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This Wednesday, we had the opportunity to participate in the Youth Clean Energy Forum with over a hundred young people from across the country in the room – and many more watching online. There were environmentalists and veterans, urban and rural youth, as well as young representatives from faith groups, and sustainable development organizations. This was one of many forums the Administration has held, but particularly important because of the focus on how our generation is acting on behalf of clean energy and the environment. It was incredible to see so many people our age in one room – all dedicated to protecting the planet for our future and discussing the need for a comprehensive energy plan that puts America back in control of its energy future.
Participants were able to hear from Cabinet Secretaries and senior Administration officials directly on how transitioning to a clean energy economy will create jobs, enhance national security and help protect our environment for generations to come. Secretaries Chu, Salazar and Solis, Administrator Jackson and Chair Nancy Sutley (go CEQ!) discussed the benefits of the clean energy economy for younger generations and the role young Americans have in creating and sharing those opportunities. They spoke broadly about what the Administration is doing to develop the energy of the future and deploy clean energy today, like the $80 billion investment in the Recovery Act, and talked specifically about the new innovations they’re seeing on the ground. While we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by their convictions and leadership every day, we were newly inspired – and impressed – by how passionately and seriously they spoke to our generation – showing that youth engagement is truly a priority for this Administration.
Transitioning to clean energy and combating climate change are two of the greatest challenges and opportunities of our generation, and we were proud to stand with our peers who are working at the grassroots level to start new companies, undertake improvements in their communities, and make this transition to a clean energy economy a reality. This was the beginning of a conversation – we look forward to continuing to hear from you in the future.
Bayley Dixon, Dan Kilduff and Kira Mesdag are with the Council on Environmental Quality