COLUMBIA – Demonstrators lined the curb outside Sen. Claire McCaskill's downtown office Thursday morning in an effort to win support from the legislator and the public for climate-change and clean-energy legislation.
Fifteen people gathered at 915 E. Ash St. to brandish signs with messages such as "2 Million Clean Energy Jobs Now" and "Make Our Energy Clean, Make It American." A steady stream of traffic on Ash and Tenth streets yielded honks and thumbs-up gestures, to which demonstrators responded with waves and cheers.
The event was organized by Repower Missouri and Missouri Votes Conservation. It coincided with Wednesday's introduction of the American Power Act by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn. Demonstrators said they want McCaskill, a Democrat, to show strong support for the legislation as it comes through the Senate.
"We're a group of individuals and concerned citizens who want to remind Sen. McCaskill that Missourians support clean energy," said Ed Smith, climate change coordinator for Missouri Votes Conservation. "We know that right now she's not in a position to really influence that legislation, but we'd like to make sure she's ready to be proactive with it when she can."
Demonstrators expressed relief that the climate bill "has finally come to the floor" and said they hope it will move quickly through the legislative process. A similar bill was passed by the House last June.
"We feel it's really important to address the climate change issue," said Win Colwill of the League of Women Voters. "It's the most serious problem of our time, and we need to show Sen. McCaskill that many Missourians support action on climate-change and clean-energy legislation." Colwill said the senator needs to hear support from a lot of different voices.
A targeted investment toward energy efficiency and renewable energy production strategies could create approximately 2 million jobs nationwide, according to an October 2009 study at the University of California-Berkeley. A PDF of the study's findings is available at the university's website. Between 18,000 and 29,000 of those jobs would be in Missouri, according to the study.