On Tuesday, more than 200 leaders from the public health, academic, business, and environmental communities traveled to Salem, Oregon, to rally and hold lobby meetings with legislators on this session's top environmental bills as part of the Oregon Conservation Network's Clean Green Lobby Machine lobby day.
Before the meetings, the crowd marched to the state capitol and then held a lively rally right there on the steps of the building that included a fun coal-vs.-clean-energy tug-of-war. (Of course, clean energy always wins!)
The priority bill for the day was the "Coal-to-Clean" legislation, Senate Bill 477 and House Bill 2729, which would move Oregon's electric utilities Pacific Power and PGE off coal by 2025 and onto more local clean, renewable energy. A recent poll showed that 71 percent of Oregon voters support legislation to transition from coal to clean energy. Here are some of Tuesday's participants talking about why it's so important to them.
Oregon's last in-state coal plant is scheduled to retire in 2020. Yet Oregon still gets one third of its energy from coal, much of that coming from out-of-state coal plants. Some $295 million leaves Oregon every year to pay for out-of-state coal energy!
"We all recognize that it's better for our state to create well-paying local solar and wind energy jobs that can support families than it is for us to send our money to out-of-state coal plants," said Amy Hojnowski, Beyond Coal's senior campaign representative in Oregon. "By supporting the Coal to Clean legislation, we're supporting climate action and local clean energy jobs."
Oregon can be a leader in clean energy, and residents (especially the 200-plus who showed up on Tuesday!) know that. Many reported back that their meetings with state legislators went very well -- including one with State Senator Ginny Burdick and 20 of her constituents, which she said was her largest meeting so far this session.
And the day landed some great media coverage, too -- check out this news hit!
I continue to be inspired by the grassroots activists nationwide who regularly speak out for clean energy. Whether we're talking about Oregon or any other state in the U.S., together we can make this happen by making sure our elected officials know that clean energy is the way forward!