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Scrapbook: Oregon Testifies for Clean Energy in the Northwest

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October 30, 2009

Oregon Testifies for Clean Energy in the Northwest

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We've got a great report about a clean energy hearing in from Cesia Kearns, Regional Representative for the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign in Oregon.

In mid-October was a hearing in Portland for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's (NWPCC) plan on the council's draft energy plan for the Northwest. Kearns said it was a fantastic event where more than 150 folks turned out to give quality testimony and "a message that rang loud and clear – it’s time to kick coal out of the Northwest, and the NWPCC is best positioned right now to take that leap."

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Kearns said people gathered early prior to the hearing for pizza, t-shirts, and a briefing to learn more about the council, what is want out of the NWPCC's plan, and how the hearing would work. 

"The crowd was incredibly well informed and committed to sharing their stories about why they support a coal-free Northwest," said Kearns. "We received several comments from NWPCC staff, a representative of Seattle City Power and Light, and from colleagues with other organizations about how well the event was organized, how enthusiastic and yet respectful the crowd was, and what a powerful night it had turned out to be."

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She added that the variety of testimony and the lively-yet-contained crowd wrapped up the public hearing process in a powerful way, echoing their desires for the final regional plan to be one that takes climate change seriously and incorporates the public's desires. 

"We feel the message to the council resonated clearly that they have just as much responsibility now as other decision-makers, if not more, to lead the way in addressing global warming by phasing out coal. That sentiment was best summarized by one young man's testimony who wrapped up by saying, 'I hope you council-members will remember me, because we will certainly remember you.'"

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Kearns sent a special thanks out to Jenny Bedell-Stiles with the Sierra Student Coalition and her student leaders for connecting schools with this opportunity, and to Ivan Maluski from the Chapter for his assistance with reaching out to grasstops. 
 
Here's her summary of the successful hearing:
  • About 150 people attended – over 100 chairs in the room that were all filled, and the area at the back, the sides of the room, and outside the room were filled, standing room only.
  • NWPCC staff indicated that this is the most public engagement that’s been demonstrated around a draft plan.
  • Several volunteers took responsibility for helping to run the briefing and wrap up the entire event keeping things running smoothly.
  • Testimony included comments from parents’ perspectives discussing the impact of dirty energy on future generations, several young people speaking to their future, small business owners, engineers, energy experts, few utility representatives, and a Umatilla Tribal council member.
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  • There was an overwhelming ratio of people there in support of phasing out coal, reducing carbon pollution in the plan, and keeping efficiency targets strong.
  • For this hearing, the Oregon Sierra Club worked primarily with our partners Save Our Wild Salmon and the Northwest Energy Coalition, but other ally organizations testified, including Citizen’s Utility Board, Climate Solutions, Ecumenical Ministries, and more.
  • The crowd was spirited and clapped when comments were shared that people echoed, such as the responsibility these decision-makers have to taking meaningful action to address global warming in the region.
  • People waved "No More Coal" and "I love clean energy signs" in the room.
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Congrats, Oregon!

Photos courtesy of Bill Purcell.

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