Apr 25, 2019
Oregon Youth Rally on Earth Day for Clean Energy Jobs
This Earth Day, Governor Kate Brown stood outside Oregon’s Capitol with dozens of students to celebrate Oregon’s environmental leadership, and to continue the momentum to pass the landmark Clean Energy Jobs bill. When passed, it will make Oregon a national leader in the clean energy economy and climate protection. It’s the most ambitious climate legislation in the country this year -- and it’s poised to pass this legislative session.
A massive oil spill spurred the idea for the first ever Earth Day in 1970. Earth Day’s founder, Gaylord Nelson, witnessed black, tarry pools form on the ocean’s surface just six miles from shore in California. This sight awakened his desire to protect our environment -- and to expand widespread public consciousness to curb pollution.
Now, 49 years later, the awakening continues. And it’s young people leading the charge for change. The climate crisis is the largest threat facing our planet, and scientists agree we only have 11 years to act.
Besides the threat of oil spills, today’s youth watch as climate change-fueled wildfires fill our summer skies with smoke, superstorms wrecking entire communities, snowpack disappears and our reservoirs dry up. Today’s kids are growing up in a climate-changed the world -- but they know there is still much left to fight for.
Lawmakers have promised to make the Clean Energy Jobs bill a top priority for 2019. Youth from across the state took the opportunity this Earth Day to remind lawmakers of their promise. And Governor Brown was there to let them know she heard them loud and clear:
"In Oregon, every day is Earth Day, and I’m excited to take this moment to highlight all the important work we’re doing about protecting our climate," said Governor Brown. "Climate change threatens our communities, our economy, our ecosystems, and our way of life in Oregon. My agenda this session is about our children’s futures—they deserve to be able to count on a good education, good jobs, and clean air. We have to make sure that future generations inherit an Oregon as beautiful and bountiful as the one we know and love today."
At the rally for Clean Energy Jobs, youth presented Governor Kate Brown with a petition signed by over 1,100 young people from across the state cheering her support for the cap-and-invest legislation (House Bill 2020) in 2019. Later that day, the youth visited legislator offices to present each lawmaker with a copy of the petition.
Grant High School student, Edith Allen, told the rally crowd: “Climate change is the greatest crisis of our time. Clean Energy Jobs is the biggest opportunity that Oregon has had to protect Oregon’s climate and the communities that are directly impacted by Climate Change, especially the marginalized communities that are on the front lines of this crisis.” Alongside her stood fellow Grant High School student, Ruby Haack, who said “As a junior in high school, I am constantly asked what want to study and what I want to do for the rest of my life. But when I think about the future, I think about climate change.” Ruby and Edith gathered over 500 signatures from Grant High School students alone, spending their lunch breaks and time before and after school talking to fellow students about climate change.
Ruby and Edith weren’t the only ones -- or even the youngest ones -- to take the mic at the rally. Yusuf Arifin, a middle schooler from Beaverton, spoke to the crowd saying:” There is no doubt in my mind that climate change is the greatest issue of our time. ...It’s especially important for young people to be active on this.”
Ian Curtis, a senior at South Eugene High School, previously organized a youth lobby day for Clean Energy Jobs, turning out more than 100 students from all across the state to urge lawmakers to support the legislation. Curtis spoke passionately at the Earth Day rally, saying “I have been working to pass Clean Energy Jobs for years, and believe that it is a crucial first step towards a carbon-neutral future in which climate change is no longer a threat to my generation and those to come.”
Around the country, clean energy is winning as states step up to lead the charge. Washington and New Mexico just passed bills to transition to 100% clean electricity. Hawaii and California already have a 100% clean electricity law in place. And the cities of Chicago, New York, and San Francisco are just the most recent, and largest, U.S. cities to make their own pledges to transition off of polluting fossil fuels and onto clean energy. Ten states already have cap-and-invest laws in place -- and in each of these states, the economies are growing while emissions are falling.
Oregon is uniquely positioned to be a leading example for others to follow as states and countries work together to stop climate change. Clean Energy Jobs is an opportunity for Oregon to do its part while creating a policy model that other states can follow.
Clean energy is the future, and it’s today’s young people who most clearly recognize this. That’s why they turned up in Salem on Earth Day: to thank the adults committed to passing Clean Energy Jobs, and to remind there is no time to waste because they hold their future in their hands.
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