National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Program is pleased to announce the release of our new resource, “A Student’s Guide to How Corporate Oil, Gas and Coal Money Influences U.S. Energy Policy”.

The guide is designed to take students behind the curtains of American politics and policy development to shed light on the handful of fossil fuel-based companies that are pouring money into Congress and the media in an attempt to undermine America’s ability to confront the climate change crisis.

The report describes how the energy industry bankrolls the campaigns of incumbent Congressional representatives holding key energy and environment committee assignments. The guide also covers how political action committees (PACs), super PACs, so-called nonprofit “social welfare groups” and other entities contribute to campaigns and run independent expenditure ads, some without public disclosure of donors.

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Power Shift is two months in the past, and I feel it’s a good time to reflect on what the event meant for students from my school, the College of Saint Benedict | Saint John’s University (CSB|SJU). On the whole, Power Shift was successful in many respects. It connected thousands of passionate and powerful young activists, turbocharged our momentum moving forward, and let ring the message that we have a vision for a clean and just future that we are determined to reach. This month, youth leaders across the country are launching projects to build the new economy hands on. It’s definitely worth a look.

It’s inspiring to see what has come out of Power Shift 2011, and today I want to remember what helped contribute to its success at the level of the college campus. As a NWF student fellow, I organized students at my school, the College of Saint Benedict|Saint John’s University (CSB|SJU) in central Minnesota, around Power Shift. We were successful in raising over $10,000 to send 43 students (13 of whom became facilitators for the movement-building training) to Washington, D.C., for the conference. Here are a few key lessons I learned from the experience.

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At UNC-Wilmington, two days after Power Shift 2011, students acted out a mock oil spill cleanup in “hazmat” suits for an offshore drilling protest at Wrightsville Beach.  We also made over 100 phone calls on that same day into our local Congressman’s office to ban offshore drilling and push for wind energy off North Carolina’s coast.

But the energy and action in Wilmington, NC didn’t stop there. This summer, students in UNCW ECO are creating a Green Fee proposal, leading the grassroots movement in the Stop Titan campaign, interning with Greenpeace and Oceana, taking part in the March on Blair Mountain, organizing a statewide retreat for youth environmental leaders and a Hands Across the Sand event, and recruiting 100’s of new freshmen this summer to support or lead campaigns next Fall.

The movement building sessions were key for our group of 60 students from UNCW ECO. New teams and lasting relationships were formed at Power Shift 2011, and our group is more cohesive than ever before. Students who weren’t that involved before Power Shift are now active in core leadership teams and are already starting new initiatives on campus and in our community. Emma Wicker, the newly elected President of ECO said,

“One night, a few days after Power Shift, I walked outside the library and saw a group of students training each other in preparation for our offshore drilling call-in day. It was amazing to see students who weren’t that active before Power Shift really stepping it up and being proactive in learning the skills they need to be effective activists. I was so proud of them and am excited to see what the new leaders in ECO will do this Fall.”

Students in ECO are also involved in our newly formed state network, the NC Student Energy Network (NCSEN).  The NCSEN is holding a retreat in August before school starts for students across the state to begin collaborating on energy and food sustainability issues in North Carolina, while having fun getting to know each other, so we can have a powerful network that organizes effective, united state-wide actions.

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This year at Power Shift 2011, the Midwest brought a huge delegation of motivated young leaders ready to fight and win the battle for a 100% clean energy economy and a more sustainable future.

IL, MI, MN, MO, and OH alone brought over 1200 youth, together with the other Midwest states the region brought just over 1500 attendees to fill the halls of the DC Convention Center, and on Monday 4/18, the streets of the city itself.

Throughout the four days of the conference, it seemed every which way you turned there was another Midwesterner not merely attending the event but participating in various leadership roles such as leading a training, handing out pamphlets, leading a workshop or participating on a panel.

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