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FL YOUTH DEMAND TO BE HEARD! “Give us the Green Fee!!”

Many of you know that students in the University System of Florida have been rocking the Green Fee campaign all over! In fact, 10 out of the 11 universities in the state system are actively planning and campaigning to get the Fee on their campus. 5 schools have already passed student referenda in support of the Fee. This year, they took it to the state, working with Senator Lee Constantine to present the Fee in the form of and amendment to Senate Bill 1996. Following the Bill to the floor, students from 5 universities attended the original committee meeting, where it passed 3 to 1 with one absent. They were again present at the next committee meeting where the bill passed unanimously.

Late last night, we got the word that the Renewable Energy Fund amendment, along with Florida Senate Bill 1996 was stalling at the Higher Education Appropriations Committee. This committee is chaired by Senator Evelyn Lynn, who opposes the fee, which would allow schools that have approved the fee to implement it. It is not mandatory. The students are asking for it. It is their money!

If it passed, it would allow University of Florida to implement a mere 50 cent per credit hour fee, which would generate nearly $800,000 to be used to increase efficiency and invest in renewable energy. New College of Florida would also be able to implement the $1 per credit hour fee that their students and administration approved, which is the maximum that would be allowed under the legislation.

Please take time to show your support of the Green Fee in Florida! Send the email below, or your version of it, ask your friends to do the same! Help us make it viral! Link this in your Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere!

For more info on the history of this campaign, check out the Florida Green Fee Coalition.

Questions? mandy@climateaction.net

Dear Senator Lynn,

I, _______________________________, am a student strongly in support of the Green Fee currently being proposed for public universities across the state of Florida. Myself, as well as students at five other public universities within Florida, voted in support of referendums on our campuses dealing with funding for the Green Fee. Along with student backing from the remaining Florida institutions, the campaign has grown to all the public universities in the state over the past 2 years. The Florida Student Association has also endorsed the passage of this legislation. Students are not only willing, but eager to contribute financially to sustainability efforts on their own respective campuses.

With Earth Day quickly approaching, supporting SB 1996 would be an incredible effort in the fight against global climate change. With your support and this groundbreaking legislation, Florida will have the opportunity to be a leader in sustainability efforts on campuses across the country. Please support the concerns of university students in Florida by making every effort to see that the Green Fee becomes a reality.

Sincerely,
[name]

April 17, 2009 at 6:15 pm Leave a comment

Florida Green Fee Goes to Senate!

Hi, all! Things have been moving and shaking down in Florida these last two weeks, and while we may not be overjoyed at nuclear being included in the Clean Energy Standard that the House passed yesterday (more on that coming soon!), let us temper that with some good news about the Green Fee!

As many of you know, the Green Fee is a campaign that SEN has been involved with on campuses all over the Southeast for over 2 years. In FL, we have stepped those campus campaigns up a notch and taken it to the state level with the Renewable Energy Fee Bill that is being presented during this legislative session.

And, we have good news!!

Monday, it was confirmed that the bill was going to make it to the floor on Wednesday, so Zak Keith, Florida Green Fee Coordinator extraordinaire, worked quickly to organize a lobby day. Tuesday evening (March 24), several students, representing University of FL, University of Central FL, University of South FL, and Florida State University, went to Tally to lobby for the bill on Wednesday. Also, to our advantage, this coincided with University of Central’s student government lobby day. So, a contingent of that delegation of students lobbied on the Green Fee, as well as other issues that concerning their student population.

On March 25, 2009, the FL Senate’s Higher Education Committee unanimously approved the Bill with the “Green Fee” Amendment! Lee Constantine is a champion of the Bill (now amendment) and has worked closely with students to refine it and find an appropriate Bill to attach the amendment to. Of course, the Bill still has Committees to travel through and the Senate to contend with, but we are off to a good start. Unfortunately, the House Bill that the Fee was supposed to be amended to did not get introduced. I will update as soon as I know more on that front.

Also, there has been quite a bit of media attention to this. There has been some unfortunate messaging from some reporters, with emphasis being placed on statements like “could cost full time students up to $150 per year” when no school has even come close to passing anything more than $1 per credit hour (which would be closer to $30 per year for full time students). Of course, this is an unfortunate spin, so we’ll have to make sure that folks understand that $150 per year is unlikely, and that the fee will be nominal for many students. Also, that for those that cannot afford to pay increased fees, they will be able to “opt out” just as they do their other student fees. Certainly, no one is interested in this fee becoming prohibitive to those that are not financially privileged!

I know many of you have worked on this campaign for a long time and are excited to hear this news. I look forward to hearing more of your experiences!

Here is a link to the Bill:
Bill

You can check out some of the media here:

Blog Media

AASHE Interview with Zak Keith

TV Media

Happy campaigning and, as always, hit me up if you have ideas, questions, or news!
mandy@climateaction.net

April 1, 2009 at 5:46 pm 2 comments

Tales from Florida on Power Shift #1

~Youth for Power Shift~Noel LaPlume at Power Shift rally
Submitted by Noel LaPlume
Student at Miami Dade Community College in Florida

From the moment our group of 11 people from Miami, FL set foot on the pleasantly cold city of Washington, D.C. we were afflicted by the excitement that penetrated the air. Apparently it was a widespread epidemic, with over 12,000 young people from all over the states convened together for a long weekend with one sole purpose in mind- to rock the House for Power Shift ’09. On Friday night we kicked-off the convention with a series of motivational speakers which were nothing short of excellent, followed by a series of workshops and two great concerts that left us in a sensationally groovy mood.

By the time Monday rolled around, the adrenaline was kicking in to our system as we entered the Congressional House to meet with our Representatives. This turned out being fun rather than stressful since they tended to be inclined to listen to our inspirational voices demanding change- one that would turn our fossilized fossil fuel system to an updated one fueled by alternative energy. They understood. Each and every voice expressed the desperate need to fix the pool of mistakes we have been swimming in for such a long time. Representative Kendrick Meek understood the urgency of the message we were trying to convey to him – it is no longer acceptable to keep swimming idly because precious time is being wasted while millions of ecosystems are suffering from it. Rep. Meek started telling us of strategies we could use to further work in our local town. On the other hand, not every representative in the House and Senate has the ability to see the benefits of investing in this, most are brutally short-sighted and can’t see beyond the end of their own agenda. For this reason, we rallied in front of Capitol Hill amongst thousand of our fellow comrades, where we chanted for a better, cleaner and safer future. Then, many of us continued on to march toward a coal power plant located just a few blocks away from the Capitol. Believe it or not; there we assembled strong and united and carried on our support for a sustainable earth by blocking the entrances to the dirty plant. We endured cold temperatures with inadequate protective clothes for snow, and became very ill because of it, but I know that there are many more hardships to come and I welcome them with glee, for protecting The Earth is the greatest challenge and greatest satisfaction any one person can every experience and so we must keep going strong until we prove them wrong.

Now back home, preparations have begun to spread the good news and experience gained at the capital. The goal is that all 12,000 of us, together but separate, work locally to produce a massive Power Shift in both infrastructure and general philosophy. I’m so excited. Are you? Don’t fret, we’re in this together. Get ready, set, GO !

March 11, 2009 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

VICTORY! YOU DID IT!

From Nuclear Information and Resource Service:
(**side note from Mandy: Florida had the highest number of letters and emails of any other state….THANK YOU!!)

Late last night, we got word that the $50 Billion in taxpayer loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors and “clean coal” plants has been stripped from the final economic stimulus bill!
Your actions made a huge difference.
To recap, you:
*sent more than 7,600 letters to your Senators in one week
*sent more than 3,000 letters to your Representatives in the House in three days
*sent more than 1100 letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just yesterday afternoon (unfortunately, most letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were blocked; we’ll work on that problem with our Congressional database service).
*made thousands of phone calls to your Senators and Representatives
*brought needed attention to the issue through your blogs, letters to the editor, your Facebook and Myspace pages, and much more.

The final bill should be voted on in the House later today, and in the Senate probably tomorrow. The final bill almost certainly will pass, and there will be no amendments on this final bill, so the taxpayer money for the dirty and dangerous nuclear/coal industry will stay out of the bill.

Take a moment to celebrate today!

But make no mistake: the nuclear industry and its Congressional backers will try again, and sooner rather than later. Two days ago, for example, they began a new push to have nuclear power declared a “renewable” energy source in Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman’s (D-NM) upcoming Renewable Portfolio Standard bill, which is intended to increase renewable energy production in the U.S. (although first indications are that the bill is much weaker than it should be). This is likely to become a major issue in March.

And there will be new efforts to set up a federal “clean energy bank” to finance nuclear reactors with taxpayer dollars in the coming weeks and months.

In other words, we’ll have to stay vigilant and active, and continue growing this movement if we are to attain the safe, clean, nuclear-free, carbon-free energy future our nation and planet needs.

You have now proven your effectiveness, but we can and must do even more. President Obama’s campaign was successful in large part because of the support of a constantly growing number of ordinary people, taking action and making small donations, that built into an enormous political force. We are taking the same approach: in the past three months, NIRS contact lists have grown by more than one-third–a key element of today’s success. Let’s continue building this movement!

Please make a small donation on our secure servers so we can continue our outreach and build on this success. Your support is gratefully appreciated and every penny is used as wisely as possible.

And from all of us at NIRS: THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!!!!

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

February 12, 2009 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

::The Green Fee Toolkit Unveiled::

Southern Energy Network is happy to announce the release of the Green Fee Toolkit! It has been a long time coming, but, finally, SEN staff have put the final edits in and Alex Abell has put on the final design touches.

This Green Fee Toolkit will be a valuable resource to those interested in learning more about the Green Fee Campaign, how to run effective Green Fee campaigns, and the successes and challenges of other youth who have run the campaign on their campus.

Aside from providing insight into the Green Fee campaign, this toolkit can provide structure to other campaigns as well. Although framed within the context of a specific campaign, it provides basic insight into campaign planning and can be applied to all sorts of campaigns on campus and within the community!

As one of the editors of the toolkit, I am excited and proud to present the SEN Green Fee Toolkit! Check it and get with your state organizer for more information!

Tennessee: Reggie@cleanenergy.org
North Carolina: Russ@climateaction.net
Georgia/South Carolina: Imran@climateaction.net
Florida: Mandy@climateaction.net

February 12, 2009 at 5:28 am Leave a comment

FSA says A-OK

Submitted by Zak Keith, Florida Green Fee Coordinator

Another success for the green fee mission, the Florida Student Association endorsed the campaign! The FSA is an organization of all the student government presidents of the state university system along with other Student Government senate members. They represent student interests statewide, and have a seat on the Florida Board of Governors.

On January 16th, students from UCF and state organizers made the journey down to Ft. Meyers to give their presentation. With budget shortfalls and the usual gut reaction against student fees, gaining the FSA’s support proved to be a worthy challenge. The green fee team made their presentation and helped planted the seed for approval from other student government members. At the end of the day, the Board of Directors of the FSA made their decision to promote the statewide effort for the green fee!

With this new found endorsement, the campaign expects to push hard in February to shore up final support from state and campus leaders leading into the March legislative session. Stay updated with the green fee by getting in touch with the Florida Green Fee Coordinator or checking the Coalition’s website.
www.floridagreenfee.com

January 27, 2009 at 11:25 pm Leave a comment

Florida Takes the Green Fee to the Next Level

2009: Year of the Green Fee

After saying goodbye to 2008, the Florida Green Fee Coalition set dead aim on 2009 with big plans for the state legislature.  A student created bill went through the legislative drafting process and is poised to be used in the upcoming March legislature session.  With the bill in hand, students have been contacting their state leaders and putting the Green Fee on the political map.

On Friday January 16th students are traveling to Fort Meyers to give a presentation and solicit support from the Florida Student Association (FSA), a group consisting of the student government presidents and staff from the Florida universities.

With the March legislative session readily approaching, the coalition is trying to find sponsorship within the state senate and house.  Students have contacted key state members throughout the course of the campaign, and a breakthrough is hopeful.

Currently, in a special session, the legislature is making decisions that will likely cut funding to many educational budgets across the state.  Now more than ever the coalition is pushing for the green fee, not only so sustainability can remain economically viable on college campuses, but also to show that students care enough of about these issues to put their money where their mouth is.  Look for more exciting information in the coming weeks.

Florida Green Fee humble beginnings

The campaign for a statewide green fee has been underway for over 2 years.  Students at the University of Florida got together in the fall of 2006 with the desire to create a more environmentally friendly UF.  The student group Gators for a Sustainable Campus promoted and worked hard to gauge student support for a green fee on their campus, culminating in a victory in the spring 2007 student government election.  UF students supported the creation of a green fee with 78% of the vote.

In the proceeding months, other schools from around the state began to start similar campaigns on their college campuses, and the Florida Green Fee Coalition was formed.  Coming together for a common goal and putting aside usual intra-state school rivalry, students worked tirelessly to advance the cause.  And in the spring of 2008, the University of Central Florida, Florida State University, and New College of Florida all passed referendum with 67%, 70%, and 80% respectively.  More schools joined the campaign, with new programs set up at USF, FAU, and UWF.

Emboldened by the successes at Florida campuses, the coalition moved the campaign to the state level.  Campus leaders along with Southern Energy Network organizers met in Miami in October of 2008 to discuss strategy and tactics in the coming months.  With the holiday season fast approaching, students took a much-needed break but were looking forward to move full speed ahead in the New Year.

Blog Submitted By: Zak Keith, Florida Green Fee Coordinator

January 17, 2009 at 1:02 am Leave a comment

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