Last week, we got a glimmer of President Obama's commitment to a clean energy future, and tonight we are ready to see it shine through. Last week at Carnegie Mellon, a university that stands for the next wave of innovation, he began to lay out his response to the BP drilling disaster. We started to see that our President gets it -- the BP oil disaster doesn't just demand a strong cleanup response and accountability for BP and the other responsible parties. It demands we transition away from dirty energy and ensure that we never see another disaster like this again.
One line of his speech has been ringing through my head since last week:
"The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century," Obama said. "We are not going to move backwards. We are going to move forward."
This stood out to me for a number of reasons. It's true -- the Millennial generation refuses to be held hostage to energy sources from the last century, and we are proactively working to move beyond their grip. This summer we've flexed our political muscles to call for a Crude Awakening at 45 vigils and rallies across the country. If that isn't a sufficient demonstration of our determination, more than 150 young people have dedicated their summer to bringing about the clean energy economy in 10 different locations across the country by working with communities to retrofit homes, develop urban agriculture, and fight back against dirty energy projects. We aren't waiting for our politicians anymore -- we are determined to lead.
And President Obama's statement makes it clear that he gets that. But there's another side to this story, because right now we aren't simply being held hostage to dirty energy -- our government is actively encouraging dirty energy development. Ever year, we give more than $10 billion away to Big Oil and Dirty Coal through subsidies, tax cuts, and loopholes. That's outrageous -- that money could be going to launch an Apollo-style program to develop the clean energy economy that we so desperately need for the sake of our economy and the environment.
And the thing is that President Obama gets this, too. Later in his speech he said, " It means rolling back billions of dollars of tax breaks to oil companies so we can prioritize investments in clean energy research and development."
We agree with you President Obama; however, we can no longer just talk about it. It's time to draw our line in the sand. It's time to hold President Obama to his commitment to roll back these handouts, and it's time to demand the Senate follow suit.
On June 26th, thousands of us will be joining hands to demand just this. On coastlines and beaches, in state capitals and Washington, D.C., we'll join "Hands Across the Sand" to demand no new offshore drilling, no more Big Oil handouts, and an investment in a clean energy economy that can move us beyond oil in the next 20 years. There are already hundreds of events registered across the country. If you've been thinking you need to do something in response to the oil spill, now's the time to jump in.
It couldn't be a more important time. Next week President Obama is headed to the G20 summit where climate finance and fossil fuel subsidies are back on the table, and Senators are starting to put forth legislation to respond to the BP drilling disaster. On Monday, Senator Merkley, introduced an innovative proposal to reduce oil consumption and Senator Sanders is calling to take back handouts from Big Oil and invest them in energy efficiency.
On June 26th, we can make our demands loud and clear and continue to turn the tide: Shift Big Oil handouts to clean energy investment and launch an Apollo-style clean energy program that can move us beyond oil in the next 20 years. Period.
We helped turn this into a Crude Awakening, and now we can help continue it by drawing Our Line In The Sand. Let's focus our country on real and meaningful change and help turn that glimmer of inspiration we saw last week from the president into ongoing support for a clean-energy economy that we can help build.
Follow @EnergyAction on Twitter for live-tweeting of his address.