OSPIRG turns its renewable energy campaign’s attention from state to local politics
University of Oregon’s Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group lobbied at Oregon’s capitol for cleaner energy sources in early February. Their campaign urges electric companies in the state to stop using coal-fired resources in their electric supply by 2040 with House Bill 4036, according to Renewables Coordinator Caitlin Feely.
“You walk around at the state capital building and you feel like you’re making change solely by being there,” Feely said.
Many of the 16 state lawmakers said they supported their fight, but OSPIRG is still working to make Eugene run on 10 percent solar energy by 2025. The bill passed through the house about a week after the lobby day, Feely said.
OSPIRG received 3,300 student petition signatures statewide and 2,000 from UO students in the four days before the lobby day, said Co-Renewables and Lobbying Coordinator Kade Anderson.
“We also got almost every important student group to sign on — so ASUO Exec., we got ASUO Senate, we got Democracy Club, the LGBTQIA3 and so many at this point,” Anderson said. According to Anderson, 35 OSPIRG student activists then went to Salem, Oregon to address the state lawmakers.
“The funny thing is, almost all of them were already on our side,” Anderson said.
Co-Renewables Coordinator Sarah Bethea said that most of the state lawmakers that agreed to meet with OSPIRG were already enthusiastic about their mission. “Most of them, after we asked if it was something they were going to vote for, said, ‘Yeah, duh, of course,'” Bethea said.
Anderson said that there was not a state lawmaker that said no when asked if they would support the bill.
“We would not have been able to do this without the power of the people,” Bethea said.
Bethea said people often turn down petitions because they do not feel it will make a difference. But without the signatures, the renewables campaign would not have received as much support.
The bill will implement more remote solar panels for more populated areas of the state, in order to cut down on the coal-fired resources, Feely said. The campaign is going to work on local legislation for spring term.
“The city of Eugene has their climate action plan — which is a really great, progressive step forward —, but they’re not setting any goals,” Feely said.
The campaign’s aim is to work with city councilors in the community in order to make a solar goal first.
“I asked them if they thought it was possible to get it done by the end of the year and they said, ‘Absolutely,'” Feely said.
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