Teens Testify for Renewable Energy

by Lilly Lombard, Truth School Advisory Board member and Project Administrator

Three teens trained through the Truth School in climate change lobbying traveled to the Massachusetts State House September 19 to testify in favor of An Act Transitioning Massachusetts to 100 Percent Renewable Energy and two other bills that would strengthen the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards.

After having an office visit with their state representative, Peter Kocot, the teens delivered powerful oral testimonies to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) in a hearing room packed with hundreds of concerned citizens. The bills must be first favorably read by the TUE before moving to the House and Senate floors for a vote.

Forming a youth panel, each teen told a personal story of the impact climate change has had on their lives and outlook.

Truth School teens formed a youth panel to testify at the State House - photo shows three teens at a table with lawmakers in front of them and adult audience members packing the room

15-year-old Max Shannon of Amherst explained, “The air quality in the Pioneer Valley has a grade of ‘F.’ And, as you may know, formation of ozone—the main ingredient of smog—is heat-dependent. Now, I’m a homeschooler, Max Shannon, flanked by Aislyn Jewett and Madeleine Lombard, speaking while seated at a table in front of lawmakersso I don’t know much or care much about grades… b​ut I care about this grade! Two of my sisters suffer from severe asthma. As temperatures rise, what air quality worse than ‘F’ can they look forward to? What is more fundamental than air?”​

​Aislyn Jewett, a sophomore at Northampton High School, described how upsetting it was for her to watch footage of the thousands of animals that drowned in the recent hurricanes, Harvey and Irma.​

“​One particularly striking image showed a small dog chained to a post in the middle of a rushing mass of floodwater, stranded and abandoned and facing imminent death,” said Aislyn. “It brought tears to my eyes to envision what she must have felt in that moment.”​

“So​ when people argue that the costs are too great to push renewable energy standards in this legislative session, do they consider all the costs?” Aislyn asked. “Do they consider the costs of waiting while global warming intensifies? Do they consider the costs that will be imposed on my generation? On innocent animals? O​n low-income communities who will suffer much more greatly from extreme weather, food shortages, housing destruction, and poor health?”

Madeleine Lombard testifies, seated at a table beside Max Shannon and Aislyn Jewett, facing lawmakers and surrounded by adult audience members16-year-old Madeleine Lombard, a self-professed “plant nerd,” challenged the committee, “I plan on dedicating my professional life to harnessing plants to help solve climate change. You can dedicate your careers to harnessing politics to help solve climate change!​ Model courage and focus and persistence to young people!”​

All three ended their testimonies with this plea: “​Do everything in your power to pass strong climate legislation this session!”​
Teens Max Shannon, Madeleine Lombard and Aisling Jewett jump in the air outside the Massachusetts State House after delivering their testimony in favor of renewable energy

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