CARE: Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy
State-wide Student Speech Contest Overview

Marita Noon

The average citizen has no idea how important energy is to our state and nation. The public is bombarded with news reports that talk about the negative impacts of fossil fuels and the need for clean energy. Unfortunately, reality is a lot more complicated. While fossil fuels do have a downside, they also have an upside—as in giving us every modern necessity and convenience. Our world is completely reliant on them and will be for decades to come. This reality is rarely discussed or appreciated. Additionally, while we all want to see renewable energy sources take on a much larger role in our lives, we need to realize that those energy sources currently face great limitations and that they, too, have negative impacts.

At CARE, we believe the public should clearly understand energy reality, so that people are not deceived by wishful thinking, propaganda or simply incomplete reporting. Our economy, quality of life and national security are directly tied to the nation’s ability to produce energy. Aside from a direct threat of violence on our nation, nothing is more important.

The question therefore is, “How can that message be effectively communicated to the masses?” One way we can reach the average citizen is through the various social and civic organizations that meet each month in towns and cities throughout the state. These groups need speakers for each meeting. CARE would like to be able to offer these groups speakers who can address “energy reality” issues. One of our staff will contact these groups to offer them appropriate speakers. We will add a section to our website that features the available speakers.

The next question is, “Where do we find these speakers?”

The CARE Student Speech Contest will create a pool of potential speakers who can address energy issues to the public while generating a host of benefits to the students, adding to New Mexico’s position as a leader in energy development and education, and providing industry with future energy leaders who are available for internships, summer jobs and ultimately employment.

The CARE Student Speech Contest is open to all college students—but is targeting juniors and sophomores in the chemical and/or petroleum engineering departments at UNM, NMSU and NMT. In mid-January each school will distribute an electronic “flyer” to the students (provided by CARE) that will announce the CARE Student Speech Contest and give them the rules for competition and delineate the benefits. A “qualifying” or regional round will be held at each school sometime in March. (Dates will be determined by each school to avoid conflict with midterms, spring break or any other major school activity.) The plan is for 6-12 students from each school to participate in the regional contests. Two students from each school will be awarded the opportunity to move to the final competition and will receive “Embrace Scholarship” funds (TBD). The final competition will be held in Santa Fe in late April—possibly April 20 or 23.

At the time of both the qualifying round and the final contest, media will be invited and much pre-event publicity will be generated.
Judges will include various experts in the field such as professors, energy industry leaders, professional speakers, elected officials, and representatives from the various civic organizations. Patrick Lyons, Commissioner of Public Lands, has agreed to participate as a judge if he is available. (If he is not, he will send someone from his office.) Bob Gallagher, Executive Director of NMOGA, has agreed to rally his members as judges for both the regional and final contests. Charryl Berger, Energy Advisor to Governor Richardson, has been contacted and is supportive but specific involvement is yet to be determined. We hope to have the support of Beverlee McClure—Secretary of Higher Education.

Student participants will not only benefit from the exposure through the media and to potential employers, but the top winner/winners will receive Embrace Scholarship funds (currently being sought). Additionally, qualified speakers will be paid for going to these local organizations and giving their winning presentation.

Other opportunities, such as part-time or summer work, with CARE or companies impressed with the knowledge and abilities of the speech contest participants, are also possible.

For more information or to get involved, please contact:
Marita Noon, Executive Director
CARE: Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy
505-798-6959 or

CARE: Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy
State-wide Student Speech Contest Parameters
“Energy Reality”

General Requirements
• 20 minutes in length.
• Present a focused argument on Energy Reality that explains in depth an issue that is generally unknown or misunderstood by the public.
• The presentation must be congruent with CARE’s stated mission – to educate the public about the critically important energy issues the nation faces today. Most importantly, that access to abundant, affordable energy is the foundation of America’s security, success and quality of life (visit for more information).
• Strike at the heart of one aspect of energy, causing the listener to say, “Wow, I didn’t know that.”
• Speech Contest Registration must be received by February 12, 2006. Submit registration via fax to 505.857.9774 or e-mail to:

Potential Speech Examples

1. Even the Word “Energy” is Misunderstood
• There are two fundamental forms of energy, electricity and liquid fuels for transportation.
• Talking about energy in a generic sense confuses people about the challenges we face, i.e. there are no solar or wind-powered airplanes, trains or tractor trailers.
• Draw a distinction between these two energy requirements.
• Describe one or more transportation solutions. (For example, plug-in hybrids, which transfer energy use from oil to the electrical grid.)

2. Not Developing Energy also has an Impact
• Activists, media and politicians often draw attention to the consequences of development. Consequences of any responsible development must be considered. However, choosing not to develop energy also comes with a set of consequences. This idea is rarely considered.
• Consequences of not developing energy include:
o Increased national trade imbalance
o Higher costs for energy
o American jobs sent overseas due to a loss of competitiveness
o Decreased state revenues
o Decreased energy security

3. Nothing is More Important than Energy
• Without energy security there is no national security.
• Modern society has advanced to the point that a significant majority of the population does not possess the skills necessary to survive even a matter of weeks without sufficient supplies of electricity and liquid fuels.
• Energy is the lifeblood and connective tissue of America. A sudden and significant loss of energy that lasted for more than a week or two would likely lead to anarchy.
• Energy to society is like food to the human body—nothing matters if you do not have it.

4. Can Energy Be Too Cheap?
• What is the real cost of energy by historical standards?
• Deeply discounted energy creates a unique set of problems and a sense of entitlement.
• Appropriately priced energy creates a natural incentive to conserve.
• Conservation of any resource always begins at the lower end of the economic scale. (Politicians’ desire to help poorer people with their energy needs actually undercuts the motivation to conserve.)

5. Other possible topics could be:
• What Would Life Be like In A Reduced Energy Environment?
• Do We have A Right to Affordable Energy?
• The Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY) Factor.
• Are Environmentalism and Energy Mutually Exclusive?
• Speech contestants are free to develop their own topics.

CARE: Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy
State-wide Student Speech Contest Time-line

• CARE is currently working to set up a news conference to launch this project during the legislative session in January. Representatives from education, civic groups, government, and industry will be present.
• CARE will get each school an electronic "flyer" by mid January to distribute to their students with the dates and details of the speech contest. Ideally 6-12 students from each school will participate.
• Students will have to "register" by sometime in early February (TBD).
• Regional "qualifying" rounds will be held at each school sometime in March. (Dates need to be selected that will not conflict with mid-terms or spring break.) Each school will provide a room for the contest to take place and CARE will facilitate and arrange for judging.
• 2 students from each school will go on to the final round to be held in Santa Fe—perhaps April 20 or 23.

CARE: Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy
State-wide Student Speech Contest Benefits

Benefits to Students
• An opportunity to develop a topic of interest that will enhance overall education.
• Exposure to potential employers for internships, summer jobs and ultimately permanent employment.
• Additional income through research projects for CARE.
• Payment for speeches given to civic groups.
• Scholarship funds.

Benefits to Schools
• Increased community exposure for the applicable programs.
• Student funding.
• Media presence.

Benefits to Government
• Public show of support for education, energy and the environment.
• Media presence showcasing New Mexico as a leader in developing the rising stars of the future of energy.

Benefits to Industry
• Identification of tomorrow’s energy leaders.
• Opportunity to identify potential employees in a non-interview setting.

Benefits to Civic Organizations
• No-cost speakers.
• Fresh messages of interest to general membership.
• An opportunity to support education.

Benefits to CARE
• Direct contact with the public through students’ presentations to civic organizations.
• Identification of potential researchers for CARE Projects.

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