Preparing for a Summer of Action

May 21, 2009 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

Now that classes are over, exams are done, and grades are in, I – along with millions of other students across the U.S. – have finally begun to prepare for what will undoubtedly be an incredibly exciting summer. I’ll certainly be keeping busy with classes, work, and plenty of travel plans, but, to be completely honest, I’m excited about much more than beach trips, concerts, and spending time with my friends and family.

In recent years, climate and energy issues have gained considerable media momentum and have garnered the attention of politicians across the country. President Obama has spoken about the issue and people across the planet are beginning to take serious notice. As both a young person and someone who cares deeply about these issues, I have decided to spend my summer working with other young people to push for bold change in current U.S. climate policies. This is an incredibly exciting time for the U.S. and given what’s going on in D.C., this summer is the time for change.

Perhaps one of the most exciting events of the summer is California Rep. Henry Waxman’s climate bill, which was proposed earlier this spring. The bill, formally titled the American Clean Energy and Securities Act of 2009, is currently in the hands of the Energy and Commerce Committee, where it is being revised and edited. In its current state, the bill seeks to define “clean energy” and regulate it on the national level, plans to enforce a cap on carbon emissions, and promises to enact new efficiency standards for the transportation, construction, and energy industries. If anything, the introduction of this bill shows that our elected officials are beginning to realize that the demand for drastic change cannot be met with legislative inaction.

All said, aspects of the bill absolutely must be stronger and we, as advocates for a safer, healthier future, need to speak loudly and let our demands be known. We need a bill with renewable energy targets that mirror the numbers suggested by scientific research, we need a bill that does not give pollution handouts to dirty energy corporations, and we need a bill that will provide the appropriate funding and resources to fully support a nationwide transition to a clean energy future.

Our future is at stake and as both young people and environmental advocates, it’s our job to demand a strong bill that is hopeful and promises to make deep, lasting changes. It’s up to us to inspire our elected officials and although it won’t be an easy job, it’s certainly not impossible.

First, it’s up to us to hold our elected officials accountable for their part in the construction and movement of this bill. We need to contact our congressmen (by phone, e-mail, mail, fax, etc.) and demand that they request changes that reflect the interests of their constituents. We elected them, we are trusting them with a huge responsibility. It’s imperative that we tell them what we need and let them know that we’re paying attention.

We also need to raise public awareness by telling our stories. We can write letters to the editor, opinion editorials, blog posts, facebook posts, twitter feeds. Further, it’s critical that we speak about this issue whenever possible. Tell your friends, family, classmates, colleagues, and neighbors about the bill and explain what they can do to help. Let them know that they, too, can write a Letter to the Editor or phone their congressman. It may sound surprising, but one well-written editorial makes a difference, just the same as one vote can make a difference.

The key to inspiring change is a combination of awareness and action; we need to be knowledgeable of the federal goings-on while also encouraging our communities, universities, and local governments to fight for bold national change. It’s a tough job, but we proved ourselves with Power Vote and Power Shift. As young people, students, and individuals who care deeply about our country’s future, we create a strong, unified voice and we have all the ambition, intelligence, and creativity necessary to inspire change. Let’s talk about this bill, let’s write about this bill, and let’s prove that we’ve got a mission and a purpose. Now is the time to demand bold action and even bolder change and though the summer may be short, now is the time to make it happen.

Brittany Forrestal

Communications Fellow

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Entry filed under: government, national, Policy, power shift, southeast, southern energy network.

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