In an event this morning, Sierra Club, Central Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light, and other allied groups presented hundreds of letters, comments, drawings and paintings gathered at a series of statewide meetings calling for Governor Mike Beebe to make clean energy a major part of his Administration's upcoming energy plan.
Arkansas is among the top 10 states nationwide for clean tech jobs as a percentage of the overall workforce, and clean tech jobs can continue to grow with further investment in clean energy policies and programs. At each of the four statewide meetings, hundreds of people showed their support for clean energy as a priority in the Arkansas energy plan.
"As Governor Beebe and his staff develop the first-ever energy plan for Arkansas, we ask that they hear the voices of hundreds of Arkansans who are calling for clean energy jobs for the Natural State," said Lev Guter, with Sierra Club. "At our final meeting, children at the Boys and Girls Club were excited and enthusiastic about the promise of clean energy for their future, and as clean tech jobs are already positioning Arkansas a leader, further support for clean energy policies and investment in clean tech will grow our economy while protecting our future."
The four meetings held across the state demonstrated the geographic, economic, and social diversity of clean energy supporters in Arkansas. Sierra Club and Central Arkansas Interfaith Power & Light partnered with student groups, clean energy and sustainability-focused business groups, and the Boys and Girls Club of Jefferson County to present information about how Arkansas generates its power and hear from members of the public. To date, the Governor's office has not invited public comment and input on its energy planning.
"People of faith care deeply about the protection of the planet for future generations, so it is important for us to share our vision for Arkansas' energy economy," said Reverend Steve Copley, chair of the Central Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light group. "This deep concern is highlighted in most traditions' sacred texts that call for us to be good stewards of the earth. These public meetings are a fantastic opportunity for citizens to provide input on energy issues and to be part of the decision making process."
Arkansas reportedly generates slightly less than 50-percent of its electric power from coal, yet the state has significant potential for energy savings through efficiency programs and potential for energy production from renewable sources like solar, wind, and geothermal power. Nationwide, trends show less electricity is produced by burning coal each year, as wind and solar increasingly power the Midwest, Texas, California, and New Jersey.