Carbon tax supporters lobby the old school way

Jan 21, 2014

Citizens Climate Lobby organizer Lynate Pettengill encourages people to get involved in its lobbying efforts at a informational meeting in Columbia.
Credit Gary Grigsby / KBIA News

The Washington D.C based Citizens Climate Lobby says if you want to take action on climate change one simple step you can take is to contact your members of Congress and ask them to support the Climate Change Act.

The bill would tax carbon.  For example, as part of the plan you would pay more federal tax per gallon at the pump for gas.  But you get it back in the form of a refund.  Its supporters say if fossil fuels lose their competitive price advantage it will stimulate more investment in clean energy technologies and give businesses incentives to increase efficiency.  Congress isn't exactly sold on the idea.  But if you get involved with the Citizens Climate Lobby chapter in mid-Missouri, you will be asked to make those politicians take notice.  

Lynate Pettengill is the Director of Field Development for the Citizens Climate Lobby or CCL.  "We need a large solution.  So what I am going to be talking about is a national solution," said Pettengill to about 20 people in Columbia a couple of months back who had expressed interest in getting involved with the group.

To get a carbon tax in place Pettengill told her audience it would take folks like them to begin hammering away at their members of Congress, in person if possible.  And Pettengill was going to show them how to do it.  She broke everyone in small groups and had each person read talking points.  You might call it Lobbying 101.  What to say about the carbon tax when meeting with Congress member Hartzler at her Columbia office or with Senator Blunt at a neighborhood forum in Jefferson City.  There was also a bit of role playing where the participants learned how to express gratitude to a lawmaker. 

During  a question and answer session one attendee talked about efforts already taking place in mid-Missouri to address climate change and wondered if CCL might collaborate with these existing groups.  Pettengill responded by saying, "Given the scope of the problem, the initiatives you are talking about are great supplemental.  But they are not going to turn this ship around."  It is obvious CCL is not a group that wants to discuss ways individuals can cut down on their carbon foot print.  Marie Steinwachs was at the meeting and said she is fine with that.  "What I liked was the very clear focus.  But they also have a mission."  That's why George Laur said he got involved.  He is now the group leader for the CCL chapter in Columbia and Jefferson City.  He said, "Most politicians in Missouri are in the climate denial crowd.  But as events happen, things can change very quickly as with Hurricane Sandy or what just happened in the Phillipines." 

The CCL's actions are not limited to face to face visits with lawmakers.  Writing letters to the editor is important too.  That and other old school stuff.

After this meeting took place the New York Times reported in a front page story that nearly 30 of America's largest corporations, including the five largest oil companies, are incorporating a carbon tax into their long-term strategic planning.  The corporations think a carbon tax is coming at some point and they are preparing for it.  This news has to make the Climate Change Lobby happy.