CSU Chico Buckles Down on Employees' Mileage

Ashley Thorne

A faculty member at California State University, Chico, sent me the following email from the director of the university's institute for sustainable development:
From: McNall, Scott
Sent: Monday, November 09, 2009 12:15 PM
To: All Faculty (restricted); All Staff (restricted)
Subject: FW: Mileage Requirement Announcement
California State University, Chico has been recognized nationally for its efforts in sustainability. In 2007 President Zingg was among a small group of campus presidents who took the initiative and signed the American College and Universities Presidents Climate Commitment, which pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. In the spring of 2007 the University updated its Strategic Plan for the Future and introduced a new strategic priority, grounded in the core values of the campus, which recognized the need to prepare students for the challenges they will face in balancing economic, environmental, and social problems. We want them to be informed, environmentally literature citizens. To do this, we need to model the behavior we hope to see in our students and assure that the built environment, the social environment, and the intellectual life of the campus present an integrated understanding of sustainability and, when possible, solutions.
We need to be mindful of our activities and we need to measure them to know if we are making progress toward our goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the level set by California in SB 32, and in the goals set forth by the new administration in Washington. In the past, we have not focused on collecting data on campus transportation, which is a key component in all measures of greenhouse gas emissions.
New travel guidelines will go into effect on January 1, 2010. We are fortunate that the Office of the Vice President for Business and Finance will collect the necessary travel data and provide information for reporting purposes. We will ask you to record some simple information, which has always been available. For example, we will want to know the actual air mileage flown, and we will want car rental mileage, use of personal vehicles for reimbursed university business, miles traveled in a taxi, miles traveled by rail, etc. We appreciate your patience in using new Travel Expense Claim available on the State Travel Accounting web site at www.csuchico.edu/ao/travel <http://www.csuchico.edu/ao/travel> , and helping the campus to achieve its goal of being a national leader in sustainability.

I was not entirely sure what Scott McNall meant by "mileage" (does he refer only to university business-related travel or all travel, including personal?), so I emailed him to ask. He answered that the new travel requirements are "only to those trips for the university for which people claim reimbursement--all business related." This is reassuring - at least CSU-Chico isn't requiring employees to document mileage for their family trips to Hawaii or Hong Kong. But this compulsion to tally up miles and calculate carbon footprints can be a slippery slope. Could it lead to restrictions on personal travel? I have it on good authority that Scott McNall lives 12-14 miles from campus and does not bike to work... See also: http://www.claremontconservative.com/2009/11/travel-to-and-from-school-next-thing-to.html

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