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University of Iowa News Release


May 12, 2010

Mason joins other education leaders in call for reducing greenhouse gas

University of Iowa President Sally Mason and 14 other college and university leaders on Tuesday called on Congress and President Barack Obama to rewrite the nation's transportation policy so that the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is made a top priority.

secondnatureMason and her colleagues are members of the Second Nature National Transportation Task Force, a national, Boston-based non-profit organization that serves and supports senior college and university leaders in making sustainability the foundation of all learning and practice in higher education.

The task force is recommending major changes in U.S. transportation policy to advance clean energy goals, reduce the country's dependence on foreign oil, build healthy communities, create jobs and assure global competitiveness. Working closely with Transportation for America and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the task force drew on their institutions' recent experience as test beds for low-carbon transportation strategies to make their recommendations, which include:

* Make reducing GHG emissions a top-tier goal for transportation programs
* Make U.S. leadership in vehicle efficiency and cleaner fuels a national priority
* Structure transportation financing and pricing strategies to reinforce energy goals
* Expand transportation options to meet local needs
* Improve the condition and efficiency of our transportation system
* Encourage innovation and expand research, data collection and evaluation

A release issued by Second Nature today, giving greater details about the recommendations, may be found at

"As leaders of colleges and universities committed to sustainability, we understand the practical challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and other sources," said George M. Dennison, president of The University of Montana and co-chair of the task force. "We think the evidence clearly shows that our nation's transportation system does not currently have a sustainable course in any sense. Revenues have become inadequate even to maintain our current system, price signals lead to inefficient and environmentally damaging impacts, and we spend $1 billion a day for foreign oil. Congress must reshape national transportation policy to address these realities."

Mason said higher education can play a vital role in driving the discussion on sustainability for several reasons. First, major research universities like the University of Iowa have the knowledge base and expertise to explore and shepherd the development of new and improved sources of energy and methods of energy delivery and efficiency. Second, universities are preparing the next generation of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and other professionals who will help create a clean energy economy. And, third, as a complex organization that relies on a multitude of vendors to transport goods and services to campus, the UI can realize enormous savings if transportation costs go down, efficiency goes up and energy sources can become more sustainable.

"The vision of the task force plays to the strengths of the University of Iowa and other top universities and dovetails with the our ongoing ambition to become a leader in sustainability research, education and practice," Mason said.

Dave Ricketts, director of the UI Parking and Transportation, said the UI has employed two broad strategies in its efforts to reduce Green House Gas Emissions on campus: reducing miles traveled by commuters coming to, from, and moving about campus; and by reducing the GHG emissions per mile traveled by university-owned vehicles. Examples of those strategies in action include:

* CAMBUS, the no-fare transit system established by the UI in 1971, carried some 4 million riders over more than 800,000 miles on biodiesel. In FY 2011, CAMBUS will begin operating on B20 fuel (a mix of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel).

* Through its Commuter Programs, UI Parking and Transportation has supported an employee van pool system since 1978. In FY 2009, the program operated 85 vans at its peak, transporting 881 staff members to work and reducing overall commuter miles traveled by 9 million annually. A transit pass program reduces single-occupant commuting by more than 2 million miles annually, and the UI supports bicycling on campus by providing more than 5,000 modern bike parking spaces for free.

* In FY 2009, 253 of the UI's fleet of 680 vehicles were powered with flex fuel engines. The UI also operates 18 hybrids and eight fully electric light duty vehicles.

"CAMBUS, bicycles and walking are important in our efforts to deal with on-campus mobility while our commuter programs are how we reduce commuting miles," Ricketts said. "The university's use of alternative fuels in its fleet, the use of more fuel or emission efficient engines, right sizing vehicles and operational policies are ways to reduce emissions per mile traveled by UI vehicles."

In the coming months, the task force will be reaching out to other leaders in higher education to engage their support and expertise to advance the task force's recommendations and elevate the national dialogue about transportation policy, energy and climate goals.

"Across the country, colleges and universities are leading the nation in pursuing economic, social and environmental sustainability," said Tony Cortese, president of Second Nature. "These higher education leaders are now focusing attention on the policy choices facing the nation to make our transportation system support these goals. I urge Congress and the Obama Administration to take their recommendations to heart."

In addition to Mason, members of the task force are Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon University; George M. Dennison, president of The University of Montana; John M. Dunn, president of Western Michigan University; Jonathan Gibralter, president of Frostburg State University; Dan Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at the University of California-Berkeley; Patricia Keir, chancellor of the Eastern Iowa Community College District; Steven Knapp, president of George Washington University; Bruce Leslie, chancellor of The Alamo Colleges; John W. Mills, president of Paul Smith's College; Jamillah Moore, president of Los Angeles City College; Judith A. Ramaley, president of Winona State University; Rosalind Reichard, president of Emory and Henry College; Earl S. Richardson, president of Morgan State University; and Wim Wiewel, president of Portland State University.

More information about Second Nature is available at

Transportation for America ( ) is a broad coalition of more than 400 national, state and local organizations, focused on creating a 21st century national transportation program. The coalition's goal is to see America build a modernized infrastructure and healthy communities where people can live, work and play by aligning national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACTS: Tom Moore, University of Iowa spokesperson, 319-356-3945,; Don Ryan, Second Nature, 703-508-0035 or; Paula Chrin Dibley, Transportation for America, 202-478-6138 or