Don Rogers: Fishing for a big catch
April 19, 2018
Give the North Tahoe chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby credit for polite perseverance.
They want Tom McClintock, who represents this region in Congress, to join the fast-growing Climate Solutions Caucus.
Knowing the Roseville Republican's take on the subject, you'd say fat chance and leave it at that.
"Many people think Republicans would never join," Deirdre Henderson says patiently and with a trace of a smile. "But we've seen a real change in our discussions."
Conversations with politicians have turned more toward finding solutions, she says, despite the hot air still billowing over whether global warming is real or a consequence of humans, as with pollution more obvious than relying on what 97 percent of climate scientists say.
She offers up the caucus as a sign. Two south Florida congressmen, one a Republican and the other a Democrat, formed the caucus in 2016. Already membership has blossomed to 72, half of 'em Republicans. The caucus is set up like Noah's ark — Republicans and Democrats pair up to get in, two by two.
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Naturally, the sales pitch is a bit more challenging with the Republicans. But Rep. Darrell Issa, not the first guy you'd think of as a member, joined about a year ago. The more-hardcore environmentalists might be suspicious or even aghast at someone they readily characterize as a climate change denier in the caucus's midst.
But Henderson seems unperturbed. The caucus, like the Citizens Climate Lobby, is about bringing together many points of view. If solutions emerge, they'll come from a wide meeting of the minds, and Issa appears serious about the issue. Young Republicans certainly are.
The Citizens Climate Lobby began in 2007 with the aim of opening branches of citizen volunteers in every congressional district.
The tenets are interesting, in essence to be like water: You know, wearing down rock patiently, persistently, never sharp, always present, ever flowing.
We're each droplets, we citizens. We do have power. There's plenty of reason for optimism. We can focus in nonpartisan solutions, do our research, develop friendly and respectful relationships with legislators who may not agree with us.
This might be a little Zen for the Resisters who have risen with the president's election, wearing funny hats, holding signs with pointed messages, chanting uncompromising slogans, ready and maybe a bit eager for confrontation.
Somehow, I don't envision Citizens Climate Lobby members shouting down their congressional representatives at town hall meetings.
Instead they seek to engage leaders, to be unfailingly respectful as they seek to build relationships with them.
For the North Tahoe branch, which began about a year ago, they have a worthy challenge in McClintock. He understands climate change as something Jurassic, not human-induced. World temperatures ran hotter as well as colder long before SUVs, he likes to joke.
He once read aloud a newspaper report on the warm arctic and deep concern about the shrinking polar ice cap during a hearing with an Obama administration adviser testifying.
The punch line was the story ran in The Washington Post in 1922. Har. Har.
His statement when contacted about the local Citizens Climate Lobby suggesting he join the Climate Solutions Caucus: "The principal legislative objectives of the Climate Solutions Caucus are to dramatically increase energy prices and utility bills through so-called carbon taxes and to oppose American energy independence by blocking development of America's vast petroleum resources. I have no intention of increasing the financial burdens on California families, who are already struggling to cope with among the highest gasoline and electricity prices in the country."
Issa might dispute him on that one, and Henderson has research including from Regional Economic Models Inc. showing the economic impact down to each census district of her group's proposal for a carbon fee.
In short, the proposal shows an economic boost over the next 20 years if implemented, according to this nonpartisan model anyway. The fee would be revenue neutral and hews to market forces, Henderson says.
While it looks a little complicated to me, she says it factors in the full cost of carbon pollution, which hasn't been accounted for in our estimations of how much energy really costs.
McClintock is tougher to convince than me, no question. Granite even.
Still, I wouldn't bet against Henderson and the Citizens Climate Lobby. The congressman might not want to, either.
Granite is no match for water, given time.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Truckee Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.