Students call for clean energy policies

Andrew Lafrance

Andrew Lafrance

Students from across the nation will challenge lawmakers to find environmentally friendly solutions for current issues during this month’s Power Shift conference in Washington, D.C.

The event is expected to bring in approximately 10,000 youth. SDSU’s Sierra Club hoped to send some members to the event this year, but the group will not have representation at the 2009 Power Shift.

The SDSU Sierra Club’s secretary, Kayla Miller, said she first heard about Power Shift when organizing Power Vote – an effort to get students to vote for candidates that support environmental policies – back in the fall.

“Alternative energy is extremely important,” Miller, a junior microbiology major from Sioux Falls, said. “The economy, jobs and the war are the major issues right now, but finding alternative energy solutions could benefit all of those problems.”

Miller said it is up to students to make a difference, and those at SDSU can start helping in simple ways.

“SDSU students can start helping by recycling everything: plastic, tin, cardboard, tagboard, newspaper and glass.”

This year, Power Shift will feature panels on topics such as making schools more green-conscious, influencing America’s youth about the importance of being earth friendly and lobbying large corporations to change how they go about manufacturing.

Power Shift was started in 2007 when several leaders in new energy decided that they wanted to spread the word about alternative sources to America’s youth. The first Power Shift was held at The University of Maryland – College Park and attracted about 7,000 young adults. The speakers, workshops and panels were such a success that the organizers planned another conference for 2009.

According to its official Web site, Power Shift is designed to strengthen young Americans and assist them in learning more about clean energy options. “At Power Shift ’09, not only will we deliver our message of change to elected officials, but we will continue to strengthen the climate and clean energy movement by infusing our nation’s young leaders with new ideas, skills (and) connections with each other and opportunities for employment and action.”

Ashley Hrabe, a freshman biology major from Rapid City, thinks Power Shift sounds like a great idea.

“It is important that officials know what we find important so that they realize what should be on the electoral agendas,” Hrabe said.

Hrabe said that the future is important to consider.

“We as students need to get involved now instead of later when it is too late. Our world does not have endless resources.”

Andrew Woster, professor of environmental psychology, agreed. He said even though it is cold, he has been walking to work for the past week in order to avoid polluting.

“It is important for me to be a model that will lead the way even if it is inconvenient,” Woster said.

It appears that Power Shift will continue to grow; after the 2007 conference attracted 7,000 students, as many as 15,000 attendees could show their support for climate and clean energy policies, according to the official site.

Woster said he thinks the conference attendees’ message is a good one.

“We have a responsibility to future generations to be more environmentally acceptable,” Woster said. “It’s imperative to start to wake up.”