July 28, 2016

By Stu Pettygrove

Four members of the Yolo chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) – Rob and Terry Beggs of Woodland, and Mike Russell and Stu Pettygrove of Davis – traveled to Washington, D.C., for the 2016 Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) Conference and Lobby Day, attended by more than 1,000 chapter leaders, members,and congressional liaisons.

At the opening session of the conference on June 19th, CCL executive director Mark Reynolds got us fired up with the following promise:

“By the end of 2017, we will have Congress pass a bill that places a fee on carbon and returns the revenue to households. I’m asking people who are already 100% committed to go all in at another level.”

This was the moment – electrifying and just a little scary – that we had been waiting for – many of us for years. It got us up on our feet!

The conference keynote address was delivered by Dr. Michael Mann, whose research led to the famous “hockey stick” graph that shows the alarming rise in average global temperatures during the 20th Century.

What is Carbon Fee and Dividend?

Since its founding nine years ago, CCL has advocated for federal “carbon fee and dividend” legislation. The carbon fee and dividend model places a steadily rising fee on carbon-based fuels — oil, gas, and coal – levied at the wellhead, mine, or refinery, then gives 100% of the “net fees” back to households in equal shares each month. It also includes a border adjustment designed to stop business relocations and unfair competition from businesses outside the US.

Citizens Climate Lobby sponsored a study of carbon fee and dividend in 2014 known as “the REMI study” by Regional Economic Models, Inc. The study examined the impact of the fee and dividend model and determined that for most low- and middle-income families, the dividend would offset any increase in household expenses resulting from higher energy prices and would be good for the economy overall.

Recent Citizens Climate Lobby Successes

Momentum is building in Congress for climate action. A recent success in which CCL played a key role includes introduction of the Gibson Resolution (H. Res 424) by Chris Gibson (R-NY) in September 2015.

Resolution 424, currently signed by 14 House Republicans, states that human-caused global warming poses a threat to society. The resolution shows that in spite of “climate denial” and the partisan divide in Congress, a patient, bipartisan approach can bear fruit. Another success was achieved in February 2016, when a bipartisan 16-member House Climate Solutions Caucus was established, with equal numbers from both sides of the aisle.

CCL citizen lobbyists in Washington DC June 2016
CCL citizen lobbyists, 750 strong, gather on the Capitol steps in Washington, D.C. on June 21, 2016. Photo courtesy Shawn Reeder, Citizens Climate Lobby.

Lobbying Meetings

In the days following the conference, nearly 750 CCL citizen lobbyists held a total of 507 meetings with Congressional representatives and staff to talk about climate.

Three members of our Yolo group were scheduled to meet John Garamendi (CA-3), but at the meeting time he was participating in the sit-in on the House floor to demand a vote on gun control legislation. The meeting was with his staff instead.

Also, two from our group were part of a delegation that met with staff members of the House Agricultural Committee to discuss farm policy as related to climate and energy.

Members of our group also met with Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-9), the legislative director for Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other offices.

What’s Next?

For years, CCLers across the country have been gaining endorsements for carbon fee and dividend in their communities, writing op-eds and letters to the editor, and patiently building relationships with Congressional representatives and their staff.

Since the Paris Climate Conference, CCLers have been working with others to create momentum for global carbon pricing. With Mark Reynolds’s promise at the conference that Congress will pass a carbon fee and dividend bill by the end of 2017, CCL is moving into a critical phase of activity.

Locally, Yolo CCL would like to see a student chapter established at UC Davis, and a first meeting was held this past spring.

See http://citizensclimatelobby.org/carbon-fee-and-dividend/ for more about the basics of carbon fee and dividend.

See http://citizensclimatelobby.org/remi-report/ for more on the REMI study.

For more information or if you would like to help the Yolo CCL chapter in these efforts, contact our co-chairs, Rob Beggs (beggsra@gmail.com) or Beth Robbins (robbinse13@gmail.com), or the author, Stu Pettygrove (gspettygrove@ucdavis.edu).