1,500 Advocates Press Congress For Price On Carbon
By Steve Valk, CCL Communications Director
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2019 -- Some 1,500 volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby swarmed Capitol Hill Tuesday to make their case for bipartisan legislation to put a fee on carbon and give the revenue to American households.
Climate advocates had meetings scheduled with 529 offices in the House and Senate to generate support for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). The legislation would place a fee on the carbon dioxide content of fossil fuels that would ramp up $10 a ton each year. The revenue will be given to every American as an equal monthly payment, which provides a financial benefit to the majority of families. The bill currently has 46 House members signed on, including Florida Republican Francis Rooney.
“I think we had a good day,” said CCL Vice President for Government Affairs Danny Richter. “I expect to see a surge of new cosponsors on the bill, and many doors opened for our volunteers on the Hill.”
Since Tuesday, June 11th - six representatives have already joined, including Dwight Evans (PA-03) and Daniel Kildee (MI-05) - both on the House Ways & Means committee - Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Rep. Alma Adams (NC-12), who has already cosponsored the Green New Deal.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is expected to introduce a Senate version of the bill when he identifies a Republican cosponsor, and CCL volunteers asked their senators, especially Republicans, to work with Coons to introduce the bill as bipartisan legislation.
Throughout the day, volunteers imparted the message that it’s time to make climate change a bridge issue between the parties instead of a wedge issue.
“This is a problem that’s too big for one party to handle,” said CCL Executive Director Mark Reynolds. “We’re taking a bipartisan approach to solving climate change because it’s the only viable pathway to enacting major legislation, and we think the Energy Innovation Act can bridge the divide between Democrats and Republicans.”
Throughout the morning, volunteers also participated in an outdoor public event on the western side of the Capitol, “Hometown to the House,” where they took to the stage to tell their personal stories about why the climate issue was important enough to them to come to Washington and deliver their message to Congress.
“I was really moved by some of the stories our volunteers told,” said Reynolds. “There was one person who was faced with the choice of coming to Washington or being home for the birth of her grandchild. She asked her daughter what she should do, and her daughter said, ‘Go to DC. This is the best gift you can give to your granddaughter.’ As it turned out, the baby came before she left home.”
Joachim Tucker, a 12-year-old who lives near Lake Tahoe, shared about the fear he has of wildfires in California:
“Just three months ago we saw a forest fire that burned down an entire town 55 miles from where I live. Every time a major forest fire happens, the ash and smoke fills our backyard. The ash just comes down on top of our house. That’s really scary. Some people are saying it’s our generation that’s going to fix this mess. We all made this mess together, and we’ll all clean it up.”
About 60 percent of the volunteers who came to the CCL conference and lobby day were first-timers, and a number of them shared their experience at a reception Tuesday evening. One of them was a 27-year-old student from the University of Cincinnati, Briana Harper, a former U.S. Marine.
“After getting out of the service, I thought, ‘What am I going to do with my life?’ Whatever I did, it had to serve the people and it had to serve the world, because after you come from the Marine Corps, you can’t go down from there. You have to go up. In my community there are not many people who pay attention to environmental issues, mostly because we have a lot of other issues to worry about. It bothers me because sometimes it feels like I’m the only one. You almost feel like there’s nothing you can do, but then I came here and I saw all of you and I said, ‘Dang!’
“All of you give me hope and you give me inspiration. You give me something to go back to my community and show them how important it is to get involved and be part of the movement and have a seat at the table. And I just thank you all for embracing me and allowing me to speak and let my voice be meaningful to you all.”
During her lobbying on the Hill, Briana had the opportunity to meet with Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis (pictured to right).