As a GRN legal intern fresh out of my first year of law school I expected to spend my summer pouring over legal documents and writing memos. I did not expect to meet the movers and shakers of Louisiana’s environmental community and get to share my views with Louisiana legislators. But I was given just that opportunity at the Environmental Voter Day in Baton Rouge last Tuesday.The day began at the Capital Welcome Center where I was able to meet active members of Louisiana’s environmental community and learn about the environmental issues currently facing Louisiana.I was excited to hear from the Recycling Foundation that reported on the state of recycling in Louisiana. After leaving Tulane and New Orleans I had almost forgotten New Orleans’ poor recycling system so I was fascinated to learn the complications involved with recycling glass. I had no clue that my glass beer bottles were essentially un-recyclable and in the next 10 or 15 years glass recycling may be nonexistent!I was also impressed with William Ankner, the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. He discussed upcoming possibilities for more environmentally friendly transportation, including the possibility of regular trains between New Orleans, Houston and Baton Rouge.But my favorite speaker was Dr. Richard Condrey from the Center for Coastal Fisheries at LSU. His talk described Louisiana’s ecology as the early settlers and explorers saw it. He drew a picture of impenetrable Cyprus forests, rivers teeming with fish, and beaches where bison roamed. This image was so different from the Louisiana I am familiar with that it incited my fervor to share my views with my representatives.After our morning session in proper Louisiana style our group second lined to the capital building, umbrellas and all!I had never been to the capital building before – it was spectacular. Entering the marble building where the laws I have spent the last year learning to interpret was a humbling and exciting moment. I saw people, like Rep. Karen Carter Peterson and Sen. Cheryl Gray, who had previously been mythical names on lawn signs in the neutral ground and on the voting ballot.But this was no walking tour. Not only did I get to see prominent Louisiana politicians I got to actually meet Sen. JP Morrell in his private office and help convince him to sign a letter to the Louisiana Congressional delegation to support the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009!As both a law student and environmentalist, environmental voter day was fascinating. I got to see where legislation happens and see the role that vocal lobbyists can play. We got several legislators to sign a letter urging our congressional delegation to not only support but also to strengthen the American Clean Energy and Security Act. We also let our legislators know that we supported tax credits for green job industries like energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. It was an educational and inspirational day. Stephanie Short is a legal intern this summer working with the GRN on Marine Resource issues.

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