How to Hold Your Own NAYGN Letter Writing Campaign
21 Aug, 2012
[Approx. Read Time: 4 mins]
Have you been thinking about ways for your North American Young Generation in Nuclear Chapter to reach out to energy policymakers and make a difference in the energy debate? It’s a fact that nuclear power must be considered as an integral part of the United States’ energy policy if we want clean, cheap, and reliable energy in the future. You could spend thousands of dollars to send members of your Chapter to Washington DC, or you could get your message across with only a little sweat equity. That’s what the Charlotte NAYGN Chapter of AREVA recently did when they held their first Letter Writing Campaign. Participants got their message across to both their state and federal government representatives on nuclear energy issues. Here’s how:
The goal of a Letter Writing Campaign is to help you, citizens and members off the nuclear industry, reach out to those who are directly responsible for energy policy decisions in our economy, so that you can make a direct impact in the energy debate.
Keep it to your NAYGN members. Half a dozen members of my NAYGN Chapter participated in our first LWC which was held in our free time–during our lunch hour. This was the ideal size for our first Campaign. As we learn how to run this more efficiently, we will be able to include more participants.
How it works (campaign outline)
Here’s how our campaign worked:
- Safety topic
- Presentation detailing process
- Open discussion of industry issues
- Template shared
- Participants wrote letters in their free time
- Safety topic
- Participants peer reviewed each others’ letters
- Participants sent their letters to their Representatives and Senators in their free time.
As shown above, a presentation was given during the first meeting of our LWC. This presentation outlined the following details:
- Contact information
- How to find your State-level and Federal-level Representatives
- Fax and Email is the most effective mode of communication
- Example letter
- A template or sample letter was shared
- Advice for how to write an effective letter was also shared
- Information resources
- Resources for facts on nuclear power’s benefits was shared
- Open discussion on issues
- An open discussion of current issues closed out the presentation
Find your Representative
We found our Representatives the following ways:
- North Carolina General Assembly – You should be able to easily search for your State’s General Assembly as well. Be sure to find out your 9-digit zip code from the USPS here.
- US House of Representatives – Enter your 5-digit zip code.
- US Senate – Search for your Senator by entering your State.
Fax & Email
A friend who worked on Capitol Hill and actually read letters, emails, and answered phone calls at their Representative’s office recommended that the most effective way to get your message across is to fax and email your letter. Letters can sit in a mail room for weeks, if not months. Faxes and emails get there immediately and are easier for the Representative’s staff to process.
Pick your issue
You need to pick two or three issues to discuss in your letter. Here are just a few ideas:
- Economic benefits
- Jobs, jobs, jobs
- Clean & cheap energy
- Existing nuclear plants
- License extensions for existing plants
- Post-Fukushima examination & review
- New nuclear plants
- New Nuclear Plants NRC certification
- Modular reactor NRC certification
- Recent Congressional action regarding License Approvals pending waste action
- Nuclear waste
- Blue Ribbon Commission
- Centralized dry-cask storage
- Yucca Mountain
Here are a few sites where you can get information on these issues:
These bullets may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised. Please take them seriously. In the age of anonymous commenting on the internet, people forget that their integrity is at stake each time they send an email, letter, or post on social media. Be honest and truthful, your goal is to influence energy policy for the betterment of the economy and people’s well-being in your community–not to use buzzwords and exaggerated truths.
Keep the following in mind as you write your letters:
- Confirm and state in your letter that you are a constituent of the Representative you are addressing.
- Explain how nuclear energy policy affects YOU.
- Always, always, always keep it factual.
- Your goal is to Educate, Enlighten, and Empower in order for people to make logical decisions regarding energy policy. Remember, most people working in government offices don’t have nuclear energy experience or education. Stay away from acronyms and tech speak.
- Identify yourself as a member of NAYGN, not the company you work for.
- Be polite. You are representing NAYGN and, most importantly, yourself.
Here is a template for your own NAYGN letter:
Here are a few example letters from our first NAYGN Letter Writing Campaign.
The obvious last step in the LWC is to fax and email your letters to your representatives.
If you’re emboldened enough, follow-up your letter with a call to the Representative’s office. Have an honest conversation with the Representative’s employee. Don’t speak directly from talking points or a fact sheet. Let them know how nuclear energy policy affects you, your family, and your community.
Do it again!
After your first Letter Writing Campaign, get your team together and talk through some lessons learned on what you can do better the next time around. Once you’ve planned your changes to your program, have another one in a few months. My Chapter is planning to do this twice per year. Other Chapters may be different. Those with more involvement may be able to hold three or four per year. Those with less involvement may only plan to do this once, and that’s okay.
Share your thoughts, suggestions, experiences, etc in the comments section below! In order for us to become a more effective organization, we need to have an open and honest conversation about our advocacy activities.