Youth Lobby for Bold Climate Law in 2009
WASHINGTON, DC, April 8, 2009 (ENS) - Young people from across the country responded to the draft climate and energy legislation introduced Friday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee by pledging to pressure Congress for a "bold" climate and energy bill in 2009.

Henry Waxman of California, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Edward Markey who chairs the Energy and Environment Subcommittee introduced a discussion draft of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which they say charts a new course toward a clean energy economy.

The measure establishes a market-based cap-and-trade program for reducing global warming pollution from electric utilities, oil companies, and factories that together are responsible for 85 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

During the two-week Congressional recess that started Monday, young people are hosting town hall forums or meetings with their representatives.

On Saturday April 18, the advocacy group Focus the Nation is coordinating a Nationwide Town Hall on America's Clean Energy Future in more than 200 Congressional districts.

Based in Portland, Oregon, Focus the Nation works to empower young leaders to accelerate the transition to a just and prosperous clean energy future.

The purpose of the town hall meetings is to urge lawmakers to pass a bill that sets stronger short term emission reduction targets, transitions America to 100 percent clean energy, creates millions of green jobs, and eliminates loopholes that might allow companies to continue polluting.

"The Town Hall events are essentially a gift to Congress," said Garett Brennan, executive director of Focus the Nation. "We're creating the multi-sector, multi-generational forum they need in order to understand that their constituents are ready for the clean energy future and they want to be a part of it now."

"The only reason we haven't seen a bill that meets what the science and equity demand is because legislators are worried that a bold bill will be too disruptive to their local economy. If they just listen," said Brennan, "they'll realize that serious investment in green jobs and affordable clean energy isn't bold to their constituents at all. It's common sense and it's what they want."

Power Shifters demonstrate for clean energy in Washington, DC. March 2009. (Photo by whateva87)
This lobbying effort on behalf of climate protection is part of the Power Shift '09 campaign that brought more than 12,000 young people from every state to Washington, DC in early March for the Power Shift '09 conference and to meet with members of Congress on Capitol Hill.

These activists voiced their support for "bold federal energy and climate policy" and promised to keep the pressure on to ensure its passage before the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December of 2009.

"While we applaud the introduction of the Waxman-Markey bill this week, we still have a long way to go," said Jessy Tolkan, executive director of the Energy Action Coalition, an umbrella group of 50 national organizations and more than 700 local groups. "It's a good start but we need climate policy that is completely in line with what science and equity demand."

The town hall meetings on April 18 will allow young people to meet with their representatives, as well as other elected and business leaders to show support for aspects of the Waxman-Markey bill they agree with and discuss improvements to aspects of the bill they consider vague or inadequate.

"As the young people who will inherit the consequences of plans and policies laid out today, we remain unwavering in our opposition to so-called 'clean coal,' nuclear, and other concessions to dirty, polluting, dangerous energy," said Kandi Mosset, of the Indigenous Environmental Network. "We can fix our economy, create jobs and a better future if we do this correctly now."

On April 22, Earth Day 2009, hundreds of communities across the country will participate in the National Conversation on Climate Action. This initiative will engage thousands of people in discussions about making the most of climate action opportunities at the local level.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.