state networks

The Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition is sick of feeling ignored.

We have taken upon ourselves the burden of inspiring change for an environmentally just and sustainable future in a place where most of our political leaders couldn’t care less. KSEC is demanding change and fostering a network of youth from around the state to be engaged in Kentucky’s politics.


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Moved by the Tar Sands Action & the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher, a number of leaders and I drafted the letter below to show our resolve and call for others to take this momentum and action back home this fall. Read the letter, leave a comment, and join us in commiting to bold action this fall. We'll be back!

Today we sit to demand justice. Tomorrow, we’re getting back up to organize in our communities to ensure justice. And we’re calling on you to join us.

A growing movement of young people has been organizing to build a more clean and just economy that works for all of us, addresses the climate crisis and creates jobs for those who need them. Together, we will build an economy steered by communities, not corporations.

We’ve been successful in leading change in our communities; more than 700 college campuses have made commitments to adopt renewable energy and become carbon neutral. And we’re following up on these commitments by forcing campuses to move beyond coal and other forms of dirty energy.

But it’s not an easy road, and we have major challenges ahead. Big corporations are using their financial influence to corrupt our democracy and deepen their pockets at the expense of Americans. And it’s not just related to energy and the environment; they are threatening the very foundations of our democracy, working to disenfranchise voters, attack workers’ rights and the middle class.

In an act of civil disobedience, we stand together today and risk arrest in front of the White House to demand that President Obama stand up to these big corporate interests, reject the Keystone XL Pipeline permit, and put an end to this corporate-dominated madness. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would further open up disastrous mining on indigenous lands in Alberta, Canada. The pipeline would then take this toxic and corrosive crude across the country down to the Gulf Coast, threatening communities with spills and health impacts all along the way. It would release enormous amounts of global warming pollution, further fueling the climate crisis. Bottom-line: it threatens our future and we can’t let it happen.

We’re crossing the line to demonstrate the severity of the issue, and our commitment to take bold action to ensure that President Obama does the right thing.

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This past weekend, students from across North Carolina - from Wilmington on the coast to Asheville in the mountains - gathered together to help define the structure and priorities of NC's new state network for environmentally active students. The newly formed North Carolina Student Energy Network (NCSEN) has committed to continue using conference calls, listservs and Facebook to continue facilitating regular communication and campus-to-campus networking and support. We're also developing a campaign to leverage the financial power of our universities to push our utility companies - Duke Energy & Progress Energy - to seriously ramp up investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in the near future so that our schools aren't being held back by the dirty energy choices we are currently limited to through our existing electricity grid.

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This is a follow-up  to Emily Saari's blog post "MSCC - We Create Realty!"

At Power Shift 2011, Maryland students rebuilt the MSCC (Maryland Student Climate Coalition) to keep the spirit of Power Shift alive in Maryland.  At our first in-person planning meeting in late June, I asked the meeting's participants this important question:  "Why do we need a Maryland Power Shift?"  Knowing that the battle against dirty energy cannot be fought alone, I shared them my post-Power Shift story:

On May 5th, I attended a Loyola University alumni networking event in downtown Baltimore, at which Ken DeFontes, CEO of Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E) and a Loyola MBA alumnus with 30-40 years' of business experience spoke.  BG&E is a distributor of energy to the general public and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Constellation Energy, which recently merged with Exelon Energy.  BG&E's best work is by far in the area of energy efficiency with its Smart Meters.  Constellation and Exelon are the owners of the energy generation assets.  Constellation does have a few solar and wind projects, some completed and others in the works.  But, it still generates most of its energy from coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power.  DeFontes is a member of the American Gas Association, so I asked him a question about fracking for natural gas, telling him about the extensive contamination of people's water supply that has occurred in Pennsylvania because of it. He immediately said, "as long as the well is sealed, there shouldn't be any problems.  He described that if the waterbed is 200 feet down and the natural gas is trapped in the rocks 9,000 feet down, there shouldn't be any contamination as long as its sealed through the aquifer.  Out of all the questions he faced, mine was by far the toughest.  Very troubling.  Power Shift keynote speaker and former Vice-President Al Gore once said, "There are some things about our world that you know, that older people don't know."  DeFontes' speech perfectly exemplifies Gore's quote.

I did not have time to ask him any other questions, but had some prepared on mountaintop removal, regulation of coal ash wastes, and the dangers of nuclear energy.  I have researched the Maryland Chamber of Commerce's website and have discovered some of its very disturbing postions on energy and environmental bills.  BG&E undoubtedly has some influence on the Maryland Chamber.  It seems that the Maryland Chamber is similar to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, even though it is listed on's "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Doesn't Speak for Me" campaign.  The Maryland Chamber's CEO, Katherine Snyder, says the budget decisions and political positions of the Maryland and U.S. Chambers are separate.  But, the Maryland Chamber has voiced strong opposition to SB861/HB1054, the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act.  It supports natural gas exploration in the Marcellus Shale and opposes Governor Martin O'Malley's efforts to put it on for environmental safety studies.  The most noticeably disturbing position it has taken on a bill is its opposition to SB637/HB759, Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland - Toxic Chemical Identification and Reduction act.  That alone suggests a "profit first, people second" mentality.

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