There goes your tuition

Written by

Damn those feds! The New York Sun reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has slapped Columbia with a $135,000 fine for failing to test sulfur levels in fuel used for the central steam plant, pushing emissions past levels set by the Clean Air Act. Which means it’s a little harder for us all to breathe in this sweltering humidity-fest.

Bwog is confident this was just an innocent mistake. But the news comes after a damning story in the Chronicle of Higher Education telling of how a University-owned research vessel killed whales with the noise from their air guns in the Gulf of California. People complained and the experiment stopped, but that won’t bring the whales back to life!

All a little ironic, considering this summer’s launch of a new site dedicated to promoting environmental stewardship on campus. “Together, our faculty and staff are committed to ensuring that Columbia University is run in an efficient and environmentally conscious manner,” says PrezBo.

Walk the walk, guys.

Tags: ,


  1. somehow

    i doubt jeff sachs will be pryed away from angelina jolie's teat for this small time news

    but sustainable development for some, american flags for others!

  2. sulfur in fuel  

    Last year, Columbia facilities was approached about switching their generator and steam plant diesel fuel to biodiesel at an actual cost savings. This would reduce all greenhouse gas emissions as well as lowering the sulfur content from 500ppm to 10ppm. They would have saved about 5 cents per gallon. They weren't interested.

  3. efficient

    my ass. nothing about the way columbia is run is efficient.

    • the problem  

      with columbia is nobody is really in charge, except for a bunch of mid-level administrative types that call random and arbitrary shots. although lee bollinger is a powerful man, he doesn't have the time to constantly keep watch for them making stupid decisions.

      also, the stall tactic has proven most successful. wait until they graduate. that is why, if you haven't made progress by april 15th, you need to start a riot.

      • beats harvard

        after the faculty there stormed the bastille and ousted larry summers, it's totally rudderless. they don't even have set curricula and no one knows how to graduate. we should be so lucky to have a bureaucracy that's only slightly incompetent.

      • columbia

        is like a feudal state. lots of independent fiefdoms each with its lord of the manor and his loyal minions. theres nominally a central monarchy but really their influence only extends as far as those in the room with them, and no further down the ladder of power.

  4. obtuse administration

    is there any way to break down their wall of stubborn ignorance (besides, you know, storming low and inviting a mass police beat-down)...?

  5. schadenfreude

    the sun hates us. they revel in this shit.

  6. DHI

    Damn, isn't the current clean air act supposed to be easy to comply with too? Or is that the new clean water?

  7. mark

    ~$140,000? That's, what, three years' tuition for one student? Small change.

  8. The Problem With Biodiesel  

    Is that although it may be more sustainable than plain old petroleum diesel, it releases higher levels of oxides of nitrogen. Overall, the other emissions cuts more than make up for NOx from an environmental standpoint, but NOx emissions are more heavily regulated than some of the other ones. This may have very well been the reason behind this supposed refusal to switch.

  9. methane in fuel

    Last night, I approached Columbia facilities and got close enough to touch its special facility. We discussed switching their generator and steam plant to use my methane as fuel in exchange for refunding my tuition. This would reduce all greenhouse gas emissions as well as lowering the sulfur content from 500 watts per nano to 10 hogsheads per parsec. They would have saved about 5 lira per burrito. They gave me the cold shoulder, erased my hard drive, and called my grandmom nasty names.

    I don't need to provide any citations or URLs though, you can just trust my anonymous posting.

  10. sulfur in fuel  

    4 columbia alumni have set up a biodiesel company - United Biofuels (now located in pennsylvania). They approached columbia facilities with 2 proposals. First, build a production facility (very small for columbia's needs ~ 400sqf) that would take used oil from Columbia food services and use it to make biodiesel. Columbia would provide the space, and would essentially get free fuel. Columbia balked at the idea of giving the space. United Biofuels then counter-offerred with a plan to distribute Columbia biodiesel at a cost reduction. Columbia said they would consider it, but never replied (despite several attempts to contact them).

    As for NOx emissions... that all depends on what type and year engine is burning the fuel. Those increases are often quoted from studies greater than 5 years old. New technology has been developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to reduce the NOx emissions from biodiesel.

    By the way, not that Columbia cares, but all of Harvard's buses run on 20% biodiesel.

    In reply to #12, you can e-mail me if you want more information.

    • #11 Again

      Biodiesel is definitely getting better all of the time, but it takes time for regulation to catch up with the technology, for example the EPA fuel economy standards that don't directly measure the amount of fuel consumed (see )

      My only point in bringing up the NOx is that even a well-meaning, environmentally conscious organization (not that Columbia necessarily is one) might have a valid reason for not embracing biodiesel.

  11. three guesses  

    on who passed this along to bwog.. and the first two dont count.

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.