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A Trip to Capitol Hill — A Volunteer Lobbyist Finds Hope

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Lobbying in DC 2016 Jerry Lee Miller, Carson Middleton (legislative director to Joe Pitts), Elke Arnesen, and Brandi Snyder

This is a little reminder of your importance.

Last week I was in Washington, D.C., lobbying for a brilliant piece of legislation known as the Carbon Fee and Dividend (CFD). It was weird.

I had gone twice before that for the same purpose. The Congressional offices – all of the offices – were normally if not always inviting and kind to the members of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Over time, we saw the questions posed in meetings evolve from “why do we need carbon pricing?” to “okay, so how exactly do the border adjustments work?” There’s an active conversation in which more and more constituents and elected officials are participating. And that conversation is about climate solutions.

I was hoping for the same trend when I returned, especially for reassurance in these politically uncertain times. I got something a little different.

You see, D.C. is almost on hold. Staffers in those offices, as I was told in one meeting, aren’t handing anything into their bosses until more solid groundwork is down; the lunch tables in the underground cafeterias were abuzz with postulation; and the phrase used in nearly every conversation was “up in the air.”
Frankly, I was a bit down. But then I had a meeting with the legislative assistant to a Representative of a district in Florida. She outlined the facts: times are uncertain, the POTUS is unpredictable, and
elected officials will always do what their constituents want if for nothing else but job safety. She said as long as there’s the constituent will, climate action will happen.

That’s so cool. I hope you take away from this a renewed sense of power. Your power. The power to make a difference.

Have a great week and don’t be trashy.

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Elke Arnesen

Author: Elke Arnesen

Elke Arnesen is an 18-year-old gap year student interning with Peterson Toscano. She's planning on studying environmental policy in college next year but for now is gaining support for carbon pricing in her free time.

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