Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Councilor Garduño Helps Energize the Power2Change Campaign

On Wednesday March 26, The Sierra Club launced the Power 2 Change Campaign and released their Power 2 Change Report. For the launch of the campaign, a press conference was held infront of the solar carport at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

The Power 2 Change Campaign involves a grassroots organizing effort to educate the public around energy issues for the 2008 Elections and challenge the candidates to push America towards clean and renewable energy.

The report shows the contrast in competing goals for Americas energy use and how crucial they'll be in the upcoming elections. The report also contains a section which focuses on New Mexico; that asks whether New Mexico will continue the toxic uranium mining or be the pilot for the solar manufactoring industry.

Also, here is a link to a KUNM Radio interview with Michael Casaus, from Sierra Club; Odes Armijo-Caster of Sacred Power; and Councilor Rey Garduño, about the Power2Change Campaign.

1 comment:

tomas garduno said...

Here's another article about Power2Change that quotes Rey. Way to got Rey!
ALBUQUERQUE — The nation's oldest and largest environmental group has set out to educate voters in New Mexico and eight other battleground states about clean energy, saying the future of the country's energy policy hinges on this year's elections.

Rather than focusing on individual candidates, the Sierra Club is highlighting the successes of renewable energy production in the nine states and asking voters to consider the economic and environmental impacts of policies that depend on fossil and foreign fuels.

"We're in the middle of this very exciting election cycle and we have the technology now to move beyond oil and coal, beyond these dirty energy policies. ... Our message is basically we have the power to change direction," said Michael Casaus, a regional representative for the Sierra Club in New Mexico.

Sierra Club officials have described the five-week Power2Change campaign as an unprecedented effort by the group.

"We've never tried anything like this before," Casaus said, pointing to the combination of grass-roots organizing in the nine states along with an online effort to collect petition signatures, recruit volunteers and generate public demand for clean energy options.

The group on Tuesday started sending out e-mails urging people to sign a petition that calls on politicians to "make the right choices" when it comes to energy production. Internet advertisements will follow Wednesday.

So far, more than 5,200 people have signed the online petition and volunteers on the ground in the nine states have collected nearly 8,000 signatures.

It's no accident that the group is focusing on New Mexico, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin.

"All of them are battleground states in the presidential election and a majority of them have a competitive Senate race as well. It seems that these are clearly targeted for maximum political impact," said David Karol, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley.

Karol said that when organizations such as the Sierra Club can mobilize a large group of people, candidates start to pay attention.

And when that mobilization uses the Internet and cell phones, younger voters _ who typically don't turn out at the polls in high numbers _ become an important demographic for candidates to attract, he said.

Karol also said campaigns like that of the Sierra Club, while not affiliated with any particular candidate or party, can provide a boost to some office seekers while hindering others. He used as an example the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign during the 2004 presidential election. An ad by the group exploded into an issue that dogged Democratic candidate John Kerry for months.

Rey Garduno, an Albuquerque city councilor who supports the Sierra Club's effort, said he doesn't mind the pressure advocacy groups often put on politicians.

"I think all of us elected officials need to be taken to task," he said. "We shouldn't be the people who are going to protect the status quo and certainly we shouldn't protect special interests. We need to start looking at the community as a whole and what is best for the greater good."

For Odes Armijo-Caster, president of the Renewable Energy Industries Association of New Mexico, that means getting lawmakers to support the renewable energy industry with long-term tax credits and other incentives. He complained that renewable energy tax incentives currently offered by the federal government are set to expire at the end of the year.

"The sad part about it is even though the American public has bought into green and has bought into climate change, the government has not," he said.

Armijo-Caster said he believes the American people are interested in a cleaner environment and want assurances their children and grandchildren will live in a sustainable world.

"The American people want these things. It's just a matter of the leadership listening to them," he said.