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Lobbying for the Environment: How You Can Take Legislative Action

I've been shlepping canvas bags to the supermarket for over a decade. My house doesn't have a single "old-fashioned" lightbulb. I drive a hyrbid. Yet, the Earth is still warming. In fact, twelve of the last thirteen years were the … Read More

By / April 21, 2008

I've been shlepping canvas bags to the supermarket for over a decade. My house doesn't have a single "old-fashioned" lightbulb. I drive a hyrbid. Yet, the Earth is still warming. In fact, twelve of the last thirteen years were the warmest in recorded history. And last year, scientists from 130 countries declared with 100% certainty that climate change was occurring – and with 90% certainty that human beings are causing it.

Truth be told, the 50 lightbulbs in my house are not going to singlehandedly prevent US carbon dioxide emissions from exceeding 450 parts per million by mid-century. Yet, thanks to a little-known provision in the U.S. energy bill (HR 6), which was signed into law this December, incandescent lightbulbs will be but a dim memory by 2012. And the collective impact of 50 lightbulbs in one-hundred million households across the United States just might keep national emissions in check.

Unfortunately, too many of our political leaders lack the courage to acknowledge the need for aggressive action. No one wants to be held responsible for voting for legislation that may increase electric prices in their District or make it more expensive for their constituents to continue fueling their SUVs.

Our Senators don't know we're willing to accept these comparatively minor inconveniences, and they will never know unless we tell them. That's my job as COEJL's Climate and Energy Program Coordinator. Each week, I visit members of Congress and tell them the Jewish community supports – even demands – strong national legislation to cap U.S. emissions. I tell them this desire is grounded in ancient texts, which establish our sacred duty to "repair the world." And I tell them our profound concern for U.S. energy security strengthens our resolve. But this message is more meaningful when it comes from you. Here are a few steps to begin with:

  • A simple call to your member of Congress is an important first step. Ask to speak to the legislative assistant who works on climate and energy policy. Tell him or her that you are a constituent – and that you support a firm cap on U.S. emissions. Better yet, ask to schedule a visit (either with the Member himself or his legislative aid) – either in Washington, D.C. or at home in your District.
  • Sign up to receive monthly updates about COEJL's education, action, and advocacy campaigns.
  • To learn more about how to advocate for effective climate legislation, visit the COEJL website, we're I've prepared simple talking points on the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.

I don't doubt the importance of individual action. If we all justify our own bad environmental decisions because of our individual inconsequence, the climate crisis will be insurmountable. Yet, climate change is much larger than you or I, and it can only truly be tackled with larger changes – changes that are mandated by national legislation.

This past December, the Environment and Public Works committee voted to do just that. On December 5, America's Climate Security Act (S 2191) was voted out of committee and it will be considered by the full Senate this June. Call your Senator today and urge her to vote for the bill when it comes up for a vote. As Al Gore recently declared, "It's one thing to change a lightbulb. It's another to change the law."

To learn more about my thoughts on national climate and energy legislation, visit the COEJL blog at www.coejlblog.blog.com

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