Roundup: Green college rankings, an ethanol backlash, and a wikified electric car

A sampling of environmental stories elsewhere on the Web.

On July 8, Harvard University announced that it plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2006 levels by 2016, even as it undertakes a major expansion of its campus.

The Princeton Review released its first Green Rating Monday, in which it ranks 534 colleges and universities based on each school's energy use, recycling, food, buildings, transportation, course offerings, and plans to reduce greenhouse emissions. According to The New York Times, top marks go to Arizona State, Bates, Binghamton University, the College of the Atlantic, Harvard, Emory, Georgia Institute of Technology, Yale, and the Universities of New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington.

The Monitor's Stacy Teicher Khadaroo wrote about green rankings of colleges earlier this month.

A survey by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration found that the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone" is the second largest since they began recording it in 1985. The dead zone, an area where oxygen levels drop too low to support life, is created when nutrients from fertilizer runoffs and other sources create an algae bloom that then decomposes and depletes dissolved oxygen levels. After the massive flooding in the Midwest in June, scientists predicted that the dead zone would swell to 8,800 square miles. But thanks to Hurricane Dolly's wind and waves, the zone is now 7,988 square miles. The largest Gulf dead zone occurred in 2002.

The New York Times reports on a growing backlash against ethanol being blended with gasoline. According to the Times, 10 states require ethanol blends, usually of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline, which are now found in two-thirds of the country's gas supply. Some drivers believe that the blends reduce their cars' performance, and motorcyclists, boat owners, and the odd weed-whacker operator are furious that the blend is causing fuel problems. (As some of you know, I commute to the Monitor's offices on a 50cc scooter, and my state mandates a 10 percent ethanol blend. I usually add a few drops of fuel stabilizer to my tank with each fill-up, to keep the stuff from gumming up my carburetor.)

The Hindustan Times reports that Tata Motors, which unnerved many environmentalists earlier this year with its $2,500 car, is now planning an electric car. In what has to be a sign of changing times, the Indian company is outsourcing production to Norway.

Also in electric-cars-manufactured-in-Nordic-countries-news, Reuters reports that an online community in Finland to create an open-source electric car. The group, which calls itself eCars - Now! seeks to work in the tradition of other collaborative projects such as Wikipedia, Firefox, and Linux to develop a method of converting a gasoline-powered car into a plug-in electric car that can go 75 m.p.h. and can travel about 100 miles per charge.

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