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Marching for clean power

This month, the President's Clean Power Plan (CPP) will be finalized and moved to the states, where state leaders will determine how best to meet the goals we've set to limit carbon pollution. The CPP is a strong step forward in the fight against climate change.

I've been fighting for climate change as a volunteer for OFA for years, and I'm excited about the plan—which The New York Times called "the strongest action ever taken" to combat climate change. Volunteering is not only a wonderful way to make change in my community, but has also given me the opportunity to meet many incredible people making great strides in this fight. Jon Jorgensen is one of those people.

Jon, a math and science teacher from Tuscon, Arizona, is an OFA volunteer who has been involved with social justice work for decades. Climate change first piqued his interest when, like many Americans, he saw Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” The direct correlation between the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels and the increase in Earth’s temperature startled him.

In March of 2014, Jon decided to take action and embarked on the Great March for Climate Action, a 3,000 mile trek across the country, from California to Washington, D.C. With hundreds of marchers, the mobile community, christened “One Earth Village,” set out to change the hearts and minds of the American people and elected leaders.
The march began in Wilmington, California, an area with very poor air quality due to the thousands of acres of oil refineries in the region. Jon pointed out the importance of beginning the march in a less affluent area like Wilmington, rather than the wealthier Santa Monica. “It’s a social justice issue,” he noted. “Neighborhoods like these are harmed the most and can least afford it. There is no support for the poor and disenfranchised, despite the impact of fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Stopping in Chicago, the marchers met with families on the far south side who were suffering from health issues due to poor air quality. Fossil fuel by-products were regularly dumped into the area by large corporations. Jon was particularly struck by an encounter he had with a 12-year-old girl struggling with breathing issues. She was racked with concern about the health of her younger siblings. “For a child of 12 to have those adult worries, well, it really hit us,” Jon remembered. “No one could forget the look on that child’s face as she spoke.”

The journey wasn't easy, but communities along the way welcomed the marchers as they passed through. Sometimes, when there was no place to sleep, community members invited the marchers into their homes. “There was nothing like a hot shower, a bed, clean clothes and wonderful conversation over a great dinner,” Jon remembered fondly. “It was a way for community members to become involved and a way to create a dialogue about climate change.”

Nine months later, the marchers reached Washington, D.C., where they were greeted by Joseph Goffman, Special Council, Associate Administrator of Air and Radiation at the EPA. Goffman thanked the group for their advocacy work and reminded them that their fight was not over: “If you think your march has ended, you are wrong.”

The Clean Power Plan is going to require every state to make a plan for fighting climate change. Join the fight in your area—add your name in support today.

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