by Liz Kazal
This blog was written by Zachary Jarjoura, Southern Energy Network Media Action Team Leader and Communications Fellowship Coordinator
For more information about the SEN Communications Fellowship, email Zach at email@example.com.
Today's political landscape is plagued by corruption and influence from special interests who use their deep pockets to push for legislation that benefits them. But over the past few years environmental organizations, specifically those of us who rally around the crisis of climate change, have begun to call attention to the powerful influence of the fossil fuel industry on our political system and law making bodies. With the 2012 presidential and congressional elections just a week away and the climate silence deafening we are cranking up the pressure politicians and making sure that voters consider the environment when they go to the polls! We are doing this in a variety of ways including social media campaigns, research, petition drives, protests, and direct action.
Recently the National Wildlife Federation's Campus Ecology program released some useful research in a report entitled "A Student’s Guide to How Corporate Oil, Gas and Coal Money Influences U.S. Energy Policy". The report details the fossil fuel industry's political contributions and found that "Since 1999, oil, gas, and coal companies have contributed nearly $1 billion dollars to members of Congress." It goes on to include statistics on the top contributors and receivers of that nearly $1,000,000,000 and also gives students 7 ways to make our voices heard and ensure our elected officials are doing their part tomove us toward climate solutions. The guide is really awesome thanks to its authors and all those who worked on it! Be sure to check it out here!
Another great tool in addition to the NWF Campus Ecology program's guide to dirty energy money in politics, Oil Change International has a website where you can track how much $$$ your elected official has taken from dirty energy interests and how they have voted on legislation that affects the fossil fuel industry! Check it out here, it's REALLY NEAT! If you're from the southeast and wanna know how much your elected officials have taken and how they voted on key issues check out this link!
A few weeks ago young voters from across the southeast took action to work towards a clean energy future and make a little noise for the youth climate movement at the 8th annual SSREC! This year the Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference (SSREC) was held at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University where students engaged in workshops and speaking events focused on organizing to move our politics and economy to a new era that is clean, green, and just.
Students engaged in a rally and marched to the Florida state Capitol and Supreme Court to “Break the Silence on Climate Change” and call for real clean energy solutions! We sent a question to both of the Presidential candidates… “What are YOU going to do about the global climate crisis?”!
The time for debate is over. The facts are clear and we MUST act on climate change NOW! Action is being strangled by the influence of dirty energy money on our government and we MUST consider this when we go to the polls in November! But the fight doesn't end with the vote, we must organize and work to educate and prepare ourselves to take the place of those whose inaction is threatening OUR FUTURE!
As a good friend and organizer once put it..."We understand the challenge is great, and that it will not be easy. But we are the bright minds of the future. We are the scientists, engineers, organizers, innovators, and change makers that will break us of our addiction to fossil fuels. And we will be successful. Clean Energy Future: Challenge Accepted."
Let’s get started!
Here are some other voter guides and tools you can use to check up on your senators and representatives.
PopVox is a great website that you can use all throughout the year and is searchable by issue. Create an account and you can weigh in on current and future legislation and very easily send personalized letters to your senators and representatives! Its a really great tool! https://www.popvox.com/
THOMAS is okay :-/ It isn't the most user friendly but it is VERY extensive!http://thomas.loc.gov/home/rollcallvotes.html
Check out the League of Women Voters chapter for your state. They send 5 questions to each candidate and you should be able to find it through a google search “league of women voters <STATE>”.
FOOD POLICY SCORECARD: The Scorecard is based on votes taken during the 112th Congress that had a bearing on such issues as food safety, hunger, farm subsidies, food labeling, organic food and local food systems. In the future, animal welfare and food industry consolidation will be added to the food issues that factor in the scoring. http://www.foodpolicyaction.org Follow the link and click on your state!