How Rep. Casten Integrated Pop Culture and FERC to Promote Climate Change
Listen up y’all ‘cause this is it….
Representative Sean Casten (D-IL brought together the unlikely summer mash-up we didn’t know we needed, Megan thee Stallion and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC. In a series of House Floor speeches promoting ‘Hot FERC Summer’ and hailing FERC as being ‘FERCalicious’, Rep. Casten highlighted the integral role FERC plays within U.S. policymaking, as well as saving our planet.
FERC is the overseer of Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO) and Independent System Operators (lSO) that manage much of the country’s power grid. Prior to ‘Hot FERC Summer’, most Americans couldn’t name the governing body over the power grid nor understand it’s tied to reversing climate change. FERC can take charge of America’s transition to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as well as set emissions regulations on more traditional forms of energy, like coal and natural gas.
By harnessing the power of pop culture refences, Rep. Casten has brought political acronyms to the people, noting the importance of reversing climate change through government agencies.
That’s hot hot, as both Rep. Casten and Fergie in ‘Fergalicious’ would say.
Many people, including climate activists, recognize the importance clean energy plays in creating a carbon-neutral society, and yet, until recently, there was no way for people to interact with FERC in any meaningful ways. After 40 years of waiting for the budget to come through, FERC has finally established an Office of Public Participation, the natural next step in expanding the public interaction with FERC.
Having effective policies to reverse climate change is important, but maybe just having effective rhetoric in how we talk about reversing climate change is of equal importance. Much of the rhetoric that comes out of Congress surrounding climate change is confusing, boring, and contains far too many acronyms (we’re looking at you, FERC).
Effective policy communication matters. When done well, it takes wonky vocabulary and explains how it’s relation to the average person, describing the impact on both the individual and the community. Often, conversations about climate change are full of data, talking about drops in emissions by percentages and the technical explanations of how many gigawatts solar farms can create. It is important to take these concepts to the end, explaining in lay terms the implication of data points.
For the bad rap they’re given, Millennials and Gen-Zs are far more active in addressing climate change directly than their Baby Boomer and Gen X counterparts, yet are less involved in policymaking. Rep. Casten and his communications team accomplished did what many have been unable to do, get people talking about FERC’s role in reversing climate change (with 36K views on Twitter at the time of writing). By using the language of the people, or Fergie, more people are able to understand energy policy and the role regulatory bodies can play in reversing climate change.
A key tool Rep. Casten’s team was able to effectively leverage to multiply the impact of their message was social media. While CSPAN may not have had the speech delivered over ‘Fergalicious’, social media platforms did. The background music and framing on social media made the video more appealing for a younger, exclusively digital audience. Their team was able to mimic trending video concepts from TikTok and Instagram without seeming out of place. Other policymakers and companies can take note, instead of simply posting speeches, taking simple steps like adding background music or graphics makes content stand out amongst the overload of content on social media.
As #hotFERCsummer comes to a close, Rep. Casten has educated the masses not only about the role FERC plays in reversing climate change but also demonstrated excellently the merge of federal policy and pop culture. More crossovers like this may be what finally gets policy crafted that saves our planet.