POWering Up Capitol Hill: POW Advocates for Clean Energy & Public Lands Protection in D.C.


By: Stacie Sullivan

Photos by POW Creative Alliance member Chris Shane

Last week, POW staff and Alliance members leveraged the momentum from the introduction of the Energizing Our Communities Act (EOCA), sponsored by Senator Welch (VT) and Representative Kuster (NH), by hitting the ground in Washington D.C. to engage with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Our objective: to amplify support for the bill, and find additional co-sponsors and pave its path through Congress.

During our visit, we were joined by POW Athlete Alliance members—professional skier Drew Petersen, mountain biker Dillon Osleger, climber Abbey Smith, and snowboarder Bea Kim—who participated in 17 impactful meetings: 14 member and staff meetings in the House and Senate, and three administrative meetings with the Department of Energy, Bureau of Land Management and the White House’s Climate Policy Office. These athletes told their personal climate stories, spoke on why responsible development and deployment of clean energy infrastructure is important to the 168 million people who belong to the Outdoor State™ and advocated for public land protections. 

Abbey Smith and Erin Sprague meeting with Rep. Tonko’s (D-NY) office and his staffer Brendan Larkin

“Many of you probably think of “lobbying” as a negative, dirty word. You’re right–the fossil fuel lobby is outspending us 20:1 to keep killing our planet,” said POW’s CEO Erin Sprague “My question for a bunch of hyper-competitive POW athletes is this: do you want to keep losing this race or fight for the win? We may be underdogs, but we’re not afraid to bark. As our Founder Jeremy Jones often says, the other side of this fight may have the lead but we have something more valuable: we are on the right side of history.”

Here’s what we were advocating for: 

The Energizing Our Communities Act

The main purpose for our visit to Washington D.C. was to meet with lawmakers and gain further support of the bill (S. 4154 and H.R. 8047) We also were there to give updates on electrical grid transmission policy in upcoming permitting reform negotiations and create a bill strategy on how to move it forward. Our key talking points included:

  • In order to reach our clean energy goals and address climate change, we need to responsibly develop and deploy renewable energy.
  • The approximately 1400 gigawatts of available renewable energy has to reach communities. To do so, we need to rapidly build transmission lines to deploy affordable energy across the country.
  • Communities that host transmission and other energy infrastructure need real incentives to come to the table and work with developers and other key stakeholders to build and operate this energy infrastructure.
  • Responsible deployment of renewable energy and transmission development must tangibly support local communities.
  • Community participation will help alleviate the growing backlog of permit applications and ensure projects can move forward.
  • This legislation would build a fund to support community needs like roads, schools, healthcare, first responders, as well as outdoor recreation and stewardship. 
The POW team meeting with Senator Welch

“POW made an impact last week in DC by taking the gargantuan, daunting crisis of climate change and distilling it into a tangible, common-sense step towards a solution with the EOCA, then connected on a human level with the decision makers in a position to make that solution a reality,” said professional skier and POW Alliance member Drew Petersen.

Protect The Dolores

POW is supporting the proposal of a National Monument designation and the National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act for Montrose, San Miguel, and Mesa counties in Southwest Colorado which encompasses 68,000 acres of pristine wilderness facing threats from oil and gas exploration. This public land offers world-class opportunities for recreation including whitewater rafting, hiking, birdwatching, biking and climbing.

We met with Senator Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO) to ask for the House of Natural Resources Committee to push for the passage of the National Conservation Ask and to urge the administration to designate a National Monument with the support of Senator Hickenlooper and Bennet. This designation would ensure preservation of the landscape and watershed, crucial for adapting to climate change and drought.

Ruby Mountains Protection Act:

POW supports the Ruby Mountains Protection Act sponsored by Senators Cortez Mastro and Rosen. The Ruby’s, in Nevada, hold a rich cultural history and span 450,000 acres of public land, offering endless opportunities for skiing, hiking and angling. Home to diverse wildlife, including mule deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, Himalayan Snowcock, brook, rainbow and the threatened Lahontan Cutthroat trout—this cherished land faces the threat of oil and gas exploration. The passage of this bill would ensure the preservation of natural wonders and safeguard the land for future generations. You can learn more and support our efforts by taking action here. 

“This was my first lobby trip, and I was able to see firsthand how POW can have an impact on effecting change. Working together, POW’s policy experts and Athlete Alliance members were able to share important information as well as personal stories with Senators, Representatives, and their staff. I now understand how impactful our personal and professional connections to the outdoors can be when speaking to those in DC,” said professional snowboarder and POW Alliance member Bea Kim. “We spent two packed days on Capitol Hill and at the White House, but one of the most memorable and inspiring experiences was when we saw Senator Cortez Masto as she was running from one engagement to another. I saw how her expression changed and she stopped to speak with us when we told her we were from POW. I witnessed the mutual respect the Senator and POW have for each other’s respective and collective works.”

POW Alliance member Bea Kim

What comes next?

This trip marked our first collaboration with congressional staff to advance the EOCA, generating excitement about propelling the bill forward through Congress and identifying new avenues for change. The success of these meetings is thanks to our dedicated Alliance members—Drew Petersen, Abbey Smith, Bea Kim, and Dillon Osleger—who shared their stories with lawmakers, and the POW staff who orchestrated this trip behind the scenes. 

From left to right: Drew Petersen, Dillon Osleger, Abbey Smith and Bea Kim

“I know I’m in the majority when I admit that I often feel despondent and pessimistic about the future of the planet, and at times, government too,” said Petersen.”But lobbying in DC lit a fire within me full of optimism that progress to meaningful action on climate is not only possible, but in motion with more wins right on the doorstep.”

We’re only part of the equation. We need you—members of the Outdoor State—to amplify our efforts to ensure our voices resonate in D.C. Take action today by writing to your lawmakers in support of the EOCA.

Stacie Sullivan

Author: Stacie Sullivan

Stacie always knew she wanted to pursue a career in the ski industry from a young age, having first clicked into skis at the age of 4 and writing her 8th grade career project on being a professional skier. While her dreams of becoming a professional athlete didn’t quite pan out the way she planned at […]