Posts filed under ‘campus campaigns’
I haven’t had much of an appetite lately… With the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, confirmed reports of bio-diversities continued global decline, and another delay in adoption of a National Climate Policy, my stomaches been in knots. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep myself from sulking, and have found some inspiration through a critical political moment.
The North Carolina Primary Election kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday May 4th). Turnout for mid-term primaries is historically low, with young people being in the lowest turnout percentage. Regardless, with everything going on in the world, I feel compelled to do my part to flip that trend in 2010! I realized more than ever that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for and we will be the ones to define this decade.. Therefore it is up to us what the future looks like.
Polls are open from 7:30a.m – 6:30p.m. To find your polling place CLICK HERE
Here are 4 reasons you need to cast your vote this mid-term election
- Almost every ecosystem and resource on the planet is in a state of decline
- We’ve got to change the political tides and we need the strongest leadership to do that
- Your voice counts and now is not the time to be silent.
- Turnout in Mid-term elections is low, that means, as young people, we can have a HUGE impact!!
- Because they are just as important, if not more so, as Presidential Elections.
Please share this Facebook link with your networks to get others to vote this Mid-term Election.
Vote and Voter Early!
The fight to prevent new nuclear reactors from being built in the Southeast was in Georgia this week with lots of excitement around President Obama’s tour of Savannah Technical College where he discussed jobs, economic recovery, and the $8.3 billion in conditional loan guarantees he has allocated to Southern Company for the expansion at Plant Vogtle. I joined Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND), Friends of the Earth (FoE), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) colleagues and local activists to advocate for a carbon free and nuclear free future and against a taxpayer-financed future riddled with more radioactive nuclear waste.
I was energized for the rally, having just spent time with members of the Shell Bluff Community in Waynesboro (where Plant Vogtle is located) to hear their concerns, answer their questions, and discuss real solutions for their impoverished rural community. Their main concerns centered around jobs, health, and their lack of faith in the industry to provide the former or protect the latter. It was so inspirational to meet a few of the folks who remain strong in their faith and sense of community, despite hard economic times and experiencing a high incidence of recent cancer deaths in their families.
I joined members of groups like Savannah River Keepers, WAND, FoE, SACE and others who are involved in the legal interventions to the proposals for two new reactors at the existing Plant Vogtle site. President Obama justifies the $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for this plant with promises of jobs, but the community has heard this before. They cite stories of a boon and bust that surrounded the construction of the first two reactors in 1980’s, pointing to closed businesses and rotting trailer homes scattered about the county. These folks need real, lasting, sustainable solutions and their skepticism of the nuclear industry’s role is well founded by their experience.
Earlier this month, Florida Power and Light (FPL) was denied the $1.3 Billion rate increase they requested last fall, only getting $75 million. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously ruled against the huge increase, citing a struggling economy and questioning FPL’s exorbitant corporate spending habits and high profit margins.
This week, the Public Service Commission ruled once again to serve the public, rejecting Progress Energy’s $500 million rate increase. Both utilities were also forced to reduce their profit margins a couple percentage points.
With much of the rate increase slated to fund the utilities’ proposals to build a total of four new nuclear reactors at the Turkey Point plant and in Levy County, many citizens are taking action. Engaging the PSC since last October, thousands commented on Early Cost Recovery and nuclear. Their message is simple, “Don’t nuke Florida, we need solar in the Sunshine State!”
Public opposition is mounting against increasing rates and forced consumer investment into projects that are financially risky and literally create tons of radioactive waste. The AARP and numerous environmental groups have building grassroots pressure on the Public Service Commission, urging them to protect the customers pocket and the environment.
FPL and Progress Energy now say that they will be “suspending” their risky nuclear plans . Because their main funding mechanism was Early Cost Recovery, the utilities claim they need the rate increases to attain capital investment from their consumers. Check here for an interesting analysis of how the utilities are crying wolf about job losses when their true interest is protecting their sharholders.
Although the PSC decisions are good news, the utilities are still pursuing permitting for the new reactors, which is an extremely expensive process. Utility executives are also claiming huge lay-offs will follow the decision to deny the rate increases. This is questionable, to say the least. Even Governor Crist, a supporter of nuclear who opposed the rate increases, thinks the utilities misleading the public about jobs. You can read his statement here.
Stay tuned for more exciting updates as the nuclear fiasco continues to unfold in Florida. Folks in communities and on campuses all over Florida are taking on the nuclear industry in 2010!
So, where is UGA now as far as renewable energy goes? In an hour long interview with our very own Ken Crowe, Director of Energy Services, Stanley Dieleman, a Southern Energy Network Efficiency Fellow, and Garrett Brewer, a UGA Graduate student with energy policy experience, were all able to get several ideas, policies, and future initiatives on paper. The main point of this meeting was to collect information and cold hard facts about our energy use. The information will be used to educate many new students who don’t have a clue as to what is being done on campus, and show them what we are doing, as a university, to fulfill our commitment to excellence here at UGA.
So lets start with the big question, which seems to be on most people’s minds. How much is The University of Georgia actually spending on energy? Well, according to Crowe, somewhere in the ballpark of $28 million per year. Sound huge? The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill generates a bill of around $83 million per year. With this being said, it may sound like UGA is already leading the way in energy efficiency, but what I failed to mention before is that none of UGA’s energy comes from renewable sources. The University of North Carolina gets almost 25 percent from renewable sources. With a price tag of 3.4 additional cents per kilowatt-hour for renewable energy, the University of Georgia just cannot afford it. Instead, says Crowe, the University plans to invest money in its own renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic panels, which could be easily applied onto many university facility roofs. UGA has not fully committed to this yet, but plans are being made.
The big project this year, and into 2010, is the construction of a brand new centralized cooling plant for the new northwest precinct of campus. The plant will centralize the cooling process, leading to a huge reduction in energy usage. According to Crowe, the more efficient coolant units, in addition to the plant’s centralized location, will reduce UGA’s energy use by as much as 25 percent for the buildings served by the plant.
Besides implementing these projects, UGA and the physical plant will continue urging the university to reduce energy by passing numerous policies focusing on basic student and faculty lifestyles. This includes simple things, such as turning off lights, to more extensive measures such as not using certain steam facilities in the summer due to a decrease of facility usage. Campus energy use has decreased 5% over its level three years ago and is well on its way to achieving the Governor’s Energy Challenge. This means reducing energy use, per square foot of building space, to 15% by the year 2020.
I will add one last thought that has been brought up many times by students and faculty interested in our energy future. Will UGA hire a head figure to tackle our energy issues and establish new policies and initiatives? This figure would be commonly known as a Director of Sustainability. When asked what UGA plans to do as far as establishing an Office of Sustainability on campus, Crowe replies that President Adams will probably reveal his plans in January as he addresses the recommendations of the Sustainability Working Group’s report. This group has compiled a catalog of existing sustainable programs and activities on campus and has recommended actions to further the practice of sustainability on campus.
The University of Georgia is starting to make headway with its energy conservation and policy, but it still lags behind many schools, which have invested much more into sustainability. Hopefully with new economic times and more funds to work with, UGA will finally make energy efficiency a priority.
Stanley Dieleman, Southern Energy Network Efficiency Fellow
Teaming up with the Guacamole Fund, Southern Energy Network had the awesome opportunity to promote its our anti-nuclear work in Florida, raise some money, and hang out with Bonnie Raitt. And what a great night it was!
SEN’s Field Director, Stephanie Powell and I worked with 3 amazing volunteers from University of West Florida to inform fans about the nuclear issues currently facing Florida. We encountered tons of folks who were already engaged on the issues and a few more that were in process of going off the grid with solar power installations at their homes. During the show, we took turns going in to enjoy the music. Personally, watching Bonnie perform was quite an experience! Her music has been in my life since I was pretty young, and seeing it live was phenomenal.
Bonnie Raitt, along with a number of other artists, founded a group called Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) that opposes nuclear power in favor of safer, renewable options like solar. To help the cause, they build fundraising into their ticket sales, giving fans the choice to purchase special V.I.P. tickets. At this Pensacola show, there was a small dessert reception afterward. Bonnie was so careful to spend a few moments with each of the folks there, chatting with them and taking a photo. At the end of it all, we had the pleasure of spending a few minutes with her as well. She is such a genuine person and was very knowledgeable about the complex intricacies of nuclear power, as well as the details of Florida’s specific challenges in the face of this risky industry. It’s great to have folks with such public access on our side, spreading real information to folks about issues that affect us all!
Power Shift Carolinas is here! Weeks of planning have culminated in hundreds of students gathering at the campus of UNC Chapel Hill this weekend. This morning we heard inspiring speakers that reminded us that we must take this movement beyond conferences and meetings. They reminded us that the climate movement is not so unique from any other social movement. We are all seeking a new paradigm that addresses issues of domination and oppression of people’s livelihoods. Students braved crisp October weather as we sat in an outdoor theater and were reminded that being green is not always easy, despite what retailers often make us think.
I have now stepped away from the workshop halls where my peers are learning skills that they will take home with them to teach to others. Away from the Power Shift hub-bub I find myself on a plush sofa in the UNC Chapel Hill student union with a TV blaring beside me and students munching on disposable platters that will soon disappear into a waste stream that terminates in an unknown place. I remember that I’m responsible too, we all are. Seeking climate justice is going to be a long winding path that won’t end with a federal climate bill and won’t end in Copenhagen.
Here at Power Shift I join some of the most amazing people I know. These are friends who constantly motivate and inspire me with their passion and energy and make me believe that it is possible. As Marcie Smith, said this morning, “it is the incremental steps and actions that are building to a tipping point in this movement and that will lead us to the future we seek.” Power Shift Carolinas is proving that people throughout the U.S. Southeast are ready – are you?
by Brittany Forrestal – Southern Energy Network Activist and Intern
When it comes to climate issues in the state of Georgia, there’s a lot of work to be done. I know this, you know this, and, as it turns out, we’re definitely not alone.
Last weekend, Georgia Youth for Energy Solutions (YES!), the new youth-organized Georgia branch of the Southern Energy Network, joined more than sixteen student organizers from across the state in Milledgeville, Ga, to launch a student organization dedicated to creating a coal-free Georgia. Students from Georgia Perimeter College, Oglethorpe University, Emory University, Mercer University, and the University of Georgia all showed up to represent their campuses and collaborate with other students to create a coal-free Georgia.
After hours of recruitment calls, a night of lunch-packing, and an early-morning drive to Georgia College and State University, we found ourselves exhilarated by everyone’s shared enthusiasm. Every single person present showed genuine interest and genuine excitement about the opportunity we have. We can stop coal in Georgia. We have great resources, we’re intelligent, and we’re passionate about our fight.
We spent the morning talking about the dangers of coal, discussing Georgia’s current coal situation, and brainstorming strategies and tactics to end coal in Georgia. The real highlight of the day, however, came after lunch, when we all loaded up and drove to Sandersville, Ga, which is the proposed home of coal-fired Plant Washington. We went to the local Kaolin festival in downtown Sandersville, where we handed out flyers and talked to locals about the dangers of coal. It was a soaring success; we were able to meet dozens of residents and find out where they stand and give them really important information about the plant, while enjoying the atmosphere of the festival and the beautiful weather.
After our Sandersville adventure, we wound up at a beautiful cabin in the woods, only a few miles from where Plant Washington is proposed to be constructed. There, we discussed final plans, formulated an action timeline for the next few weeks, and we agreed to continue working on this campaign both collaboratively and on our home campuses. It was an amazing day filled with amazing brainstorming by amazing students. Needless to say, I had a great time.
There is one thing in particular, however, that I’d like to mention. I think it’s safe to say that after visiting Sandersville and talking to its residents, we all felt a renewed obligation to fight this coal plant. I’ve known about this plant for a long time now and I’ve known about how dangerous and detrimental it will be if it is built, but it all seemed so abstract to me. I realized that this plant would affect me and millions of other Georgians, but I suppose I never felt personally connected to it. This weekend, that all changed. I saw the city, I saw the beautiful countryside where the plant is supposed to be built, and I felt a new urge to end coal in Georgia.
So now, I’m asking that you all help in the fight. On October 20, the Environmental Protection Division will have a hearing to give citizens an opportunity to voice their views on the coal plant. It’s open to the public and we need to get as many people as possible to show up and express opposition to the plant. The hearing is in Sandersville and it starts at 6pm, with a 5pm information session from residents and field experts. Please register here to attend the meeting. Bring friends! Bring family! Bring posters and t-shirts and an opinion. We’ll be there in all our anti-coal glory. Will you?