SEED campaign takes aim at reliance on ‘dirty energy’

Allan Madrid

Members of the largest environmental group on campus began collecting student signatures Tuesday in an effort to encourage Northwestern administrators to invest in cleaner energy sources.

From Tuesday to Thursday, members of Students for Ecological and Environmental Development were in the Norris University Center asking students to sign the “Declaration of Independence from Dirty Energy.” The petition calls on politicians — and university officials — to support renewable energy sources such as solar- and wind-powered energy.

In this week alone, the group gathered 150 signatures and members are fanning out to canvass the Evanston Campus for more support through Nov. 16, said SEED’s co-chairwoman Tiffany Grobelski.

“(The process) of producing energy is dirty and often not good for public health,” said Grobelski, a Weinberg junior. “Renewable energy is becoming increasingly important as we head into the future, and we don’t want to always be dependent on dirty energy sources like coal.”

Students on more than 250 college campuses mobilized on Tuesday — National Energy Independence Day — to gather signatures for the declaration. Some students made phone calls to urge President George W. Bush and Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry to make a strong commitment to energy efficiency and clean energy technologies.

A total of 50,000 people are expected to sign the petition, according to Energy Action, the coalition of environmental groups in the United States and Canada that organized National Energy Independence Day.

Members of the coalition plan to present their signed declaration to the White House, U.S. Congress and at state capitols across the nation.

Billy Parish, coordinator of Energy Action, said the day also is a way to draw attention to environmental issues in the presidential election.

“Young voters are making the connection between U.S. reliance on dirty energy and the issues we care about most, including war, job loss and global warming,” Parish said. “Our energy policy is dangerously misguided. A rapid shift to clean energy must be a priority in this election.”

Grobelski said National Energy Independence Day is the beginning of a SEED campaign to bring renewable energy to NU. If the campaign is successful, NU would earn green certificates, awarded when energy is generated from renewable sources instead of fossil fuels.

“We don’t know how many people actually support (the effort to promote renewable energy), so we want to find out in order to make it happen,” said Weinberg sophomore Sara Patrawala, a SEED member. “We have to act now in order to preserve our future.”

Reach Allan Madrid at [email protected].