The Citizen’s Climate Lobby and its local Chaffee County chapter are focused on getting national legislation passed for a carbon fee and dividend. 

Under such legislation, a carbon fee would be charged at the source of carbon, like coal plants and oil wells, and the money collected would then be equally distributed to Americans.

“The quickest way to make people use less of something is to make it more expensive,” said Sandy Long, group leader of the Chaffee County Citizen’s Climate Lobby. She added that giving people money back would offset some of the increased costs while some low income people would actually make money. 

Currently, there are bills in both the house of representatives and the senate concerning the carbon tax and dividend. 

The House Bill is H.R. 763 and the Senate Bill is S.3791.

Long, who used to be a member of the Dallas chapter the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, has owned land in Chaffee County since 1999 and started the local chapter after she retired. 

She said she started the Chaffee County chapter in the spring and it had its first training in August. The local chapter currently has 14 members. 

“The main purpose is building a political will for a liveable planet,” Long said about the lobby. The non-partisan, non-profit group has 18 chapters in Colorado, more than 400 chapters in the country and approximately 190,000 volunteers, mostly in the United States.

Some of the levers of political will that it uses, Long said, include lobbying Congress, publishing letters to the editor, grass roots outreach like speaking to groups, and also grass talks where the group talks with business leaders to try and convince them to endorse the bill. 

“The main thing you want to do when you lobby Congress is you have to prove to them people care about this,” Long said. 

Long said the bills have received some bipartisan support and that the country needs more of a bipartisan strategy like this. She said the proposed legislation is acceptable to conservatives because it doesn’t grow the size of the government. 

It also does not penalize those that are less advantaged, she said, which allays concerns of liberals.

With President-elect Joe Biden signaling he will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement once in office, Long said this legislation could help the U.S. meet those targets. 

“A carbon dividend would help reach that,” Long said. “If we do something nationally like this, it would set up mechanisms to meet those targets.”

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