Sharing the fruits of our labor

Zachary Lynch
Guest Commentary by
Zachary Lynch
OSPIRG Volunteer

This world is one that we must preserve and students are most certainly recognizing that today. The fact that there are so many species dying out and going extinct in my lifetime alone astounds me. I and so many others will not be able to see so many different species of animals as one in six of the world’s species face extinction because of climate change, according to Adam Vaughan’s April 30, 2015 article in The Guardian. This is one very important reason why I and so many others have joined the fight against climate change.

Students at Lane have expressed their immediate concern for climate change and wish to reduce Oregon’s carbon emissions by increasing our renewable energy. Many students have been affected by the recent drought in Oregon, California and Washington, so it is no wonder that so many students chose to sign OSPIRG’s petition to fight global warming by increasing our clean energy. During OSPIRG’s week of action, students gathered 687 petitions for HB 4036, which would reduce Oregon’s coal use completely by the year 2030 and double the renewable energy that is produced by the year 2040.

To ensure our success, 30 OSPIRG students from across the state went up to Salem on Feb. 9 to lobby this bill on behalf of the 3,300 students statewide who signed our petition. It was a new experience for all OSPIRG students as it was the first time we were allowed to lobby legislation for 30 years. We didn’t know how it was going to go or even how the senators and representatives were going to react to our presence.

Talking to legislators directly was very important because it allowed us to show them that we care and we really want their vote. The fact that we took the time to come up and present the issue in person impressed our legislators. In the end we learned that legislators are just people who want to act in our interest.

Not everyone said yes to the bill that we talked to, but enough said yes that it passed with a large majority. The greatest accomplishment of the entire process is actually succeeding.

Just this past Monday, Feb. 15, the Oregon House of Representatives passed this bill with a sweeping majority vote! This was a huge victory for OSPIRG as the bill is on its way to becoming a law. A bill that will make Oregon one of the leaders in renewable energy across the country.

“We are proud of all our students and grateful to everyone who helped us get to this point. This is a big step in the right direction combating global warming!” Kali Lamont, Lane OSPIRG Chair, said.

It is due to the efforts of hundreds of students that we were able to win and pass this landmark bill to combat global warming. There were several volunteers dedicating their time to this issue because they want to see change. Then there were faculty that supported us by signing petitions and even letting us into their classes to engage our students. It would have been impossible to accomplish this without the help of everyone who contributed their voice in our cry for change.

When this bill is passed, Oregon will be one of the few states taking a huge step forward in sustainability and in turn preserving the wildlife of this planet. Allowing me to be proud of the accomplishments I and so many others have worked to achieve.