Alliances, Coalitions Build Strength
E very presidential election features news stories and political ads showing the candidates engaged in vigorous outdoor activity. Whether they are chopping logs, racing boats, jogging, clearing brush or wind-surfing, the idea is to demonstrate that the candidate has what it takes for the top job.
When these staged events fail – think Michael Dukakis perched atop an M1 Abrams tank during the 1988 presidential race – it can doom a campaign. But when they work, the candidate projects the rugged individualism, determination and grit needed to confront the political storms and change the way Washington, D.C., works – all that from chopping a few logs.
Americans like these images, because they reflect how we like to see ourselves. But after the presidential inauguration and new senators and representatives are sworn in there is a gradual and uncomfortable realization that not much has really changed. Because, there is only so much one person – even a president – can do.
It takes cooperation in a divided system of representative government to advance bold initiatives and policy changes. The executive has to cooperate with the legislature; the Senate and House of Representatives must cooperate to pass legislation; and concerned citizens must cooperate to inform their representatives of the importance of a particular issue.
CEA Energy Day
Recognizing this fact, soon after GEO-DC launched we began talking to the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA). CEA’s mission is to “improve consumer understanding of energy security and the thoughtful development and utilization of energy resources to help create sound energy policy and maintain stable energy prices for consumers.”
The mission draws members from a broad cross section of society. The more than 80 organizations currently involved represent roughly equal numbers of energy producers – both conventional and alternative – and energy consumers from senior citizens to manufacturers.
This alliance is unique in bringing together such a large and diverse group of organizations on the subject of energy. The result is that lawmakers pay attention.
CEA’s first event on Capitol Hill was CEA Energy Day this past May 22 – just before members of Congress left for the Memorial Day holiday, and a time when gasoline prices were foremost on lawmakers’ and the public’s minds.
Twenty-five representatives hosted this event – both Democrats and Republicans – indicating their recognition of this important issue.
The program, hosted by CEA Executive Director David Holt, consisted of two panels:
The first comprised members of Congress, who expressed their views on national energy policies.
The second was a panel of energy consumers and producers talking about the impact of high energy prices and strategies to deal with these high prices.
The 27 CEA member organizations attending the event, including AAPG, set up information tables to share their specific expertise. During the reception that followed the program, lawmakers and staff visited these tables to obtain additional information and discuss issues with the exhibiting groups.
CEA Energy Day was an important step in engaging Congress on the issue of energy. It will not be the last.
GeoCVD Set for September
GeoCVD is coming soon – Sept. 9-10, to be exact – and it’s an event you won’t want to miss.
Another group that we work closely with is the Geopolicy Working Group.
Organized by the American Geological Institute (AGI), it includes those AGI member societies that have offices or representatives in Washington, D.C.
In addition to AGI the group includes AAPG, the American Geophysical Union, the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, the Geological Society of America, the Seismological Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America.
We meet regularly in person and by conference call to exchange information and ideas, and to develop and promote best practices in representing the geosciences in Washington.
Together we are hosting this first ever geoscience Congressional Visits Day (geoCVD) here in Washington, D.C., and you are invited to attend!
The geoCVD program will provide attendees with information on current geoscience legislation and discuss how to communicate with policymakers the importance of the geosciences. Then we’ll put that training to use by heading to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and their staff in person, making contacts and forging relationships.
Mark your calendars now, and plan to join us in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9-10, for geoCVD.
We need your involvement, because there is strength in numbers.