Campaign for Environmental Literacy Fills Critical Gap
by Dr. Jim Elder, Director, Campaign for Environmental Literacy
The Campaign for Environmental Literacy (CEL) was founded in 2004 to fully engage the federal government in closing the nation’s growing environmental and sustainability literacy gap. CEL provides leadership and coordination to catalyze advocacy efforts for environmental literacy, including: 1) enlisting champions in Congress and working with their staff to draft legislation, 2) lobbying Congress to increase appropriations for environmental education programs, 3) organizing coalitions of “grass-tops” stakeholder groups to push for passage, and 4) providing policy recommendations to Congress and federal agency officials.
Experience to date has confirmed our hope that environmental and sustainability education can attract bi-partisan and widespread support both within Congress and the public. CEL has succeeded in getting the University Sustainability Program authorized and two other bills have been introduced. In addition, CEL helped restore $80 million in environmental education funding cuts and increase this funding by $11 million. We have worked extensively with Second Nature, The American Association of Community Colleges, hundreds of ACUPCC members, and many others to make this all happen.
The following is an update on legislation and appropriations regarding sustainability and higher education.
New Programs That Have Become Law:
- The reauthorized Higher Education Act of 2008 created the University Sustainability Program (USP) to fund competitive grants to colleges and universities as well as higher education consortia, associations, and alliances for the purposes of establishing new or existing sustainability programs. (Many ACUPCC members were instrumental in getting this new program included in the HEA.)
- The Energy Independence and Security Act Section 471 created the Energy Sustainability and Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions (ESEGLI) program, which provides up to $500 million in loans and up to $250 million in grants annually for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to higher education institutions, public schools, and local governments.
Appropriations for the above:
While the House provided some funding for USP in the FY2010 appropriations bill, the Senate did not. We are working hard to try to keep the House funding in the final appropriations bill.
Recovery Act Funding:
- $2 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to “expand employment opportunities in fundamental science and engineering to meet environmental challenges and to improve global economic competitiveness.”
- Green Job Training: $500 million for a program of competitive grants for “worker training and placement projects that prepare workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy as described in the Green Jobs Act of 2007.”
- $9.76 billion of the Stabilization Fund for States is allocated for “public safety and other government services, which may include assistance for…modernization, renovation, or repair of public school facilities and institutions of higher education facilities, including modernization, renovation, and repairs that are consistent with a recognized green building rating system.” (Title XIV)
- Green Energy Education Act (HR 957) authorizes higher education curriculum development and graduate training in advanced energy and green building technologies.
- Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation Act (HR 1775) provides support to the Department of Education to fund development of career and technical education programs of study and facilities in areas of renewable energy.
- Global Warming Education Act (HR 1926) funds the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide education opportunities for all Americans, launch a national information campaign to promote solutions to global warming, and establish a competitive grants program for developing education materials.
- The Sustainable Energy Training Program for Community Colleges (formerly the Community College Sustainability Act) was included in the new energy bill (S 1462) recently passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. It would authorize $100 million/year for five years for workforce training and education grants from the Department of Energy to community colleges for renewable energy, efficiency, and green technology programs.
- Senators Murray and Snowe introduced an amendment to the 2008 Climate Security Act that dedicated 1%, or an estimated $1 billion/year, of the cap and trade auction proceeds to “education for a green economy” and related grant-making programs (such as USP). CEL is coordinating a “1% for Education” campaign to get this provision included in the new Senate climate change bill. With the possibility of $1 billion of dedicated revenue for sustainability education grantmaking annually for 30 years, this is a potentially game-changing opportunity for higher education. It simply will not happen without widespread support and involvement from colleges and universities across the country. Please consider becoming involved by endorsing the campaign and asking your Congressional delegation to actively support it.
For more information on sustainability legislation contact Dr. Elder at Elder@FundEE.org
Browse by Topic
- AASHE Biz
- Co-Curricular Education
- Community Engagement
- Connecting the Dots
- Dining Services
- Diversity, Access, and Affordability
- Faculty and Staff Development
- Government & Legislation
- Human Resources
- Presidents & Chancellors