On April 26 Indiana University of Pennsylvania held its inaugural ceremony to officially welcome Dr. Michael Driscoll as the university’s president. In his inaugural address President Driscoll called on IUP to be a leader in western Pennsylvania, stating that the university had a unique responsibility and the expertise to act in that capacity.
One area in which President Driscoll made a clear commitment was in the development of sustainable natural resources. In his words, “Sustainable natural resource development is something in which IUP must be involved ... responding to a growing demand for more information on energy development and guidance on how to use it profitably and safely.”
First, I want to applaud President Driscoll on his inauguration as well as his commitment to taking a leadership role in the region. Given how central both energy development and a clean environment are to our commonwealth’s continued survival and success, I believe President Driscoll nailed it on the head when he called on IUP to be a leader is sustainable resource development. However, it is not just IUP that has a part to play in the challenges ahead; all of us living here in western Pennsylvania have a responsibility to take action.
On Wednesday several representatives of PennEnvironment, myself included, will be canvassing Indiana. PennEnvironment is Pennsylvania’s largest grassroots nonprofit for environmental causes and will be canvassing in Indiana as part of a campaign to protect our streams and rivers across the state.
As things stand now, more than 15,000 miles of Pennsylvania’s waterways are unsafe for fishing, swimming or any human contact for up to 70 days each year. The primary reason for such pollution is the existence of loopholes in the Clean Water Act that enable polluters to take advantage of our precious waterways and endanger our public health. With enough public support we know we can close these loopholes and protect our waterways, which is why we will be out and about this Wednesday knocking on doors.
The success of our efforts relies heavily on the support of community members. When you see a friendly face at your door Wednesday wearing a blue PennEnvironment shirt, I hope you will answer President Driscoll’s call and take action.