Kids craft energy policy in Keystone |

Kids craft energy policy in Keystone

Lory Pounder
Vail, CO Colorado
Mark Fox/Summit DailyGouthami Rao, 17, from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, takes part in discussions at The Keystone Center's Youth Policy Summit on Energy Efficiency in America Tuesday.

KEYSTONE ” Ashleigh Joplin often feels her voice is hushed because she is in high school.

But that is not the case this week. In fact, her thoughts on energy efficiency were heard by a panel of leaders in the energy industry as well as government officials and representatives from non-profit organizations.

“We realize we are in a crisis and we need to propose change for the future before it is too late,” said Joplin, 17, of New Orleans.

She is one of the 38 math and science students from across the country meeting for the Youth Policy Summit at The Keystone Center this week. The high school juniors and seniors arrived from various schools to tackle the topic of energy efficiency.

“This program says a lot about who we actually are,” Joplin said as fellow students, Kendall Spears, Michael Robson and Katie Adams, all 17, nodded in agreement.

Also, while these teens may one day be shaping future policy, the message they want the public to get now is that individuals can make a difference in energy use.

They want people to pay attention to their energy consumption and play their part in saving the future, the students said.

“Be aware of what you’re doing and what you’re consuming,” Joplin cautioned.

Before arriving in Keystone, the students worked on separate pieces of the energy puzzle and wrote research papers about the topic during the spring semester, said Jeremy Kranowitz, senior associate with The Keystone Center who is working with the students. Now, they will take that knowledge and use it to explore the topic together and devise a plan.

Throughout the next few days, the students will learn about mediation, negotiation skills and coming up with solutions that satisfy people on all sides in the industry, Kranowitz said.

In the end, they will turn their research and discussions into public policy recommendations that propose to make America a leader in energy efficiency during the next 50 years ” a paper that will then be circulated to more than 400 leaders and policy makers in industry, government and education.

Kranowitz asked them to go through a list of the energy they used as they made the trip to Colorado.

“There was a lot of energy used from the moment you woke up to the point you got to Keystone,” he said pointing out everything from the electronic equipment in their rooms and the utilities in their homes to the plane ride. Afterward, the students imagined what energy use would look like 30 years in the future.

Some of the ideas they came up with included green building as the norm, more recycling, better mass transportation and a shift in cultural values regarding energy conservation.

Leaders in the industry from energy companies talked to the students about some current initiatives and problems they face as they grapple with this same issue. “We are going to need solutions from efficiency and supply sides … to tackle this problem,” said Art Wiese, a representative of API Energy.

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