Monday, April 13, 2009

Youth Engage Members of Congress, Local Officials in 103 Town Halls Nationwide to Build Clean Energy Future

April 13, 2009 - Young leaders organized by Focus the Nation are holding an unprecedented 103 Town Halls across the country beginning today and throughout this week’s Congressional recess to engage Congressional representatives, mayors and other elected officials in accelerating America’s transition to a clean energy future.

50 members of Congress have confirmed their participation in the Nationwide Town Hall on America's Clean Energy Future, along with dozens of city and state elected leaders. The events are being held during the Congressional spring recess to allow maximum participation.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is kicking off the week today, at a 2 p.m. appearance at a Philadelphia Town Hall at Drexel University [Event details: http://www.focusthenation.org]. Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut is confirmed for Apr. 16 at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain. The majority of the Town Halls, including one with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, will take place on Apr. 18. A full map and list of local events and details is available at www.focusthenation.org/map.

“Sen. Specter’s participation in the launch of this national discussion epitomizes the opportunity America has to redefine the kind of leadership it will take to keep our country at the forefront of building the clean energy future,” said Garett Brennan, executive director of Focus the Nation. “This is our window to shift our economy from crisis to opportunity. Legislators need to hear that serious investment in green jobs and affordable clean energy isn’t bold to their constituents at all. It’s common sense. It's what they want and it’s what our economy needs.”

The Town Halls are largely being organized by hundreds of youth who are driving today’s clean energy movement. The success of the events is a result of multi-sector and multi-generational partnerships that they are building in their communities.

“It’s usually our leaders who call town halls on pressing issues,” said Lindsey Berger, an organizer at Missouri State University. “This time we’re inviting them to our Town Halls because our generation knows we don’t have time to wait to build a clean energy future.”

On the national level, many discussions will center on the new draft climate and energy
bill released by Reps. Waxman and Markey that is the first to set science-based targets to cut global warming pollution. On the international level, the Town Halls will set the stage for ensuring America’s leadership at the December 2009 climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the local level, the Town Hall discussions will cover a range of topics representing sectors like agriculture, energy, building, transportation and urban planning that will help each community identify where it sits on the trajectory toward a clean energy future.

The Town Halls are also catalysts for further action. Organizers and participants will begin charting community action plans unique to each locality that will be implemented with Focus the Nation’s support over the coming year. Those plans will focus on overcoming roadblocks, sharing solutions from other regions of the country and identifying opportunities to accelerate momentum along the clean energy trajectory.

The events are part of a growing clean energy movement that includes Focus the Nation and partner groups such as 1Sky, Energy Action Coalition, Green For All and 350.org. Together, these motivated leaders are mobilizing youth, business leaders, elected officials and other sectors to create climate and energy solutions within a necessarily rapid time frame.

International climate experts say that the next few years is the window for averting irretrievable climate disruption. “If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment,” Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the international panel of the world’s top climate scientists, famously warned – in 2007.

Local Media: To localize this story, please visit www.focusthenation.org/map to see a list of top events in your area and access contact information for interviews.

For interviews with Focus the Nation Executive Director Garett Brennan and multi-generational Town Hall organizers across the country, please call Diane Dulken, 503-936-6323.

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Through education, engagement and action, Focus the Nation empowers today’s young leaders to accelerate the transition to a just and prosperous clean energy future. Focus the Nation is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. For more information, visit www.focusthenation.org.

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