When I sat down with my friends to watch President Obama's speech last night, I started feeling something I had not quite felt since the early days of the campaign back in New Hampshire -- hope. As he talked about the urgency to create a clean energy economy, my heart skipped. Just hearing those words come out of his mouth felt inspiring -- I started to feel optimistic.
But when it ended, it left me wanting. The President articulated a problem and a sense of urgency, but didn't end with what would have been exactly what myself, my fellow campaigners, and the American people wanted -- a call to action. This was a missed opportunity -- he is the President of the United States of America. He can and should call on the Senate to take real action on the climate crisis, a crisis that becomes more dire with each passing day.
I worked for President Obama for over three years on the campaign and into his Administration. I believed in him every step of the way. I still do. I know what he is capable of doing. He inspired my entire generation, the Millennial generation, to engage and to believe that if you don't like the system, you can change it. We didn't like it -- and we are changing it.
The Energy Action Coalition, a coalition of 50 youth climate and environmental justice organizations, where I'm proud to be the Executive Director, has been working on hundreds of campuses since 2006 to reduce our energy consumption and bring clean, just, renewable energy to our communities. Young people took the lead because we couldn't wait for anyone else, but we can't do this alone.
Every year, the federal government gives $10 billion in handouts to Big Oil and its harmful cohort Dirty Coal, two unsustainable, unhealthy, polluting energy sources. Imagine the change that could take place in this country if that money was invested in businesses to develop more clean energy options. Imagine the communities that would no longer be poisoned by dirty energy extraction and refining, and the jobs that would be created to boost our economy. That scale of change is what our President was talking about last night in the Oval Office when he spoke about landing a man on the moon. That is what we need to see from him if we're going to achieve the clean energy future we all know is necessary.
The disaster in the Gulf Coast is our Crude Awakening. As oil rips forth from the earth and deluges the already fragile ecosystem of the Gulf Coast putting thousands of people out of work, we must learn from this. There is no more urgent example as to why we need to stop subsidizing dirty energy sources than the BP oil disaster.
To my generation, it seems pretty simple. Stop. Stop using oil. Stop subsidizing an entire industry that is literally destroying us.
In the words of the President, let us seize the moment.
On Saturday June 26, Americans will be coming together across the country to stand up to demand no new offshore drilling, no more Big Oil handouts, and an investment in a clean energy economy that can move us beyond oil in 20 years. I ask you to join me and thousands of people nationwide to draw Our Line in the Sand.
We need real action, not just words, from our President and Congress. Young people across the country are doing our part, now we need you to do yours. Stop subsidizing the dirty energy companies and pass comprehensive energy legislation.