Local advocacy group urges passage of bill to reduce emissions

Members of the Citizen's Climate Lobby's San Diego North chapter visited Washington, D.C., to promote environmental legislation.
Members of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby’s San Diego North chapter visited Washington, D.C., to promote environmental legislation.

Furthering its mission of “creating the political will for a livable world,” local members of the nonprofit Citizens’ Climate Lobby recently visited Capitol Hill in support of a bill that would add a fee for fossil fuel usage with the goal of reducing emissions.

The trip took place during the advocacy group’s November Lobby Day from Nov. 11-12, when members from chapters all over the country meet with congressional leaders to urge them to take action against climate change. One of the leaders of the advocacy group’s San Diego North chapter, Judy Berlfein, said it’s also part of the its goal of “creating the political will for a livable world.”

“The livable world part really includes working with people of all political persuasions,” said Berlfein, an Encinitas resident who joined the group 10 years ago with her husband.

The bill, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Theodore Deutch, D-Fla., in January. It has not yet received a committee hearing. To date, 72 Democrats and one Republican have signed on as co-sponsors. If it advances beyond the House, it would face an uncertain future in the Republican-led Senate, where many bills championed mostly by Democrats have stalled.

“Do I think it’s going to pass tomorrow? No,” Berlfein said. “Do I think it’s going to pass eventually? Yes. Would I like to see more Republican support? Yes.”

During the visit, she met with several members of California’s congressional delegation, including U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, whose district includes North County. On Nov. 20, Levin announced that a different piece of environmental legislation, the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act, was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee. The bill would help spur the development of wind, solar and geothermal energy on public lands.

“I’m proud that this bipartisan legislation passed through committee with a diverse coalition that includes 39 co-sponsors – both Republicans and Democrats – as well as conservation groups, sportsmen, and renewable energy leaders,” Levin said in a statement.

Berlfein also emphasized the need for bipartisan solutions. She said Citizens’ Climate Lobby members will continue to work toward finding common ground with people all over the country, who have a wide array of opinions on climate change, how to address it or whether it even exists. In public discourse, the politics of climate change often receive more attention than its scientific basis.

“It’s so common to get those two things muddled together so much, you don’t even know what you’re talking about,” Berlfein added.

She added that the group works “really, really hard to build bridges and be understanding and respectful of where everyone’s coming from.”

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s San Diego North chapter meets the second Saturday of every month at 9:30 a.m. For more information, email sandiegonorth@citizensclimatelobby.org.