The Voice: Spring 2002

The Voice

Students lobby in nation's capitol

By Andrew De Young

While most students were listening to lectures or writing papers, those in Dr. Fred Van Geest’s Environmental Policy and Politics class were in Washington, D.C., participating in the political process. The students lobbied on behalf of Restoring Eden, an environmental group that is working to protect the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

The refuge, some 1.5 million acres of land, is one of the world’s largest protected areas. Now the land may be used to drill for oil, which many say will make the United States less dependent on foreign oil.

That’s not necessarily true, according to Steve Brouwer, one of the students who went on the trip. He says, “It would take about ten years for the oil to even get to
market. There are alternative energies we can use, and renewable energies.” Brouwer also thinks a bill proposed by John McCain, which would require cars to run at thirty-six miles per gallon by the year 2012, could be another solution. “We have the technology to make efficient cars,” says Brouwer, “We just need to use it.”

Matt Van Voorst, another student on the trip, thinks that the ANWR issue is very relevant for Christians. “As stewards of God’s creation, we have an obligation to protect creation,” he says. “Focusing on this issue leads to the broader issue of energy and how to avoid a crisis.”

During the trip, the students got to meet with a number of congressional aides, and at one point had a meeting with one of Iowa’s senators, Chuck Grassley.

The people who went on the trip say that it was a great experience. According to Todd De Rooy, “We saw that lobbying is effective, and that senators do care about what people have to say.”

Other students found the trip useful because they are interested in careers in the political arena. Van Voorst says that he may be interested in lobbying or in city government. Brent Dieleman says, “Before the trip I wasn’t interested in a career in politics at all, but the trip made me consider a political career.”

Andrew De Young originally wrote this article for the Dordt Diamond.