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You don't have to check your environmental activism at the gate when you go to a football game. Cumberland (Kentucky) Chapter volunteer Patty Draus didn't. Here's the report she sent us about meeting Trent Lott at an Ole Miss game.

When Dave Cooper and I decided to go to the University of Kentucky-Ole Miss football game on Saturday, I never dreamed I would end up lobbying Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott.

Yet there he was, standing in the concourse before the game, shaking hands and slapping backs with Ole Miss fans.

What should we say to him? Anything? We had come to the game to relax and enjoy a gorgeous autumn day in Kentucky watching college football.

"Senator, we need to do something about energy conservation," I said as I shook his hand. "We're destroying our Kentucky mountains, Republicans want to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - we need to focus on conservation of energy instead of more exploration."

"Well, we need to do both," he replied, looking a little surprised.

"No, we need to increase mileage averages for sport-utility vehicles," I said.

Then he said the two words that set my hair on end: "clean coal."

"Sir, that coal is not clean."

I told him about the horrible spill of 300 million gallons of coal slurry at a strip mine in Martin County, Ky., last October.

"I mean clean when we burn it," he replied, looking for an exit.

"We have 24 permits in progress for power plants in Kentucky," I said. He seemed surprised by that.

"Yes, 24, and we are very concerned about how it will affect our air quality. We need to put our money into conservation and developing alternative energy technologies. I realize a lot of our money needs to go to protecting the United States right now, but if we want national security, we should be self-sufficient - not so reliant on fossil fuels."

"Yes, yes, we need to do all these things including exploration," he replied.

I sensed my time was up, so I thanked him and he was back to shaking more Ole Miss hands.

As I walked away, my mind was whirling. I don't care for Lott's policies - his environmental voting record is the pits - but he was polite and courteous and isn't afraid to meet to with the public (unlike our Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell).

Maybe I even made a small impression on him. Maybe if a few more people talked to him about energy conservation, it might really help change things in Washington.

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