COLUMBIA — A clean energy campaign hopes to influence how Sen. Claire McCaskill will vote on energy legislation in the spring.
The League of Conservation Voters hopes to diversify U.S. energy sources, specifically focusing on wind and solar powers, in order to stimulate economic growth, league spokeswoman Michaela Howard said.
"When you're investing in different types of energy sources, you're transitioning into a new kind of energy infrastructure," Howard said before a campaign kickoff event at Columbia Public Library Thursday night.
The group believes that an economic transition focusing on clean energy would create and retain new jobs developing technology and applying it to how energy is used, Howard said.
"If you think about people who have lost a lot of jobs lately — people who used to build cars — they have a lot of expertise in manufacturing that can be applied to new types of clean energy," she said.
Manufacturers could help build wind turbines or solar panels, for example.
The group's first meeting in Columbia focused on how to draw in more supporters and discuss their priorities with Sen. Claire McCaskill.
"We're building grassroots support to show Sen. McCaskill that her constituents want her to support a strong national clean energy plan this spring," Howard said.
The meeting started with a speech from Jan Weaver, director of Environmental Studies at MU. She warned the roughly 40 people in attendance that their ideals couldn't be accomplished quickly.
"This is nothing that will happen overnight," Weaver said. "Pace yourselves. We're in this for the long haul."
After her speech, everyone broke up into smaller groups to focus on particular goals: holding media events, developing support at the local level and building a coalition of supportive Missouri businesses.
The group plans to start writing letters to McCaskill immediately and hopes to hold a media event by mid-February.