A group of advocates from the West LA/Santa Monica chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) participated in a nationwide virtual lobbying push for climate legislation earlier this week. These lobby meetings aim to build more support in Congress for a price on carbon emissions, which experts say is a crucial policy to fight climate change.

Monday, March 22 was the kickoff for CCL volunteers across the country to hold more than 400 virtual meetings with both U.S. House and Senate Offices, including ten volunteers from Los Angeles who met with the staff for Congressmen Ted Lieu.

“This year there’s a lot of momentum for climate action, and there is broad support for putting a price on carbon emissions,” said Barry Engelman, a local CCL volunteer participating in the lobbying. Engelman, a retired financial planner with Ameriprise Financial, has served on the Santa Monica Commission for the Senior Community and has been a member of CCL since 2015. “I’ve been excited to see business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce talking more about the need to reduce emissions, as well as more of our elected officials.”

So far in 2021, people like Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Republican Senator Mitt Romney, and Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse all have spoken up about the need for carbon pricing. Here in LA, endorsers of carbon pricing include the Santa Monica City Council and the Santa Monica Democratic Club, the Board of Trustees of Santa Monica College, Superintendent/President of the Santa Monica Community College District Kathryn Jeffery, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, State Senator Ben Allen and the LA County Board of Supervisors.

This lobbying push comes just days after high-ranking Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a carbon pricing bill of his own. Several of his Senate colleagues (Sens. Whitehouse, Schatz, Coons, and Feinstein) all backed carbon pricing bills in the 116th Congress and are expected to do so again.

Also in the last Congress, Rep. Ted Lieu was a cosponsor of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, a carbon pricing bill in the House with the backing of 85 other members. This legislation is expected to be reintroduced into the House soon.

“Here in Los Angeles, we’re still very concerned about climate change, even during this pandemic and other issues our country is grappling with,” said Kathy Seal, Group Leader of the West-LA CCL Chapter. “We’re ready for Congress to take action by pricing carbon emissions, and we’re working to make that happen.”

They’re not alone in this sentiment. Polling from Yale and George Mason Universities, conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, confirms that Americans’ understanding of climate change and concern about it remain at record highs. To learn more, visit citizensclimatelobby.org.

Submitted by Katie Crockford