsory ten-hour service-learning component called Teaching Math and Science. Students participate in a sustainability seminar that includes hands-on application of the material taught.
- The West Chester University Environmental Council underwrites the Robert B. Gordon Natural Area for Environmental Studies which supports various research programs between local watershed organizations, the Brandywine Valley Association and the Departments of Biology, geology and Geography.
Several universities within the State System actively encourage student leadership in environmental responsibility and advocacy.
- The student-led Clarion Awareness of Resources & Environment continues to promote energy conservation. Its most recent initiatives include researching the feasibility of bringing new forms of renewable energy to the campus and expanding its energy conservation competition to include all on-campus residence halls as part of the university's five percent energy reduction achieved by the university in 2005.
- Shippensburg University created an environmental steering committee which is working on recycling, paper reduction, and energy conservation. An environmental web page and a series of information bulletins are under development.