Youth activists demand action on America’s oil addiction

This blog post was cowritten by Monica Christoffels, student activist in Eugene, Oregon and Anastasia Schemkes, Green Transportation Organizer at the Sierra Club Cascade Chapter. 

More than 50 students from around the Pacific Northwest joined hands across the coast of Samish Island, WA in recognition of the second annual Hands Across the Sand international day of action against oil drilling. With the island’s lush forest behind them, they looked out on a serene Puget Sound – their view only to be interrupted by the looming smokestacks of the Anecortes Oil Refinery.

These students stood in solidarity with thousands of Americans across the country in sending a message to our elected officials and fellow citizens: we must do all we can to move America beyond oil.

With toes touching the water and eyes fixed on the ominous smokestacks, the students dug their feet deeper into the sand, becoming more determined to stand against America’s dangerous addiction to oil and for clean energy solutions.

These 50 students were attendees of the Sierra Student Coalition’s Northwest SPROG, one of six summer organizing training programs to be held around the country this summer. They spent a week at a camp on Samish Island, WA learning organizing skills such as messaging and framing, tactics and strategy, campaign planning and articulating a compelling narrative that inspires others to act.

Northwest SPROG attendee Monica Christoffels felt compelled to organize Hands Across the Sand event this year because she wanted to remind people of how much is at stake in the clean energy future.

“I took part in Hands Across the Sand last year, when the BP oil spill galvanized hundreds of thousands of people from literally every corner of the globe, all linking together to protest offshore oil drilling.” Christoffels said.

This year, Hands Across the Sand came at a moment of opportunity to weaken the stranglehold oil has on our economy. This summer, the Obama Administration is working on new efficiency standards for cars – and we need to call on our leaders to increase fuel efficiency as one way to reduce our nation’s dependence on oil.

The White House is set to announce new fuel efficiency standards for 2017-2025 this September. The highest standard under consideration, 62 miles per gallon, would cut the average car’s oil consumption by half – reducing America’s dependence on oil by over 44 billion gallons per year.

“Hands Across the Sand shows me that people all over the world are ready for a clean energy future, and gives me hope that we can achieve that someday.” Christoffels continued.

The youth that attend SPROGs around the country every summer – including those at NW SPROG this year are not only ready for a clean energy future, they are the ones helping create it.

With the tools they learned at SPROG and the same passion that brought them together on the beach, the students at NW SPROG are among those pushing their communities, local leaders and the Obama Administration to make “someday” right now – we can start with 60mpg by 2025.

Tell the Obama Administration you want higher fuel efficiency standards, visit

1 Response to “Youth activists demand action on America’s oil addiction”

  1. 1 links for 2011-07-02 | Youth Vote, Technology, Politics Trackback on Jul 2nd, 2011 at 2:30 pm
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About Nick

Nick is a freelance writer, climate activist, and a graduate student at the University of Montana. He got his start in activism by helping to establish a new campus recycling system at Portland Community College; since then he has organized to stop fossil fuel projects and open up space for clean energy in Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Nick is currently working with activists throughout the Greater Northwest to protect Northwest communities from coal export projects. When not in school or organizing for a clean energy future, he can be found hiking in the natural areas around Missoula, bird watching, or writing a novel.

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