Local, State and National Level Policy Engagement
It's critical that we consider our relationships with federal lawmakers and national organizations when we are choosing to engage in local and state work. CCL is very well respected by members of Congress from both parties and we want to preserve those relationships and the power to create change that comes from those relationships. And we see how state and local engagement are critical not just to solving climate change, but to building the relationships in our communities that help us build the political will for federal action.
Below is some guidance on what CCL chapters should consider before engaging at the local, state or national level.
Overall Guidance for Volunteers
- Focus Our Policy Agenda - CCL chapters should work primarily within our policy agenda with some exceptions for bipartisan legislation that will build relationships, or on the topic of climate in general (for instance a resolution on climate action, or a bill that sets emissions targets). It is best for CCLers to engage where we have training and education available so we encourage you to stay within the current policy agenda of Carbon Pricing, Healthy Forests, Building Electrification and Efficiency, and Clean Energy Permitting Reform.
- Things to avoid - Some policies are more likely than others to drive polarization and alienation, and CCL should avoid engaging on these topics. For instance, anything that can be characterized as a “natural gas ban” is quite polarizing right now, and CCL should not be advocating for such policies. Other polarizing examples include “leave it in the ground” campaigns, campaigns against pipelines or drilling projects (such as the Willow project in Alaska), or anti-fracking efforts (which also fall outside of our policy area focuses). Of course, CCLers can engage on these topics as individuals, avoiding identifying themselves with CCL credentials (this includes when providing testimony at a hearing).
- Carbon Pricing Specifics - For years we have supported CCL chapters in engaging on carbon pricing efforts in their states as long as they will result in meaningful emissions reductions, support low- and middle-income households, and are politically viable for the state. What that means in each state will vary, and you should still consider whether engaging on pricing in your state is a good use of your time, will build relationships and political will, is likely to move us towards passage of effective climate solutions, etc. We’ve generally found that CCL is most successful when it can work in coalition with other organizations that have experience working with your state legislature, ideally with staff in the capitol.
Different Political Environments Call For Different Engagement
- Bipartisanship is best, whenever it is possible.
- This is in line with our values and helps build a culture of working across the aisle on climate change.
- Red States
- In states where the legislature is Republican controlled, and the Governor is Republican, it is essential that any effort have Republicans on the legislation. There is very little point in working on a Democrat only bill in a red state. It’s best to work on efforts that can build political will on climate and provide cover for federal legislators. Our volunteers’ work in Utah is a great example.
- Blue States
- In states where the legislature is controlled by Democrats and the Governor is a Democrat it is OK to engage on Democrat-only legislation that aligns with our values and policy areas. We should still be conscious of the impact that our efforts might have on our relationships with any Republican federal legislators in the state. These blue-state Republicans are sometimes key voices for climate in Washington so they can be strategically important to our work, so it can be important to avoid issues that are really polarizing (see “Things to avoid” above).
- Purple States
- In states with mixed control of the state government, bipartisanship is obviously key, though that can come at different stages in the process (e.g. states with Democratic legislatures and a Republican Governor are different than the other way around). CCL volunteers should always consider the political viability of legislation before investing too much time and energy in it.
Specific Guidance for Chapters For Local Policy (City, County, Municipal)
- We trust our local groups and leadership to determine what is appropriate to support at the local level and count on you to factor into your decision how your local action may impact CCL’s work in your state, as well as at the national level, and on your congressional delegation.
- We ask you to consult your Regional Coordinators when considering local policy or action that is outside our policy agenda and/or controversial, and to update your state or regional coordinator as things progress.
- Chapters can publicly support local policy in your own chapter name as distinct from CCL nationally (Example: “Citizens' Climate Lobby, Grand Traverse Area Chapter”)
- Chapters can sign-on to a “sign-on letter” that pertains to local policy/programs, where the signatories are mainly local groups. Chapters should sign on with your chapter name and logo (click to create your own chapter logo) (as distinct from CCL's logo nationally).
Specific Guidance for Chapters For State Level Policy
- This guidance also applies to regions smaller than a state, like “the Bay Area.” State policy actions typically involve multiple chapters and have a higher profile, so it’s important to choose them carefully to further our national strategic goals. Policies and actions that are divisive and not part of our national agenda should be avoided (See Things to Avoid above). The State Policy Action Team is a good place to connect with others engaging at the state level and get questions answered by our team in DC.
- Chapters in a state can work together to publicly support state policy or sign-on to a state-level “sign-on letter” (one that pertains to a state policy/program, where signatories are mainly state-level groups), as long as:
- The State Coordinator(s) and Regional Coordinator have considered the policy and political context and agree with this choice. Regional Coordinators will consult with our team in DC as needed.
- And the majority of chapters (ideally all) in the state (or affected area) are in agreement, and all chapters have had a chance to weigh in (via their group leaders).
- Once the above requirements are met, individual chapters can sign on (e.g. Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Indianapolis Chapter) or they can sign on collectively as a state (e.g. Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Indiana). Make sure to use a chapter or state logo, rather than a national CCL logo.
Specific Guidance for Chapters For National Policy
- In general, you are encouraged to use the policy agenda and legislative asks and actions that CCL national provides so that we are working as a strong national team and can maximize our impact.
- If there is a specific request from a member of congress to a specific chapter, that chapter can offer:
- Low-level public support (examples:social media shoutout, LTE that highlights the MOC action, reaching out to the office to offer support/engagement, op-ed ghost written by your chapter and published under your MOC’s name)
- Private support on national policy (examples: an email of appreciation to staff, an appreciation in a lobby meeting, etc.).
- For high-level public support you should first consult with your State Coordinator or Regional Coordinator
- (examples: a public statement of support for the legislation, or inclusion of a quote from a chapter leader/State Coordinator/Regional Coordinator in a press release.) Regional Coordinators will inform and consult with our Government Affairs staff.
- Because we need to work as a national team, individual chapters should not:
- Endorse federal policy.
- Sign on to “sign-on letters” pertaining to national programs/policy or in which the signatories are mainly national groups.
Note: See Engaging City and Local Governments For Resolutions for info on local resolutions in support of national policy.
Join the State Policy Action Team