The Vision of Vern and Earl

With an historic drought in the South, fire in the West, and economic transformation in the Heartland, a small band of United States Representatives have introduced a proposal to teach America's college students how to innovate a development strategy that simultaneously grows jobs and the economy while protecting the nation's increasingly valuable natural assets.

The proposal, spearheaded by Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Vern Ehlers, a Democrat from Oregon and a Republican from Michigan respectively, would authorize $50 million in federal grants for 2008 to keep the nation's universities on the cutting edge of new research, policies, and technologies in the emerging field of sustainablility.

The proposed Higher Education Sustainability Act of 2007 would also provide funding for institutions to ramp up recycling, energy conservation, and other green practices, as well as convene a summit of the nation's top education leaders on the philosophy and practice of sustainability.

"The need for innovative approaches to sustainable development becomes critical to our economic competitiveness, environmental health, and the strength of our communities as population growth, urban development, and extreme weather incidents place greater stress on ecosystems around the globe," Rep. Blumenauer said in a recent speech introducing bill 3637 on the House floor.

"Society will reap the benefits of the excellent return on investment gained by educating students in sustainable practices” Vern Ehlers added in a press statement. "Students graduating from universities that take advantage of this grant program will not only implement the concepts they learn in their own lives. They will approach their career with a sustainable mindset that will benefit the companies and non-profit institutions they work for, and our nation’s economy as a whole.”