Illinois citizen lobbyists press for bold climate action in Washington

I plan to be in Washington, D.C., this week with more than 30 other Illinois residents and about 1,000 people from all 50 states heading to Capitol Hill for hundreds of climate-focused meetings with lawmakers. We will discuss the pressing need to reduce America’s carbon pollution, focusing on legislative solutions that we hope to see Congress support and ultimately pass into law.

Each of us is committed to solving the climate crisis, which seems to get worse every time I check social media, pick up a newspaper or turn on the radio. Illinois residents have seen firsthand the negative effects of climate change: record-low Lake Michigan ice cover this past winter and record low snow cover. Last month, Illinois scientists noted that certain disease-carrying ticks are now migrating into our area because of the milder winters and earlier spring warming.

I’m not a paid lobbyist and neither are people like me from Chicago, Naperville, Lake Zurich and elsewhere in Illinois. We’re regular folks from all walks of life who will be on Capitol Hill to address the effects of climate change — one meeting and one conversation at a time.

Shyia Whiting of Markham, an Illinois State University junior who will join us, said she wants to “put action” into her climate concerns by speaking with “the people who have the power to shift the way we protect our climate.”

People walk outside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D. C. Citizen lobbyists from Illinois and across the country are in Washington this week to urge congressional action on climate issues. Associated Press File Photo

Another student making the trip, Cristina Mac Cormac, a Penn State University sophomore from Lake Zurich, said she is hoping to get “more youth involved in the fight to pass environmental policy.” She relishes the opportunity to make “a direct impact in this fight.”

A recent CBS News poll showed that 70% of participants favored the U.S. taking steps to try to reduce climate change, yet many of our elected officials are not moving fast enough to implement solutions to curb the carbon pollution damaging our environment. That’s why we are taking a break from our normal routines and heading to Washington this week for Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s summer conference, which includes a full day of meetings with our elected officials on Capitol Hill to push for bold climate action.

For years, I and others like me have advocated for congressional action to put a price on carbon pollution, and we will continue to do so. That’s because we know this is the single best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help reduce America's carbon pollution fast — as much as 50% by the end of this decade.

Besides that, while in Washington we will ask our Congressional representatives to pass legislation that can speed up the permitting of new clean energy infrastructure and enhance electricity grid resiliency. Last year, lawmakers passed some permitting reform measures, but it’s just a small piece of what is needed. We still need to boost transmission projects and improve early community involvement. The BIG WIRES Act, for example, which was introduced in the Senate and House last fall, will help ensure that America has a reliable, resilient grid that can provide affordable, clean electricity.

In recent months, as part of a CCL initiative, volunteers like me have been tallying up our climate conversations. Since April, we’ve had more than 30,000 conversations all across the country to discuss the climate crisis with our families and friends, with people at work and with our neighbors.

Having regular conversations with Republican and Democratic representatives in Congress is vital to enacting the bold policy solutions needed to reduce climate pollution and fast-track a clean-energy future that benefits all.

Joe Tedino, a Chicago communications consultant, is a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.