Did you know that 96% of D.C. residents voted for a pro-climate administration last November? A sea of support for climate action encircles the industry-sponsored deniers in the White House and Congress. Now these residents are taking the movement to City Council to pass the #1 climate policy: a price on carbon, right here in the nation’s Capitol. So take heart and read on, fellow climateers. The “Put a Price on It DC” campaign to win a local carbon fee and rebate is hitting its stride.
Strong City-Wide Coalition
Our diverse, multi-sector, city-wide coalition is now more than 20 organizations strong, and we have begun positive conversations with City Council members and key agency leads. Member groups signed on to the coalition’s framework principles and policy approach include: Americans for Transit, Black Millennials for Flint, Interfaith Power & Light (DC MD NoVA), Citizens’ Climate Lobby DC Chapter, DC Catholic Conference, DC Divest, DC Environmental Network, DC Fiscal Policy Institute, Moms Clean Air Force, ONE DC, Organic Consumers Association, SEIU 32BJ, Sierra Club, U.S. Climate Plan, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and Working Families Party.
Leadership from the Grassroots
With strong backing from the city’s leading organizations, our organizing team has launched a robust public engagement campaign to educate and involve community members in the policy process. To lead this effort we have welcomed Jeremiah Lowery, a lifelong local environmental justice activist born and raised in Ward 8. Jeremiah and Rachel Martin–our fantastic intern and corporate accountability advocate–are spearheading three exciting outreach projects for the campaign:
1. ANC, Civic/Citizen Associations, and Coalitions: Via email, phone, and paper mail, we have personally reached out to all 40 elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissions (ANCs) and 60 Civic and Citizen Associations. In just the last two weeks, our team has presented to ANCs in Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5; have upcoming presentations in Wards 4, 6, 7, and 8; and initiated even deeper outreach to Wards 7 and 8 through community-based health organizations like the Health Alliance Network. The Asthma Coalition and the Fair Budget Coalition have also hosted us for campaign presentations and responded favorably to the concept. One-on-one meetings to introduce the campaign, solicit feedback, and invite participation are ongoing with stakeholders across the city.
2. Tenants’ Rights Groups: We have sent formal paper mail invitations to personally invite all tenants’ rights advocates to two informational public meetings in February, and more than 30 advocates have RSVP’d. We are looking forward to rich conversations about the intersections of environmental, social, and economic justice in the District. For example, access to housing is a major issue in DC, and the carbon rebate has great potential to help residents stay in their homes.
3. Small Business Outreach: Jeremiah, Rachel, and a crew of our “rockstar” volunteers are leading a twice-weekly Ward-by-Ward canvass to earn the support of local businesses. We have created a fact sheet to ensure business owners know of the city’s many renewable energy and energy efficiency programs available to avoid costly pollution.
Process: Getting it Right
We are grateful for the skillful facilitation of Justin Wright and Lesley Spencer of Active Neutrals, who dedicated extensive pro-bono support to the campaign in late 2016 and have now been contracted to lead our policy development process. Their communications, structure, and procedural expertise is ensuring a uniquely transparent, inclusive, and expedient collaboration amongst existing and prospective coalition members. Four three-hour-long policy design meetings are scheduled with nearly a dozen coalition members between now and early April, which we expect will result in bill language ready for introduction to the Council. Contact Camila with any questions about the detailed process structure.
A Boost from Hollywood
The November release of the “Priceless” episode of the latest Years of Living Dangerously series built buzz about carbon pricing in DC. The episode features young #PutAPriceOnIt advocates (like yours truly) in a quest for economic climate justice, from Texas to British Columbia. In November, the faith and social justice magazine Sojourners and Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) co-hosted a Priceless screening to publicly introduce the DC campaign. CCAN also joined the local CCL chapter and Greendrinks DC to co-host a standing room only Years episode screening at El Tio last year, recently followed by a packed screening and conversation at Potter’s House hosted by IPL’s Catherine Goggins. Energy for local climate leadership has grown tremendously since the election and we are experiencing exponential growth in volunteer interest.
Macroeconomic Study in the Works
CCAN’s policy director James McGarry is overseeing a macroeconomic study on the DC carbon fee that will become a primary education and lobbying tool for the campaign. We have contracted with the Center for Climate Strategies to lead this project. The Center is collecting input from a wide array of coalition partners and key stakeholders in the city, and will author a report summarizing data generated from original REMI modeling for a variety of policy scenarios.
Congress Won’t Stop Us
The new federal administration and Congress will not slow our roll. DC has passed many progressive policies – paid family leave and $15 minimum wage among the latest – without meddling from Congress. In fact, Congress has not wholly blocked a DC law since 1991. If we do run into hurdles after passing the City Council, it will present a high-profile opportunity to highlight local climate and economic justice leadership in the face of a Trump presidency, elevating the campaign to national importance.
People’s Climate March (April 29) + Earth Day (April 22)
National attention will likely focus on the campaign long before we encounter Congress, however. Keep your eye out for a spring campaign launch around Earth Day and the Scientists’ March on April 22. We’ve got teach-in and reception plans in the works!
Camila and Jeremiah are also representing CCAN and the Put a Price on It DC campaign as members of the steering committee for the People’s Climate Mobilization, April 29 in DC. The march is predicted to attract 200,000 people from the DMV and across the nation. As was the case for the original PCM in New York City, the event will be designed to catalyze local climate leadership–we look forward to sparking the City Council to action with thousands of activists demanding leadership at the Wilson Building.
Thank you for helping this exciting campaign build momentum! Sign up via this petition to track our progress, and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved–we need all hands on deck to win.