After clocking out of my first job and getting ready to step out of Pervical Hall on the Evansdale Campus at WVU, I decided to go pick up the school newspaper to see what was happening around campus. What I saw on the front page
of the paper kind of shocked me. The title of the article was "W. Va. least green state in nation." I had to step back a few minutes to make sure I was really reading this correctly, and surprisingly enough, I was.
It turns out that West Virginia ranks dead last from the Forbes list, while Vermont (congrats) had the highest honor. So our "Almost Heaven" really isn't that heavenly.
This is the first time that Forbes ever compiled a list like this one; it is based on our impact on the environment by looking at the consumption patterns, air and water quality, and waste.
The top three (Vermont, Oregon and Washington) had very low carbon dioxide emissions per capita and strong policies which help to promote energy efficiency and high air quality. Another item that Forbes pointed out is that most of the buildings in those states received the U.S. Green Building Council's benchmark certification. Those states that landed at the bottom of the list (Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana and West Virginia), all have been suffering from a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption. Forbes goes on to say that there are no clear plans to do anything about it.
What Forbes doesn't know is that West Virginia is trying to clean up the mess that has been created. Yes, okay, so we scored in the bottom five in both water quality and carbon footprint (as it states in the school newspaper), but that is changing over time. There are many groups on volunteering bases that go out to streams and monitor what is going on with them. Friends of Deckers Creek
has been doing this for many years now by working with Acid Mine Drainage streams. Some of the streams that were extremely bad have seen some improvements through liming, though unfortunately they only last for three years and then have to be reapplied.
What will help even more to get out of the bottom of Forbes' list is getting the schools involved. WVU has been "going green" for the past couple of years since I have been here. There are recycle tubs going up everywhere on campus. WVU has even set up a "GO Green" program for all the dorms and off campus housing, where students can compete to see who can recycle the most in one month or semester. There are also school organizations that are trying to make a difference here for the campus. Many of these groups of participated in campus cleanups, and some of them have even helped out local organizations.
The Wildlife Society has done cleanups in parks, stream monitoring, and also been making the public aware of what can be done to go green. The Society of Environmental Professionals has gone out to Canaan Valley a couple of times to plant trees and build a handicapped fishing pier. Plus, the Society of Environmental Professionals got the community to come out and find green ways to go to the grocery store instead of using their vehicles. They are planning on doing this event again for the upcoming school year.
So Forbes, have you looked at what schools are doing in West Virginia to help out the environment? I don't think so.