Colorado CCL chapter honors climate hero Ed Perlmutter, bids farewell

(Rep. Ed Perlmutter and members of Golden Chapter of CCL.)

Colorado CCL chapter honors climate hero Ed Perlmutter, bids farewell 

By the Golden Chapter of CCL 

Ed Perlmutter has been a U.S. Representative for 16 years — long enough to remember vividly the contentious House passage of carbon cap-and-trade legislation in 2009 and its disappointing Senate defeat the next year. When we first met Ed in 2014, lessons from that experience were fresh in his mind, especially the importance of public education and public support for any climate bill. “I need to know that people care,” he said. 

We took his advice. For the next eight years, we collected comments about climate change from his constituents in Colorado’s District 7, primarily through CCL tables at events such as Lakewood Cider Days, the Jefferson County Fair, and Evergreen’s Earth Day celebration: hundreds and hundreds of comments. We gave new batches to Ed or his aides at each of our meetings. We presented a comprehensive list to him on a scroll. We mapped the location of each commenter within his district — a format he found particularly impactful. We also lobbied for specific CCL asks through write-in and call-in campaigns. And we kept educating Ed and his staff about the benefits of the fee-and-dividend approach and the growing support for it from economists, politicians, business owners, and other leaders. 

Colorado CCL Chapter Honors Climate Hero Ed Perlmutter, Bids Farewell

(Rep. Ed Perlmutter enjoying artwork with CCL member MaryAnn Larsen.)

Ed’s backing of CCL priorities grew in tandem with our efforts. He signed letters to the administration advocating for stronger environmental and climate policies. He became an early member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, bringing a Republican from Illinois with him. After CCL’s top priority — the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act — was introduced, he quickly became a co-sponsor. He spoke passionately in the House about the importance of climate science. He supported the Build Back Better bill. He introduced bills on climate-related topics, including wildfire mitigation and energy efficiency in buildings. He maintained steadfast support for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. And all along, he and his amazing staff found time to listen to our concerns, provide sage advice, and sustain a dialogue based on common sense and intelligent optimism. 

One CCLer, Jarett, Zuboy has served as the Golden chapter’s liaison to Ed Perlmutter since 2014. 

“I signed up because there was a need, not because I was a savvy political operative,” he remembers. “I couldn’t envision how rewarding it would be to build long-term relationships with our representative and his staff. But we kept showing up—a core group from our chapter along with some new folks most times—to district open houses, Ed’s Government in the Grocery, Lobby Day meetings, and extra meetings with staff whenever we had something to discuss. By building trust over time, we could have increasingly deep and productive conversations. If we came to Ed and his staff with an idea, they listened because they knew it would be thoughtful and we’d have a respectful conversation. At the same time, we discovered opportunities to contribute toward their priorities, as when our chapter leader, Phil Nelson, served on a panel discussing Ed’s Green Neighborhoods Act. I’m still no savvy political operative, but this experience showed me what’s possible when you put in the time to build rapport.” 

Ed decided not to run for reelection in 2022. On July 16, nine members of our chapter visited his Lakewood office to pay tribute to him and his staff. After expressing our appreciation for the long-time support, we presented him with two fitting mementos: framed versions of “There is No Planet B” and other constituent comments produced by a local artist and a word cloud based on constituent comments. Ed was visibly moved by the gifts and encouraged us to continue our efforts. 

Colorado CCL Chapter Honors Climate Hero Ed Perlmutter, Bids Farewell

(Art work “There is no Planet B” based on “constituent comments” from residents of Congressional District Seven.)

He also imparted final words of wisdom. He first recounted his recent Congressional trip to Yosemite National Park, where he learned about the impacts of climate change, including wildfire damage, degraded forests, and reduced water flows. Then he suggested we link the beauty of the newly redrawn District 7 — which encompasses some of Colorado’s most renowned alpine areas — with the need to protect it. “The new 7th District is the prettiest district in America,” he said, noting that we can expand our message into its mountain communities. We mentioned CCL’s Chaffee County Chapter in the new district and our intention to combine forces with them. 

Colorado CCL Chapter Honors Climate Hero Ed Perlmutter, Bids Farewell

(Word cloud embedded within outline of Colorado Congressional District Seven with its 2012-2022 boundaries.)

Ed wrapped up with more words of encouragement in his uniquely upbeat style, and we parted with mutual gratitude and respect. We learned a lot during eight years of collaboration with him, and we look forward to applying those lessons to climate policy efforts in 2023 and beyond. Whoever represents us next, we will remember the foundation of our successful relationship with Ed, based on his simple but powerful advice: “I need to know that people care.”