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OSU students join to protect environment at Power Shift summit

Hundreds gathered this weekend at Oberlin College to attend the Power Shift Ohio summit, one of several regional grass-roots movements determined to bring about change in climate policy.

More than 30 Ohio State students were in attendance, said Matthew Reitman, Power Shift field organizer for the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition. Reitman also works closely with Free the Planet, a group at an environment awareness group at Ohio State.

At the conference, several hundred students from across Ohio learned about pressing environmental and social justice issues, Reitman said.

Students participated in panels such as “Biofuels: Food & the Enivronment” and “4,000 More Bikes: Making Oberlin an All-Bike Community,” which introduced students to innovative ways to take
part in their own environmental effort.

“This gathering is an opportunity for young people from across Ohio to learn about and take action on pressing environmental and social justice issues,” Reitman said. “We will come together to form the building blocks of a world worth living and fighting for.”

Keynote speakers included Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. Each gave their take on the absolute necessity of events such as Power Shift.

The conference, a product of the Energy Action Coalition, has come a long way since its ambitious conception on the steps of Capitol Hill.

In 2007, young activists from across the country fought for change in climate policy aimed toward reducing our carbon footprint. The enthusiasm generated from this event spilled into college campuses across the country, including Oberlin, which is “well known as one of the greenest schools in the nation,” Reitman said.

The culmination of the weekend’s events took place Sunday at 11 a.m. at a rally protesting Massey Energy’s blasting of Coal River Mountain, W.Va. Instead of blasting, which entails destroying miles of forest and wildlife, Coal Mountain River could house thousands of clean-energy jobs and wind turbines. As the conference came to a close, those involved are already preparing for the future, said Glenn Collins, a fourth-year OSU student.

“At Power Shift, we’re demanding from our representatives strong and science-based actions,” he said. 

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