The Skywriter

Guest blog: Raising our voices during the President's Day recess

16
Feb

Guest blog: Raising our voices during the President's Day recess

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By 1Sky Colorado Organizer Micah Parkin.

Across the nation this week, 1Sky volunteers and organizers are attending events where members of our congressional delegations and people close to them will be to deliver our message loud and clear: Americans (and voters!) want bold federal legislation to curb carbon emission and transition to a clean renewable energy future now -- and we oppose Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) efforts to gut the Clean Air Act!

There is no question about the power wielded by Big Oil, Dirty Coal, and wealthy companies heavily invested in continuing the failed status quo in 20th century energy that have brought us to a point of potential climate chaos. But what is more powerful still are the voters. Without us, our elected officials know they cannot remain in office.

So this week, come rain, snow or shine, let’s be out there in full force at every event we can find to keep asking the questions and telling our senators and representatives that we want to see action NOW to cut carbon emissions, protect the Clean Air Act, create green jobs and stimulate the economy through investments transitioning to clean, renewable energy. We are falling behind countries like China in developing these technologies. As Hunter Lovins with Natural Capitalism Inc. recently said,

In 2010, spending on clean energy technologies will rise 50% to $200 billion, topping the 2008 high of $155 billion as new energy finance. The question is: will the rewards of those investments take place here in the U.S., or will they take place in countries such as China, where some experts are predicting a $1 trillion market in clean energy technology.

(This is a point that is really rousing crowds and getting nodding heads in agreement everywhere I go.)

Here in Colorado, our team of volunteers and Climate Captains are going out to as many events where our senators and other important leaders will be as possible, and I can see the difference we’re making in the direction of discussions taking place.

Several of us attended a talk given by Sen. Bennet's wife, Susan Daggett, on the Colorado University Campus last Thursday night. Ms. Daggett, a sharp, dedicated former environmental attorney, talked about our senators’ support for legislation to address climate and clean energy. She also spoke of concern about the likelihood of passing such legislation as they turn their attention in the Senate toward a jobs bill. So she said Sen. Bennet is working to ensure that these issues are addressed through such a bill by including language supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Susan Dagget with 1Sky volunteers, COPIRG and ENVS students at Colorado University
Susan Dagget with 1Sky volunteers, COPIRG and ENVS students at Colorado University.

In the Q&A, I pointed out my concerns about promoting renewable energy exclusively through a jobs bill, saying that until we place a price on carbon emissions we will continue to see large amounts of carbon-intensive coal burned. As an example: here in Colorado last April, Xcel Energy received 14,000MW of renewable energy bids, but they are only bringing a small fraction of those bids online because they are currently opening the Unit 3 Coal Plant in Pueblo, CO. We really need a cap on carbon emissions to send the price signals to decrease coal burn and open the market for renewable energy, I said. Then I asked if there is any chance of that happening and how can we all help.

She responded that Sen. Bennet supports putting a price on carbon through a cap and trade bill, but that he's concerned that the chance of that happening before November are not looking too good right now. She said that in terms of what we can do, “just keep doing what you're doing -- writing the letters and letters to the editors and making the calls – you’re doing the right things.” Student volunteers and I approached her afterward, introducing ourselves, making personal connections and telling her that we are working to give Sen. Bennet a lot of support for passing strong climate and clean energy legislation. I’m sure we made an impression.

Volunteers and I also made it out to two house parties with Sen. Bennet this past weekend. Without us there, it was clear that the issues of addressing climate change, transitioning to clean energy and protecting the Clean Air Act would not have arisen. There are so many other issues concerning people now, understandably. An opportunity we have is to make the connections between passage of strong climate and clean energy legislation to these other issues:

  • National security: reduce our dependence on foreign oil
  • Promoting new jobs and stimulating the economy by transitioning to clean renewable energy, developing new technologies and continuing to be a world leader in this huge growing market
  • Addressing healthcare concerns: protecting public health and welfare by opposing efforts to gut the Clean Air Act and preventing the negative impacts on public health from climate change (increased incidence of heat strokes, mosquito-born illness, respiratory illness, asthma and allergies, increased drought and decreased food production, etc.)

So we’ll continue to make our presence known with rallies outside and attendance inside events this week, and it gives me great strength to know that all of you out there in states across our Nation who share our concerns will be doing it too. Keep up the great work, and together we’ll create the future we want!

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