Young Climate Activists May Not Organize for Obama in 2012 Election

About 10,000 college-aged Americans were in Washington D.C. this past weekend participating in the 2011 Power Shift conference, which teaches young activists how to develop grassroots support and political will to address climate change in the US.

Today, many of them are protesting at the White House and at the Washington offices of the Chamber of Commerce, BP and other business groups they accuse of obstructing the fight against climate change.

They are at the Dept. of Interior (DOI) headquarters calling for the abolition of offshore oil drilling, coal mining and tar sands oil extraction. DOI just opened 7440 acres in Wyoming for 2.35 billion tons of new coal mining.

"The Dept. of Interior has been allowing the killing of my community and Appalachia’s mountains by the coal industry for decades" said Junior Walk from Boone County, West Virginia. "King Coal has poisoned Appalachia with toxic water, toxic air and toxic waste. It’s time for real action, not merely political posturing. I commend these fiery activists taking risks and making change for our communities and the climate."

Many of these same, highly-motivated students were at the core of a youth movement that helped send Barack Obama to the White House. But they have lost some of the hope they had at the beginning of the administration, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

Unless the administration improves its environmental record over the next year and a half, it stands to lose the support of this organized force.

"We came out in 2008 and we voted for Obama and we worked our butts off and we organized," Kelsea Norris, a 21-year-old junior at the University of Georgia, told the Times. "Young people elected him, right? And he hasn’t stepped up in the way we thought he was going to. Truth is, in 2012 if he doesn’t turn his energy policies around we’re not going to be organizing for him. We’re not going to be knocking on doors."

Though Obama talked the talk during the election–due to political roadblocks or a lack of will–his energy policies are looking decidedly unprogressive. And the list of environmental grievances is growing.

Obama did not speak at PowerShift and no one from his 2012 campaign participated. However, White House aides say they are confident that Obama continues to have the support of the 18 to 25 demographic. 

A dozen activists did meet with Obama at the White House, where the discussion became "pointed", according to the Times, as Obama said it would be politically difficult to enact a clean-energy program.

Courtney Hight, a former Obama campaign staff member who was one of the activists at the meeting told the Times: "He said it’s hard; he doesn’t control everyone. Our response is, ‘Yep. We know.’ That’s why we’re trying to build this and push the message out. We want to make it clear he needs to stand up to polluters."

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Comments on “Young Climate Activists May Not Organize for Obama in 2012 Election”

  1. Ron B

    The President’s environmental and energy policy is starting to look like an exercise in Corporate Presidenthood.

  2. Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

    Obama’s lack of passion regarding the issues that originally won him the presidency is reminiscent of the re-election campaign of George Herbert Walker Bush. The things Bush senior really cared about – his longstanding relationship with the Saudi royal family and the Carlyle Group and his off-the-books intelligence network, etc. – had to remain hidden. He pretended to care about the failing economy and the broken health care system. However these weren’t real issues to him, so there was absolutely no passion.

    We know even less about Obama’s past than Bush senior’s, especially with Obama signing of Executive Order 13489 (the day after he took office), effectively sealing his pre-presidential past. I blog about this at “The President with No Past” at

  3. professor know it all

    So you admit you were guliable by the false promise of ‘change’? Perhaps you would do well to consider vetting someone before blind trust is given. Somewhere the biblical message of ‘false prophets’ and the Who’s classic “Won’t Be Fooled Again” might help serve a mission of saving the World or at least the environment. Try voting for a candidate that has a background on which to judge the future.


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