Problem-solving requires action, and students and environmental activists came together on Thursday, January 23 to prove just that. A conference put together by the Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG) at SOU brought together members of the community and State Representative Peter Buckley to raise awareness and help take action against global warming.
In particular the conference was held to bring attention to the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal that would regulate carbon pollution from power plants. Carbon pollution is considered the largest contributor to global warming. The event was held in the Raider’s Nest of Stevenson Union at 11:00 a.m.
Speakers included State Representative Peter Buckley, Maria Fish from Environment Oregon, Alan Journet from Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, Phoenix Barrow from SOU OSPIRG and Greg Jones, SOU professor and environmental studies department chair.
“I’m here for one reason only today,” said Buckley. “To ask you get involved.”
Volunteers surrounded the area with clipboards and others tabled to share more information and recruit people to sign petitions. A volunteer held a sign while speakers stood at the podium reading “no new dirty power plants.” There is only one coal-fired power plant in Oregon, but it is one of the five “dirtiest” power plants in the country, according to a report released by Environment Oregon Research and Policy Center.
“When it comes to protecting our planet…it’s time to ask ourselves, if not us, who?” said Journet. “If not now, when?” Journet referenced the increasing intensity and length in fire seasons as a result of global warming, suggesting that conditions will only worsen without public action.
Ultimately, the EPA’s proposal would eliminate new coal-fired power plants from being built in the United States. This comes from President Obama’s climate action plan, and it is expected that carbon regulations for existing power plants will also be proposed later this year.
“Earth’s atmosphere is a global common and one that we have not taken very good care of,” said Jones. “Measures such as this one, where the EPA is proposing regulations on carbon emissions from coal powered plants, are one of many steps needed to address the changes in our atmosphere brought about by human activities.”
There is currently a 60-day comment period for citizens to make their opinions known regarding the proposed regulations on carbon pollution from new power plants. This comment period will end on March 10.
“Make your comments know,” Buckley urged. “Make your voice known.”
The event was part of a two-day effort that included similar conferences in Eugene and Portland to collect signatures and public comments.
Barrow ended the session on a positive note, assuring those in attendance, “we can make a difference.”