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Earlier this month during the FreedomWorks Fly-In we had the opportunity to meet with several young activists from New Jersey. During their time with us they were able to to head to Capitol Hill to lobby against the Utility MACT with their Congressmen and Senators.
The following was written by one activist, Chris Boyajian, on his experiences lobbying with FreedomWorks.
On Monday, June 11th, I spent my afternoon on Capitol Hill meeting with staff from multiple Congressional offices from the State of New Jersey. Accompanied by four friends, we urged our Congressmen to vote in affirmation of SJR37, the Senate Resolution to strike down the EPA’s Utility MACT rule.
What sets our little lobbyist crew apart from others is our youth. With an aggregate age of 84 (that’s an average age of 16 – there’s 5 of us), the majority of our group represented a demographic of the constituency that will not even possess the power to vote in the 2012 election. This fact did give our group an edge, as our age disproved multiple stereotypes. As members of a generation that is heavily criticized for its destined failure, we voiced opinions that are particularly unpopular among today’s youth. “And here I thought this was going to be an easy meeting,” a staff member at Senator Menendez’s office told us, after hearing our concerns.
For some of the group, myself included, this trip marks our third annual trip to Capitol Hill, and our third annual trip to FreedomWorks. Empowering our student lobbyist team with information and resources, FreedomWorks has helped us lobby twice before on topics including health care reform and cap and trade. This year marks the first time we attended the FreedomWorks Fly-In Bootcamp. After spending a long weekend being educated on current policy issues and campaign strategies, we were able to speak intelligently about the EPA and its Utility MACT rule.
We first visited the offices of Congressmen Runyan and LoBiondo, from New Jersey’s 3rd and 2nd districts, respectively. We quickly learned that both congressmen had voted yes on a partnering House resolution late last year. From there, we walked to the Hart building, where the offices of NJ Senators Lautenberg and Menendez are located. Although both Senators plan to vote in opposition of the resolution, our presence helped bring attention to the concerns of New Jersey citizens.
Though our contribution to the FreedomWorks' agenda is small, our activist crew (an affiliate with the Junior State of America) will continue to break down standards and stereotypes by taking a proactive approach to enacting change in all levels of government.