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Environmental groups support Obama’s inaugural pledge

After U.S. President Barack Obama said the nation must address climate change in his inaugural address Monday, several environmentally active Boston University students have said they are pleased the issue is being made a priority.

Andrew Cho, Student Government assistant director of Environmental Affairs, said it is beneficial for the U.S. to create national policies in favor of sustainability, although it is difficult to do so.

“If Obama follows through with his plans, that’d be phenomenal, but only if he actually pursues that initiative,” Cho, a College of Arts and Sciences freshman, said.

In his second inaugural speech, Obama said the U.S. must make progress toward sustainability despite the difficulties posed by this goal.

“We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise,” Obama said in his speech. “That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks.”

Obama said failing to address the threat of climate change will betray future generations.

“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms,” Obama said.

SG Director of Environmental Affairs, Rebekah Heath, said in an email she is ecstatic about Obama’s promise to address global warming.

“Rising temperatures on Earth are at a rate faster than ever before,” Heath, a CAS freshman, said. “It’s a touchy subject, involving major oil companies, investors, political figures and even everyday people.”

Heath said the government and citizens must reach mutual terms to make progress.

“Change can only happen when the government and people agree to cooperate and coordinate a way to cut back,” Heath said. “Honestly, I cannot wait for that day to come.”

President of Bay State Road Resident Housing Administration, Marc Salerno, said implementing sustainability in brownstones is difficult because of the geographic distribution.

“Brownstone RHA goes from the Hillel House to past Shelton Hall — it’s hard to manage that,” Salerno, a CAS sophomore, said. “It isn’t like Warren [Towers] or one of the other dorms where they can have and stress policies on sustainability.”

Sarah Arch, a College of Communication sophomore, said she doubts Obama will succeed in implementing sustainability changes and instead, a smaller figure or community likely will be more efficient.

“The smaller, the better,” Arch said. “Presidents can’t go around making sure everyone does what they’re told.”

COM freshman Dale Mason said federally mandated sustainability will be more effective than a “do your part” theme because people think more about the present than about the future.

“Now that the president addressed it, maybe now we’re really going to do something about it,” Mason said.

Officials for environmental groups on the Charles River Campus said they intend to increase participation and awareness during the spring 2013 semester.

Cho said SG Environmental Affairs members aim to collaborate with other sustainability-oriented groups.

“Environmental Affairs will be working with Sustainability@BU to get the Fitness & Recreation Center to turn off lights when closed,” Cho said.

Cho said he plans to form groups for Earth Week and to have advertisements for sustainability plans placed in the George Sherman Union.

Salerno said he would like to see more cooperation between environmental groups at BU, as this will help increase student awareness.

“To get better united, I think it’d be good if the university adopts a policy on sustainability,” he said. “Maybe we could organize a central meeting spot, but really, the big thing here is awareness.”

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