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Eugene, Oregon, United States
I believe my generation has the unique opportunity to save the world. If no action is taken, the world will see catastrophic climate change within the next half century, the cost of which will be measured in human lives. But at this pivotal moment, we have a window of opportunity. We can create the just, sustainable and prosperous future that we seek. I am a Vassar student spending my junior year at the University of Oregon, and I am going to Copenhagen this December to do everything I can to ensure that a mutual survival pact is agreed upon, not a suicide pact.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Dirty Air Act

Fifteen young people wearing eery surgical face masks walk down the Halls of Congress and take a sharp right into Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) office.  They pile into the small reception area decorated with various pictures of Alaskan wildlife and cheesy souvenirs from the Last Frontier.  Startled, the receptionist puts the incoming calls on hold as one steps forward to say, “As young people, we demand Senator Murkowski stop putting public health in danger by trying to block the EPA from regulating polluters of carbon dioxide emissions.”

That person speaking up for the Clean Air Act was me.  Several weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to win the Consequence Campaign’s Organize to be Heard Challenge by being one of the top ten students to organize grassroots political actions in support of a strong climate bill.  My prize?  A trip to Washington, D.C. to lobby my senators’ offices, meet with Senators Jeff Merkley and John Kerry, attend a press conference with the Hip Hop Caucus and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, make campaign plans for the April Congressional Recesses and, of course, defend the Clean Air Act.

Shortly after we dropped our message off at Senator Murkowski’s office, we were redirected to McKie Campbell, the Republican staff director of the Energy and Natural Resources committee. Mr. Campbell proceeded to inform us of Senator Murkowski “dedication” to fighting climate change, excusing the Senator's attempts to introduce the Dirty Air Act Amendment (which would disallow the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases) by claiming the EPA wasn't the right avenue to do so.  We agreed a bill independent of the whims of every presidential administration provided a better route, but asked him, “If Senator Murkowski is so committed to fighting climate change, why doesn’t she focus on solutions instead of diversionary tactics like the Dirty Air Act Amendment?” He responded circuitously, answering like your typical politician before concluding the meeting with an unprovoked assurance that Senator Murkowski wasn’t in the pocket of dirty energy.

The irony of his statement came the next night when our friends at Clean Energy Works caught wind of a fundraiser that Senator Murkowski was holding on the first floor of the very building that houses their headquarters.  Guess who the main contributers were!  Representatives of Dirty Coal and Dirty Nuclear!  Boom.  We stood outside the posh restaurant where it was being held with signs that said “No Dirty Air Act” and wearing our face masks.  As the featured guests filed in, we stood solemnly in support of clean air and public health.  Senator Murkowski herself quickly shuffled by us and into the door with her head down, unable to meet the eyes of the future generations she is recklessly endangering.

To take action against the Dirty Air Act, click here.

To join my campaign to pass strong climate legislation this year, click here.