Write Your Member Of Congress

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Research shows that, other than meeting with your member of Congress, personal emails and letters are the next best effective form of advocacy. We encourage you to generate as many letters to your member of Congress as possible each month. Setting a goal for your chapter is one good way to do that. 
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Deciding on the format

The Congressional Management Foundation highlights that as long as they’re personalized, email and letters are nearly equally effective. In fact, a clear majority (90%) of Congressional office respondents to one of Congressional Management Foundation’s surveys agreed that fewer than 100 personalized emails on a given issue is enough to get their office to consider taking the requested action.  

If there is no rush, handwritten letters are great because of the relationship building potential. Think about the last time you got a handwritten letter from someone. It really makes an impact, especially in a time when we’re buried in email. Letters that arrive in an envelope go through anthrax screening and delivery will be delayed 2-3 weeks. 
The most effective communication is the one you actually send, so if doing it by email will get you to send more letters, either way helps generate political will for climate action. 

Using CCL’s online email tools

When you use our online tool to send your email, the tool will provide you an example message for you to customize and send and automatically log the email in the Action Tracker. This helps us track how many emails your member of Congress is receiving.

The latest online actions are always available at 

Making your letter personal

It’s not hard to write a compelling letter to your member of Congress that will help move them forward on climate policy. Here’s a basic outline:

  • Introduce yourself, sharing something personal (e.g. “I’m a constituent and a voter,” or “I live in [city] with my family”)
  • Share your concern about climate change (e.g. “Climate is a priority issue for me”) and why the issue is important to you
  • Make your “ask.” This could be as specific as asking them to cosponsor or vote for a certain piece of legislation, or as general as asking them to prioritize climate change and support a price on carbon.
Helpful talking points about a price on carbon

Here are a few talking points about a price on carbon that might be helpful to use when you write a letter to Congress:

  • A strong, economy-wide price on carbon could reduce America’s carbon pollution by 50% by 2030, putting us on track to reach net zero by 2050.
  • Businesses will respond to a price on carbon by becoming more energy efficient and innovating new technologies, which will lead to abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy.
  • Carbon pricing policies can include a regular “carbon cash back” payment to Americans. This protects low- and middle-income households financially as America transitions to a clean-energy economy.
  • A carbon price will save 4.5 million American lives over the next 50 years by restoring clean air across the country.
  • A carbon fee will incentivize innovation by America’s businesses, creating millions of new jobs that will transform our economy and put Americans back to work.

Find more information to include in your letter, as well as sources for the information, here.

Additional tips

You can include talking points, but make the message it your own. Here are a few other tips:

  • Be personal, polite and factual.
  • If you write an handwritten letter, be sure to use the appropriate title every time you communicate. On the envelope: “The Honorable [Full Name].” In the salutation: “Dear Representative/Senator [Last Name],”
  • Write about only one issue.
  • Be short and concise.
  • If your handwriting is not very legible, type your letter.
  • Include your address so they know you are a constituent.
  • Consider hosting a letter writing party for other group members (see more ideas for what's worked for other groups here)
Sample Letter

Feel free to use any part of the outline below and share your sample letters here in the forums!

Dear Congresswoman XXXXX,

Since my first child was born in 2004, I’ve fallen in love with Virginia’s beaches all over again. It’s wonderful to be able to share them with my family, and I’m grateful for your consistent support for protecting our priceless coast.

In the decades to come, however, rising sea levels will increasingly threaten the beaches and shorelines that are so important to all Virginians. The recent king tides that have flooded so many homes in Hampton Roads are an early sign of a trend that will place communities, livelihoods, and crucial habitats at risk.

I’m writing now to ask that you support legislation that includes carbon pricing.  Carbon pricing can help reduce America’s carbon pollution by 40% within 12 years and bring climate change under control while unleashing American technology innovation and ingenuity.

Thank you very much for your attention; I would welcome a reply at your convenience.

Sincerely,

XXXXXXX

Address

Finding the address (if mailing)

Use the Congressional Directory to find the mailing address for your member of Congress. Or, use the following generic physical address:

Rep. NAME HERE

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

 

Sen. NAME HERE

U.S. Senate

Washington, DC 20510

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Instructor(s)
  • Todd Elvins
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Go Deeper
Want to build your relationship with your Member of Congress even further? Check out the Working With Congress topic series.
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Lobbying Congress
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