By Brittany Glanton
Local clean energy activist held a rally in downtown Kalamazoo last month to protest Michigan’s 6th District U.S. Representative Fred Upton’s new bill against the Clean Air Act.
1Sky, a national organization with the motto “1Sky: 1 Climate. 1 Future. 1 Chance,” hosted and organized this protest. 1Sky was created in early 2008 and has about 200,000 members nationally, said Molly Haigh, communication associate of 1Sky.
“Politically, we are interested in service-changing energy and public health, as well,” Haigh said.
The rally took place Saturday, Feb. 26, in front of Upton’s Kalamazoo district office, from noon to 1:30 p.m.
Acacia Williams, regional coordinator of 1Sky, estimated at least 100 patrons attended the protest.
“We wanted to make sure Upton heard our voices,” Williams said. “[The purpose of the rally was to] show him he needs to listen to his constituents and the community who are against the bill.”
Organizations such as Western Michigan University’s Students for a Sustainable Earth, Kalamazoo College’s EnvOrg, 350 Kalamazoo, Environment Michigan, Transition Van-Buren Allegan, Sierra Club and Kalamazoo Environmental Council, attended the rally.
Kurt Cobb, local author and novelist, was the featured speaker at the rally. Within his speech he touched on points such as why financers are undermining middle class and the poor, who is concerned about the future, record-breaking temperatures and climate change, according to a press release.
“So, when people tell you global warming is something that is going to happen in the future, you can tell them it’s happening now,” Cobb said. “When they tell you, ‘well, it’s something that might affect us in the future,’ you can tell them it’s affecting us now.”
Also, Mark Miller, a resident of Kalamazoo, spoke on behalf of Kalamazoo Environmental Council.
“We call on Congressman Upton to reconsider his position, and to act in the future to strengthen, not weaken, the authority of the EPA to address significant environmental issues,” Miller said.
In an effort to be heard and also raise awareness, protestors held signs with messages such as, “Please care about our air,” “We need EPA clean air protection” and “I love clean air,” Williams said.
The initial cause of the rally was a reaction to Upton’s new position as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to a press release. Upton recently hired several fossil fuel lobbyists to key staff positions and is floating a bill that would go against the Supreme Court decision allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
During the rally, approximately 100 signatures were gathered for the petition and 250 letters were gathered by volunteers, Williams said. The petition and letters were dropped off on March 4 at Upton’s Kalamazoo office.
“The rally ended with an impromptu march around downtown Kalamazoo, where passing cars honked to show support and patrons in local businesses waved through the storefront windows and gave the thumbs-up to rally participants,” Williams said.
For more information about 1Sky and future campaigns, visit http://www.1sky.org.