Students voice opinion for future energy options

The future of Arizona’s energy took center stage Wednesday evening at the inaugural Arizona Youth Town Hall in the Old Main Carson Ballroom on the Tempe campus.

University and community college students were in attendance as well as elected county officials. Attendees also included leaders from the nonprofit civic group Arizona Town Hall, a parent organization of the USG created group Youth Town Hall, or YTH.

“It’s a way to have our emerging and student leaders become informed about these issues, to have their voices heard and to be a part of whatever solutions are created,” Arizona Town Hall President Tara Jackson said.

USG created YTH to give a student voice to issues that affect all Arizona residents.

“The (Arizona) Town Hall was looking for ways to incorporate the youth voice because the average age at the Town Hall is around 45,” USG president and political science senior Jacob Goulding said. “We worked together over the summer to come up with a solution to involve the students and we decided upon the Youth Town Hall, which would be modeled after Arizona Town Hall.”

Bernie Ronan, the associate vice chancellor of Public Affairs at Maricopa Community Colleges, highlighted the importance of YTH.

“This is an intensely political experience,” Ronan said. “It’s one that we cherish and fortunately we have the rare opportunity to sit down as fellow citizens and talk about the things that matter to us.”

During the event, town hall attendees broke off into small groups to consider answers to questions such as how the production and provision of energy impacts the environment and natural resources, in addition to the quality of life and economy.

One suggestion was a movement toward algae-based bio-fuels and solar energy, which would capitalize on Arizona’s climate.

The issue of renewable and sustainable energy is especially important because of the high use of coal, natural gas and nuclear power, which provides 83 percent of Arizona’s energy, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

The next Youth Town Hall meeting is slated for spring and will be addressing civic engagement.


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