In the past few years, there have been multiple rollbacks by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under the Trump administration on legislation that was intended to preserve our environment. Oil and gas companies are no longer required to report methane emissions and hydrofluorocarbons – strong greenhouse gases that are allowed to be used in air-conditioners and refrigerators. Many University of New Hampshire (UNH) students are passionate about conserving the environment and are upset with the current federal government’s policies regarding the environment, especially when contrasting new policies at the federal level to those at UNH.
“I am particularly angry that Trump has recently allowed various greenhouse gases to be used by major power plants, which were just restricted under Obama. It doesn’t make sense to me why we’re going backwards when it comes to the environment,” sophomore Mary Skrzypczak said. “I feel very negatively about recent policies and I do not agree with President Trump’s views on the environment. I personally believe that global warming is very real and I wanted to come to UNH so I could be surrounded by people who feel the same way.”
Ecogastronomy major Caitriona Rocco has been “enraged” by recent shifts in legislation.
“It’s extremely frustrating to be at a school where action is being taken to prevent further degradation to our environment, but is held with such little importance within our government. HFC’s and other greenhouse gases are known pollutants so it doesn’t make sense why they are allowed to be used again,” Rocco said. “UNH has eco-friendly buses, has their own power plant, and spends a lot of money on making sure the campus is sustainable and friendly to our environment.”
Despite national changes, UNH has maintained its commitment to environmental protection across the campus.
“One of the first things I noticed when I came to UNH was how sustainable the campus and dining halls are,” Skrzypczak said. “They focus on limited food waste and some of the new classrooms were built with the environment in mind. It was definitely a deciding factor for me as a prospective student.”
In the summer of 2017, UNH earned Platinum rating within the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS), and became “one of only three institutions of higher education in the country” to achieve this level, according to the Sustainable Institute at UNH. STARS is based on a point system, and a university earns ‘points’ based on how sustainable their campus is, and creates objectives for institutions to make regarding sustainability.
UNH has multiple awareness programs integrated into campus to promote sustainable decisions and inform students and faculty about how energy efficient the campus is. On campus, there is a combined heat and power plant that helps to limit greenhouse gas emissions by using processed landfill gas instead, according to the University of New Hampshire home webpage.
Sophomore UNH student Shelby Ganem is a student environmental activist and has helped out at the annual Trash-2-Treasure sale on campus — a sale that takes place during move-in weekend that helps reduce UNH’s effect on landfills by selling used goods for apartments or dorms.
“It’s such an easy way to recycle old things that prior students have no need for anymore and can provide other students with items that they can purchase at a lower price. At the same time, we are helping out our environment by limiting waste and recycling whatever we can,” Ganem said.
“Methane is known to be a harmful greenhouse gas and it is infuriating when the government takes away restrictions on such a chemical that has such awful repercussions on our environment,” Ganem said.
Although UNH is regarded as a highly sustainable campus, the U.S. government is continuing to shift away from conservation policies.
“Even though the government may be doing little about climate change, I am beyond happy to be at an institution where action is being taken to protect our earth,” Ganem said.