Harrisburg holds PA Power Dialog
On April 4, 2016 the Pennsylvania Environmental Resource Consortium hosted the PA Power Dialog from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Power Dialog was held at the State Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The Dialog included three student panels that discussed various elements of the Clean Power Plant that included questions from the audience. In addition there was a keynote address from John Quigley, the secretary of the PA Department of Environmental Protection. There was a fourth panel that consisted of professionals that discussed the implementation of the Clean Power Plan in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s Power Dialog ended with the audience members dividing up into small groups for discussions.
Michelle Barakat, a senior earth and environmental sciences major at Susquehanna University, led one of the small groups at the Power Dialog. Barakat explained why she chose to lead a small group discussion as part of the Power Dialog.
“I have been to a few PERC conferences before and I figured I would give them a hand and get the experience of leading a group,” Barakat said.
Barakat said that she thought it was interesting to lead a small group discussion and that it was cool to get people talking about environmental issues.
“At first I had to answer questions myself, but after a while everyone started building off each other,” Barakat said.
Barakat said that one of the biggest things she got out of the Power Dialog is that not only people involved in the environmental science field are impacted by the climate and the legislation around it.
Barakat said that the PA Power Dialog is important because it helps get everybody’s ideas together. She argues that a conference like this is especially important in Pennsylvania because it is a leader in power production. Barakat said that it is important for us to see where we stand individually and as a state when it comes to power production.
One thing that Barakat’s group discussed was opportunities for young people to have a role in climate change, such as writing letters to legislators, advocacy and education through acts, and being a model through personal lifestyle choices. They also talked about some challenges young people face when trying to send a meaningful message to the community including that they need to establish a sense of patience, the stereotype that young people will grow out of their passions and are inexperienced and undereducated, and that some voices are heard louder than others. Finally the group talked about what steps could be taken to overcome the challenges. The group agreed that there was strength in groups and collaboration and came up with some ideas such as attending municipality meetings, finding organizations, such as churches and nonprofits, that are taking action, looking for resources in creative places and continuing to question and critique ideas.
“I was expecting it to be a little bit more professional based,” Barakat said. “It was nice to see that there were other students our age that researched in this field and care about.”
Gladys Brown, the Chairman of Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission, talked about the importance of the power dialog.
“It is always beneficial to hear what other state agencies are doing and to share information regarding the PUC’s work with other government agencies, industry, and academic institutions,” Brown said.