Guest Opinions

The lightbulb is turning on for Boise leaders: Clean, renewable energy is our future

Emily Her
Emily Her

This summer, over 1,300 local students wrote to the Boise City Council asking the city of Boise to commit to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. These messages were handed to City Council President Lauren McLean at a student-led clean energy press conference in July. At the press conference, McLean voiced her personal support toward 100 percent clean, renewable energy and said she believes that the mayor and council would move with her.

All of our student organizing work was filmed and turned into a short video by that has been viewed more than 2 million times since August. It was empowering for students, like myself, to be able to elevate our voices in energy conversations at a local level because conversations surrounding solutions for the climate crisis exclude youth — even though these decisions are most impacting our generation.

What the cameras didn’t show was students’ trip to a town hall meeting later that week. To continue to elevate the massive amount of input from our classmates, a handful of students went to speak directly to City Council members. A few others and I addressed council members Scot Ludwig, TJ Thompson, Lisa Sanchez, Elaine Clegg and Lauren McLean.

As I spoke, I asked folks in the room if they agreed that Boise should commit to 100 percent clean energy, and I was joined by the supermajority of the audience. Then I said, “Yesterday students turned over an upwards of 1,300 postcards to City Council leader McLean. All these postcards were signed by Boise School District students. Will you all speak toward your support toward 100 percent clean renewable energy?” That night, three city council members — Sanchez, Clegg, and McLean — voiced their personal support for 100 percent clean, renewable energy.

We, the youth, are some of the greatest, most concerned, and highly motivated stakeholders. We continue to prove our determination with our messages to the City Council, our presence at town halls and open houses, our organizing to rally our city to take action. I am proud that Boise has recently committed to 100 percent clean energy for municipal operations. Still, that is not enough.

This December, the city of Boise is welcoming comments on Boise’s Energy Future, a planning process that will set a community-wide clean energy goal. They are inviting the whole community to a series of Energy Open Houses throughout the city. This is everyone’s chance to claim their stake in clean energy conversations and create a sustainable, livable future.

We really appreciate this effort to bring the conversation to the community, but we want to remind the mayor and City Council that students have already weighed in. Students showed Boise leadership that they are ready. It is their turn to match our call by setting a city-wide goal. Through our work we demonstrated overwhelming student support for 100 percent clean energy in Boise. We need city leadership to validate the power of our voices by committing to a clean transition now, so that my generation does not have to deal with dirty repercussions later.

Emily Her is a freshman at Boise State University and interns for the Sierra Club.