October 4, 2010

C.U. Student Campaign Against Offshore Drilling Exceeds Expectations

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Last month’s bombardment of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s office with phone calls from Cornell student activists urging tighter offshore drilling standards was one of the most successful campus campaigns in the national Greenpeace “Week of Action,” according to Lucia Von Reusner ’12, the event’s organizer. The Week of Action –– September 13-17 –– galvanized young activists around the country to raise awareness about unsafe drilling projects and to call for safer sources of energy in the wake of Deepwater Horizon’s explosion last April. Von Reusner said the final tally of Cornell student calls exceeded her goal of 400, ultimately reaching about 412. She said the total at the University was more than any of the other 37 participating schools. “The campaign ended up going really well … We definitely got the highest number by far,” she said. Von Reusner noted the dedication of the 24 volunteers who urged students around campus to make the calls and whose ranks, she said, increased throughout the week when passers-by spontaneously decided to donate their time. Von Reusner described how when the students began calling Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s office, there was only one person answering the phone. By the end of each day, however, she said there were four or five people manning the phone line to accommodate the volume of calls. Though Greenpeace does not yet have a final tally for all the participating schools conducting phone drives or other activities to boost awareness, Ruth Morrison, Greenpeace National Student Network Coordinator, seemed confident that the week was a success. “Students across the country know that more drilling is not only a mistake, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. So they made calls, hundreds, thousands of calls, to Ken Salazar helping to make his choice — red light or green light — pretty obvious,” wrote Morrison on the organization’s website. This week, Salazar announced the implementation of newer, tougher restrictions on oil and gas drilling — including a “drilling safety rule” and “workplace safety rules” — a move that Von Reusner saw as motivated partly by the efforts of student activists at Cornell and around the country. “I feel like this was a great step that we helped influence,” Von Reusner said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this happened two weeks after we had this amazing campaign.”Salazar’s office could not be reached Monday for comment on the possible impact of student activism on the decision to impose tougher safety restrictions.

Original Author: Eliza LaJoie