By Lexi Kelley /// Staff Writer
Across the nation, students gathered at their state capitals to discuss one thing: power.
The Clean Power Plan (CPP) was organized by the Obama administration and states are beginning the process of compliance with the ruling to reduce emissions to 32 percent of 2005 emissions by the year 2030. To help meet these goals and allow students to have a say in the decision making process, the Power Dialog was created. The Power Dialog supplies state officials a fresh set of eyes to look at the challenge of meeting the goals set by the CPP and allows students to gain experience in an ever growing field.
On April 5, students met with professionals and professors to begin a dialogue about the concerns surrounding plans for clean, renewable energy sources. This event, known as The Power Dialogue, is advertised as an event where students will have the opportunity to interact with state officials and be a voice in critical decision making processes that impact every individual’s future.
Five students from Lewis & Clark attended the event on. An estimated 75 total students attended the event from Willamette University, Linfield College, Southern Oregon University, and other Oregon universities.
“State-level action to help meet the US climate commitment of 30% cuts in global warming pollution by 2030,” the Power Dialog website states as its main topic.
The Power Dialog website also reports that ten thousand students have been descending on their capital buildings during the week of April 5. The actual number of student participants has yet to be reported.
In Oregon, the Power Dialog was held at the capitol building in Salem across from Willamette University, who hosted the event. Some of the state officials that attended the event were Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp, the Department of Environment Quality, Associated Oregon Industries and the Public Utility Commission.
“While it’s certainly important to be up to date on the policies and realities of Oregon’s electrical systems, the conversation with real people involved in this process seemed far more informative. My experience in learning about systems and collective problem solving has been that slideshows are only a small, foundational aspect of addressing these topics – the learning becomes most meaningful and applicable when you take the time to involve yourself in the act or debate itself,” said Keith Morency ‘16.
The conference began with a few of these organizations explaining what they are actively doing to mitigate issues as they relate to electricity. After the presentation, the attendees broke out into two smaller groups to discuss a range of topics from Carbon Taxing versus Carbon Pricing, biomass versus coal, the tracking of emissions and remembering the importance of efficiency.
“The conference provided us a chance to break out of the Lewis and Clark bubble and reminded us of the significance of the topics we study in the classroom,” Audrey Stuart ’17 said.
The breakout sessions afforded students the opportunity to interact with people already working for state agencies and utility companies. At the end of the conference, students had the opportunity to approach these professionals to talk more about issues that concerned them as individuals or to ask for career advice.
Four of the five students who attended the conference from LC are Environmental Science majors.
“Many people, such as myself, entered the ENVS major because they are passionate about seeing legislation enforced in a way that incorporates both efficiency and equity, and this conference reminded me of that,” Stuart said.
“I would encourage students to engage lawmakers and other relevant actors as much as possible when trying to understand policy, especially policy as complex as infrastructure development or … infrastructure transformation,” Morency said.
Conferences, like the Power Dialog, allow LC students to bring what they have learned in the classroom to real life experiences.