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September 15, 2014

Beating the Heat in Bellevue for Clean Energy and Climate Action


During the dog days of summer late last month, the Sierra Club sponsored a "Beat the Heat" event in Bellevue, Washington, to support Governor Jay Inslee's call for climate action and pressure Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to come up with a plan to transition from coal to clean energy.


Free ice cream cones were provided for the anticipated crowd of 250, but that proved to be too few. "Closer to 300 people turned out," says Seth Ballhorn, a Seattle-based organizer for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign. "We hit our limit of 250 free ice cream cones in the first hour, but fortunately we were able to pay for additional cones."


The Sierra Club partnered with the youth mobilization group Washington Bus, progressive advocacy group Fuse Washington, and the Washington Environmental Council in putting on the event.


"We had some great activities," Ballhorn says. "Three bands performed, and the opening band Right as Rain played some great coal-themed folk and bluegrass tunes. Table for Three and The Jalapeños also performed. As always, our giant inflatable coal plant was a hit with the crowd, and it provided a great backdrop for the event."


Speakers included Bellevue City Councilmember Lyn Robinson, who talked about the steps the city is taking to reduce climate pollution and encouraged PSE to clean up its act. Activists with Washington Bus talked about the moral imperative of tackling climate disruption, and Evan Leonard, vice-president of local unionized solar company Artisan Electric talked about the abundant clean energy in the Northwest and how jobs can be created converting to clean energy -- Artisan started with four employees in 2010 and now has more than 40.

Seth-BallhornBallhorn, at left, wrapped up the speaking portion of the program with a call to action, urging people to support Governor Inslee's climate/clean energy agenda and help pressure Puget Sound Electric to quit coal and .

"We collected around 90 photo petitions using our iPads, 130 more petitions to PSE using iPads and clipboards, and signed people up to be Coal Free PSE petition captains," Ballhorn says. The Sammamish Nature Club had a kids' tree-planting table, face-painting, and games for younger participants in the rally.

"It was a very festive environment, with a noticeably diverse crowd," Ballhorn says. "I look forward to getting a lot of the new folks we signed up plugged in with our campaign in the coming weeks."

Learn more about the Sierra Club's work to move Washington beyond coal, and how you can get involved.


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