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The Green Life: Mixed Greens: 3 Colleges Confused About Which Side They're On

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August 27, 2010

Mixed Greens: 3 Colleges Confused About Which Side They're On

While researching Sierra magazine's "Cool Schools" issue, we came across universities affiliated with some environmentally egregious actionsbut that were doing positive things as well. We didn't know what to make of all that, so we'll leave you to make a judgment call.

ON THE ONE HAND: Connecticut's University of Bridgeport got slapped with a $12,900 fine from the EPA in February for improperly storing and handling PCBs, a class of pollutants that Congress banned in 1979. The violation was discovered when PCBs from two power transformers leaked onto university grounds.

ON THE OTHER: Bridgeport holds an annual "Recycle Awareness Week" and cohosts an annual green-technology conference. The school also offers an environmental-health specialization.

ON THE ONE HAND: The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville's board of advisers includes retired Tyson Foods CEO Greg Lee. Tyson has spewed more than 3 million pounds of toxic waste into Illinois's Rock River, where many threatened and endangered species live. Tyson also pumped 5 million gallons of inadequately treated wastewater into the Missouri River daily, an action for which the company was fined $2 million.

ON THE OTHER: The university is aiming to become a carbon-neutral, zero-waste institution "as soon as it is practical," according to its website. The school's Applied Sustainability Center, funded by Wal-Mart, is designed to help consumer-goods industries become more environmentally responsible.

ON THE ONE HAND: South Dakota State University president David Chicoine sits on the board of Monsanto, the agricultural-biotech giant responsible for creating more than 56 Superfund sites, producing some 90 percent of the world's genetically modified seeds, and mass-producing Agent Orange and DDT.

ON THE OTHER: South Dakota's government requires state university campuses to comply with LEED silver standards for all new buildings, and SDSU offers a major in environmental management.

--Nicholas Mukhar and Avital Binshtock

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