Navigating Power Shift 2011

I never thought this blog post would get here! We are officially five days out until Power Shift 2011. SEN is hosting a conference call this Wednesday to prepare you and your friends for this epic conference.

Power Shift is going to be huge event, with over 10,000+ young people registered to attend this year. Energy Action Coalition has worked hard to design a conference that fits everyone’s needs and desires. Power Shift 2011 will have something for everyone, but I know what you are asking yourself: how can I make the most out of such a large, historical event?

To get you and your friends ready and pumped for Power Shift 2011, SEN is hosting a Navigate Power Shift conference call this Wednesday!

How to Navigate Power Shift 2011 Conference Call

Wednesday, April 13 – 8:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM CST

  • Overview of the Power Shift agenda
  • Tips for how to divide and conquer within your campus or community group
  • The skinny on important details not found on the Power Shift 2011 website
  • And more!

RSVP here on Facebook. Invite all of your friends from your campus or community group!

Power Shift is going to be an amazing event. Everyone has worked so hard in preparing to attend – now, let us help you be as strategic as possible when you walk through the door of the convention center.

After months of supporting youth leaders across the Southeast to recruit, train, and arrange logistics, the Southern Energy Network is ready to represent. We have youth coming from every Southeastern state. Everyone is excited and ready to shift the power!

We wanted to give three highlights from the field to show how many people are truly ready to shift the power.

  • Our good friends in Alabama will increase their Power Shift attendance nearly 200% from 2009.
  • Florida students will be crowned the fundraising kings, collectively raising over $44,000.
  • In Georgia the Atlanta University Center, made up of Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta University will be bringing a charter bus with almost 60 students.

These are only three highlights; youth all across the South have worked hard to achieve some phenomenal Power Shift 2011 success stories. If we were able to achieve this much only to prepare for the conference, imagine what we will be capable of once we come back home from Power Shift 2011. We will be energized and empowered to return to our campus and communities to take action and cause a nationwide power shift.

Join us for the Navigate Power Shift conference call this Wednesday, April 13 at 8:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM CST, RSVP here on Facebook!



April 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

Join us at the Powershift 2011 conference in DC!

On April 15th – 18th, I will be surrounded by over 10,000 young climate activists in Washington D.C.  Power Shift 2011 is going down, and, just like the two previous Power Shift conferences, this year promises to be historic.  But before you attend this historic event you need to make sure you and as many young people as possible are registered. On Monday March 28th, the registration fee jumps from $65 – $80 for students and youth.  We want the grassroots community to get to Power Shift as cheaply as possible. So, make sure you register by Sunday, March 27th, 11:59pm.

To give you a quick taste, here are a few people who will be there: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson; Former Vice President Al Gore; Green Jobs Guru Van Jones; and founder of, premier climate activist and writer Bill McKibben.  This in addition to the Art Fair, Jobs and Organization Fair, grassroots training supported by the New Organizing Institute, D.C. energy efficiency canvass, state break outs, toxic tours, lobbying, rallying, live music, and much more are sure to make Power Shift 2011 the best one yet!

This year’s Power Shift could not be happening at a more important time.  The progressive front is in a frenzy.  Young people are leading peaceful revolutions in the Middle East, states like Ohio and Wisconsin are rallying for workers rights, and most importantly our clean air and water is under attack.  Currently three bills in Congress target our beloved and much needed EPA, one bill calls for slashing the EPA budget to smithereens. The other two would reverse a Supreme Court order that gives the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing global warming.

For young people who envision an economy built by green jobs and powered by clean, safe, renewable energy, Power Shift 2011 is our moment. We can no longer sit back and allow our air and water to be polluted by large corporations. We can no longer sit back and let companies like the Koch Industries buy our decision makers’ votes. Power Shift 2011 will unite the progressive grassroots community. We will come together to draw a line in the sand and take back what is ours: a government that represents people, not polluters.

I am so excited to be working with young people across the Southeast. For a year and a half I have organized student voices with Southern Energy Network and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. I am more energized than ever about the unbridled enthusiasm I’m seeing from young people all over the country for Power Shift 2011 and I know the south will be well represented.

To give you a few highlights, Florida already has four charter buses lined up; students at the University of Georgia got their school to fully sponsor 10 students; Alabama is using Power Shift to unite, grow, and solidify their state network; Clemson University in South Carolina is on the verge of confirming 30 students; and youth in Tennessee plan on bringing a veggie-powered bus to the conference.

Make sure you join the southern forces at Power Shift 2011 and register before the regular registration period ends this Sunday at 11:59pm! Power Shift will change your life.   I do this work because of Power Shift 2007. You don’t want to miss this historic moment when we will come together to let our governmental leaders and the dirty corporations know we will no longer sit back and watch our world burn.

March 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm 1 comment

US EPA Hears from Packed House in Atlanta: Greenhouse Gas Regulation is a MUST!

On Tuesday, the US EPA held its second of five listening sessions at the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Building in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference room was completely packed and the audience spilled over in to the next room. Dozens of people wore “I ❤ Clean Air” stickers, and children held signs that said “EPA Protect My Future.”


This session focused on bringing stakeholders in the environmental and environmental justice movements together to speak to EPA staff, including Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator at the Office of Air and Radiation. In five total hearings, the EPA will hear feedback and opinions from various stakeholder groups, which will inform the rulemaking process EPA is undertaking this year.

The EPA is preparing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through a New Source Performance Standard (NSPS). The potential impact of this rule is huge: Congress has failed to enact legislation that will address greenhouse gas emissions, and in Georgia where developers are attempting to build 3 new coal-fired power plants, this rule could prevent these proposed plants from moving forward. It could also help transition Georgia’s existing coal plants into retirement. This is one of the reasons why so many community members came to the listening session during the middle of the workday – there is a lot riding on this rule.

NSPS is a regulatory tool EPA is authorized to use under the Clean Air Act, a key piece of environmental legislation that is currently under attack from big polluters. As Seandra Rawls summarizes in her blog about speaking at the Session on Tuesday,

“The Clean Air Act requires EPA to establish a list of sources of dangerous air pollutants and to set standards for such sources. In 2007 the United States Supreme Court ruled that GHGs are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.”

For a full summary, see Seandra’s post at Clean Energy Footprints.

Currently, House and Senate Republicans are working to defund the EPA. Challenges to EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act were seen in the 111th Congress and are already circulating in this Congress.

EPA’s NSPS will be focused on electricity-generating power plants and refineries. In the South, we consume the most electricity per capita and emit the greatest amount of greenhouse gases in the United States. We also have a huge fleet of aging, polluting coal plants in the Southern states.

When EPA proposes its draft rule in July 2011, we can expect the rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through multiple strategies, including providing incentives for old and polluting coal plants to retire and increasing energy efficiency nationally and in the South.

There was some disagreement in the room around how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Kurt Waltzer with Clean Air Task Force spoke about the importance of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technology, also known as clean coal technology, in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants. As many in the Power Shift generation know, there is no such thing as clean coal. Even if we were able to harness every last atom of CO2 from burning coal, we’d still need to extract it, process it, and operate inefficient plants to burn it. CCS technology doesn’t address co-pollutants, things like mercury and other toxic chemicals that are released into the air when we burn coal for power. Extracting coal to burn for electricity is also extremely destructive. In Appalachia, community members are fighting for the lives and culture as mountaintops are blown off with dynamite to expose coal seams, and what was the mountaintop is then dumped into stream and river valleys. A dynamic movement opposing Mountaintop Removal coal mining has grown in Appalachia and spread to other parts of the country.

During the Listening Session, more than a dozen groups were given the opportunity to speak with Ms. McCarthy, including Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Southern Environmental Law CenterNational Wildlife Federation, The Reverend Gerald Durley from Providence Mission Baptist Church and Interfaith Power & Light,  the Gulf Coast Fund, the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, the Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota, Natural Resource Defense Council, Environment Northeast, Conservation Law Foundation, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, the Clean Air Task Force, and the US Climate Action Network.

Though the panelists were knowledgeable and powerful in their statements to EPA, SEN would have liked a young leader to offer comments as well.  Several students from Georgia Tech and Georgia State University came to the session between classes, but we would like to see future sessions take place at a time more convenient for students and young people.

Luckily, EPA is accepting public comments through March 18, 2011, and you don’t need time during the middle of the day to participate! Here’s how you can comment:

  • Comments on the greenhouse gas NSPS for petroleum refineries must reference Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2011-0089
  • Comments on the greenhouse gas NSPS for utilities must reference Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2011-0090

The easiest way to submit a comment is to email it to: Please cc for the comments you submit!




February 18, 2011 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Southeast Power Shift Recruitment Kick-Off Call a Success!

Last Wednesday we hosted the first of many bi-weekly Power Shift 2011 Southeast Training Calls. Young people from across the South (South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida) jumped on the call to feel the regional solidarity and excitement around going to Power Shift 2011!

On the call we emphasized the date change: Power Shift 2011 will be happening April 15th – 18th in Washington D.C. at the Convention Center. We also started the conversation off with our top three tips of what you should be doing in your community and/or campus.

1.       Build a core group and Sign up as Campus Coordinators!– try and get at least four people so you can divide and conquer housing, fundraising, recruiting and travel!

2.       Set goals – How many people do you want to bring and how much money will you raise?

3.       Start building the buzz with Facebook events, posting flyers on campus, and  holding kick-off meetings!

We realize one of the biggest barriers to getting tons of folks to Power Shift 2011 is money, which is why we wanted to start the bi-weekly call series with a fundraising training! To help us all, our Development Assistant, Kelsea Norris, was kind enough to join us and give everyone some really strong tips and best practices around fundraising.

Kelsea’s top 5 quick tips:

1.       Think big and move beyond the bake sale: There are many “out of the box” ways to raise large sums of money! Student Government, Local Businesses or Organizations, and restaurant or bar percentage deals.
2.       Just ASK, and ASK EVERYONE: if you don’t try, then you’ll never get anywhere.
3.       Create a budget and a plan with goals.
4.       Get Creative: use to ask friends and family for support!
5.       Use the EAC Fundraising toolkit:

After Kelsea gave us her amazing training, a student from the University of Alabama, Adelaide Abele, told her personal success around raising $3,000+ for other environmental initiatives and events in the past. Her pointers include:

  • Try to connect with the people/group – personalize your ask.
  • Because of time crunch; shoot for the big groups and big donors!
  • Don’t write people off because you assume they are not interested.
  • Follow-up, follow-up, ALWAYS FOLLOW-UP!
  • It’s scarier, but more lucrative to meet with someone face-to-face.

To finish up the call we asked youth from across the South to give us some ideas of what they are going to do to raise funds for Power Shift 2011. Here are some of the great ideas:

  • Build a fake jail: Get professors, community members, students and/or administrators to commit to sit in a fake jail until their bail is met.
  • Sports tournaments
  • Asking local non-profits for sponsorship, like the local Sierra Club and Audubon chapters.
  • Garage sales: Getting stuff donated and then sell it at a fundraising sale!
  • Singles Auction: a great opportunity for coalition building! Think through influential groups like athletics, Greek life, or Student Government.
  • Work with local businesses: bars, restaurants, clubs, etc.
  • Student Government funds

If you missed this call, don’t worry! We will host these calls every other Wednesday with a different training each call! Every call is designed to give you the skills and confidence you need to rock Power Shift. Our next call is February 9th at 8:00PM ET. We will be focusing on recruitment, so you’ll have the skills to get a ton of folks on your campus or in your community excited and registered for Power Shift. Look out for the next Facebook event!

February 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

News Round-up: Cobb EMC CEO Indictment

On Thursday, January 6, Cobb EMC CEO Dwight Brown was indicted on 31 counts of theft by taking, racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud, and making false statements. Cobb EMC is an Electric Membership Corporation providing power to close to 200,000 customers in the northwestern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.

The indictment brings years of legal wrangling to a head, as Cobb EMC members have accused the Cobb EMC Board of Directors and Mr. Brown of wrongdoing, secrecy, and mismanagement of EMC funds previously.

Mr. Brown and the Cobb EMC Board of Directors are also known for being leaders in Power4Georgians (P4G), a consortium of several EMCs from across the state. P4G is the developer in two proposed coal plant construction projects, which will be member funded and could cost more than $2 billion a piece.

Here’s a round up of some of the best local news coverage concerning Mr. Brown’s indictment:

Electric Co-Op CEO Accused of Massive Thefts

Lisa Coston, Courthouse News

EMC’s Brown indicted for theft, racketeering

Brandon Wilson, Marietta Daily Journal’s-Brown-indicted-for-theft–racketeering?

EMC Hopefuls call for more transparency

Brandon Wilson, Marietta Daily Journal

Cobb EMC case raises questions on coal plant

Dave Williams, Atlanta Business Chronicle

Attorneys file to derail prosecution of Cobb EMC chief

Margaret Newkirk, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

We’ll have more coming soon about the connections between Dwight Brown and the fight against Plant Washington.

January 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm Leave a comment

USF Moves Closer to Passing a Student Green Energy Fund on their Campus

USF Students score a big victory for the Student Green Energy Fund Campaign!

Yesterday the University of South Florida’s (USF) Board of Trustees voted to approve a Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) for USF. The SGEF is, in short, a maximum fee of $1.00 per credit hour that would fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on campus. On the Tampa campus alone this would generate approximately $1,000,000 dollars annually, and all of the money must be spent on energy saving measures or clean energy on campus.

From here, the SGEF proposal for USF moves onto the Board of Governors where, if passed, students will be able to vote in the Spring on whether to enact this fee. The fee would then take effect in the fall. This would make USF, a school generally lacking in sustainability, one of the first Universities in Florida with a SGEF!

The SGEF is really the campaign from which the youth climate movement began for Florida, and it is very close to my heart. The need for a state network became apparent to Florida youth while working on the SGEF campaign, starting in 2007. With a state network, after we won the SGEF campaign, we would still work together to conquer other pressing issues in the area. Now, thanks in large part to this campaign, Florida has an active state network, called the FL YES Coalition, which connects campuses across the state to tackle other pressing environmental issues.

Running a campaign from beginning to end has been a good experience for me. I am a senior at USF, and when I graduate I want to be able to say that while I was here, I took part in something meaningful that will tangibly affect the lives of future students at USF. The past couple of years have been trying for our movement. There was not a meaningful international agreement at Copenhagen, and the U.S. has still not passed legislation to address climate change. This has weighed heavily on me and caused me to question the possibility of us affecting change at all. However, the Student Green Energy Fund has made me realize that there is still a great amount of power in organizing.

Change is possible right now: the key is to focus on things that you can directly affect on a local scale. Winning these smaller scale campaigns helps us build our movement so that one day, our legislators and public officials will look around and realize that they are the only ones left refusing to switch over to a clean energy economy and address climate change.  And although they refused to listen to us, we continued on without them.

While passing the SGEF at USF is a local initiative, it has the potential to have rippling effects throughout the state. Students attending a school that invests in clean energy and efficiency will participate in a culture of sustainability, and they will be better prepared for the future marketplace of clean energy jobs. The University is meant to be a window into the future for how our society will function. For Florida to have all of its major universities invest in clean energy sends a clear signal to legislators that it is time to catch up with the youth of America and make investments for our future.

– Karissa Gerhke is a Senior at the University of South Florida, President of the Students Environmental Association and an active member of the FL YES Coalition.

December 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm Leave a comment

Power Shift 2011: It’s Happening

That’s right. Power Shift 2011 is happening. Mark your calendars now to spend April 1-4 at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC with thousands of your closest friends from across the country.

If you didn’t have the chance to attend Power Shift 07 or 09, this is your chance to be part of a transformational, awe-inspiring event. Previous speakers have included Van Jones, Ralph Nader, and my hero, Majora Carter. In 2009, activists attending Power Shift took part in the Capitol Coal Action, where Bill McKibben and Jim Hansen led the charge in shutting down the Capitol coal plant, which burns toxic coal to power Congress.

The first step in the journey to Power Shift 11 is to sign up as a Power Shift Coordinator. Coordinators help spearhead recruitment efforts on campus and in their community, which is one of the most important ways you can help get tons of folks to this amazing event. You can sign up here, and myself or Dan Cannon will be in touch with you soon to get things running on your campus.

You’ll also need funds to get there.  Now is a great time to ask your family members to contribute to your Power Shift fund for the holidays! Starting in January 2011, we’ll also be rolling out additional resources to help with fundraising.

Perhaps most importantly, we’ll be voting each and every day to help Power Shift win $50,000 from the Pepsi Refresh content. These funds will be earmarked specifically for travel stipends and scholarships for students to attend Power Shift.

In order to win, we need your help!  Will you commit to voting each and every day?  Here’s how you do it: Starting January 1, you’ll text, use Facebook, and vote via the Pepsi Refresh website. We’ll send out the codes closer to January 1, but you can go ahead and sign up for the Progressive Slate, which helps Power Shift win,

I wouldn’t ask you to do this if it wasn’t important.  When you roll out of bed at noon on New Year’s Day, check your mail and start the year off right by voting to get $50k for Power Shift.

I can’t wait to see YOU in D.C. for Power Shift 2011.


GA Organizer, Southern Energy Network

December 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

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