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Volume 15, Issue 11 ~ March 15 - March 21, 2007

At the Statehouse, Broadneck Teens
Learn a Lesson in Politics

Students lobby to slow global warming, as pols urge going slow

by Carrie Madren

Teens in lime-green, hand-painted T-shirts ambushed lawmakers Monday night with two-dozen paper cranes.

In the bustling State House lobby, some legislators — like Sen. Brian Frosh — gladly accepted the colorful, neatly folded cranes, which bore the message Support the Global Warming Solutions Act. Others — like Del. Joseph Boteler — refused with raised hand and hurried past.

Nearly two-dozen Broadneck High Schoolers — the school’s Environmental Club — came to the Statehouse to support the Global Warming Solutions bill, which would require the Department of the Environment to find out 1990 greenhouse gas levels, set limits on current emissions and devise a plan to lower pollutants.

Weeks ago, the students had met with Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s Claire Douglass.

“I told them some ways they could get involved, since they can’t vote yet,” Douglass says. “This was all their idea. They made the T-shirts, arranged the meeting and coordinated carpooling.”

Their first order of business was meeting with House Speaker Michael Busch and Sen. John Astle — a meeting arranged by sophomore Taylor Sturm — to explain their stand on global warming.

Each wore a shirt with messages blocked in puffy paint saying We’re Here to Save the Planet. They presented a brown paper banner with eco-messages scrawled in colored marker and a petition bearing 626 signatures.

The Environmental Club gathered those signatures at lunchtime and around the community, as they taught signers about global warming.

“Sometimes we had to go into debate with people before they would sign,” said Brian Muhitch, who studied the bill’s text for four hours before hitting the school hallways.

Following a rule of effective testimony, students who rose for 30-second statements on global warming made their messages personal.

“I want to be able to swim and sail in the Bay,” senior Melissa Duvall told the legislators. “Annapolis is my home. I don’t want to see it destroyed over a problem we can do something about.”

Others wanted their grandchildren to live in a clean environment, urged more renewable energy sources and sought to prevent eco-catastrophes.

The students’ meeting “reminds the legislators that they’re doing this [global warming bill] for them [young people],” Douglass says.

Busch listened attentively to each teen, then reminded them about all the recent environmental legislation passed through the General Assembly, like the Clean Cars Act and the Healthy Air Act. He believes we must tackle global warming, but he’s not ready to back this bill until he’s studied it, he told the students.

After all, Busch said, “I go back and live in the community. I do this for my family’s best interest, too.”

Still, Busch advised, students should follow the issue and learn who testifies against the bill and why.

The Speaker’s non-committal response disappointed the earnest young people.

“I was hoping for a more optimistic response,” Duvall said, “but hopefully they’ll come around.”

© COPYRIGHT 2007 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.