Denounce Utah Public Schools for Praising Fossil Fuels on Earth Day

Target: Utah Board of Education

Goal: Voice dismay at the use of Earth Day in public schools to uncritically promote the mining and fossil fuel industries to children

For this Earth Day in Utah schools, kindergarteners through sixth graders have the chance to enter a poster contest to praise the fossil fuel and mining industries. The contest is endorsed by the state of Utah, and sponsored by the oil and gas industry, with the intention of improving “students’ and the public’s awareness of the important role that oil, gas, and mining play in our everyday lives.”

Of course, the contest makes no mention of the myriad ways mining and the use of fossil fuels are negatively affecting not just the Earth, but people’s everyday lives. Earth Day, April 22, is a day intended to raise awareness and support for environmental protection. It is a day celebrated worldwide to remind every human being of their reliance on the Earth and their responsibility to care for it.

But the fossil fuel and mining industries have a severe negative impact on the environment. The promotion of these industries should be relegated to paid advertisement, and kept out of government and public schools. This poster contest, however, will be attempting to give children under the age of 13 a positive impression of fossil fuels and mining, and to associate these activities with Earth Day, which is a day of environmentalism.

The negative impact of such a practice is clear. Children should not be taught that fossil fuels and mining are good for the Earth, and especially not with the support of the state. Sign the petition below to voice disgust with this thinly veiled attempt at advertising for the mining and fossil fuel industries on Earth Day in public schools.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear members of the Utah Board of Education,

As you may be aware, there is an ongoing poster contest for Utah students up to the sixth grade to enter submissions that address the theme, “Where would we be without oil, gas and mining?”

The contest is timed to coincide with Earth Day on April 22. This timing is coincidental and paradoxical at best, and deceptive and unethical at worst. That you have allowed the oil, gas, and mining industries to effectively advertise to children on Earth Day is unconscionable. Earth Day is a day meant to raise awareness of the need to protect the natural environment. Even the best regulated oil, gas, and mining does very little of that.

I am writing to express my severe misgivings about your behavior. Please at least consider the possibility that uncritically promoting fossil fuels to children on Earth Day in public schools might be a poor reflection of the spirit and purpose of the day.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Stephen Codrington via Wikimedia

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  • Hal Trufan
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