Trip to Washington builds business alliances on climate change

Trip to Washington builds business alliances on climate change

By Jennifer Wood

“Nice to meet you, I’m with the Sacramento Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby and I coordinate CCL chapters in the Central Valley and the Sierras, we lobby Congress for national climate solutions.”

That’s me on the plane to Washington, D.C, practicing my greeting to my fellow 360 attendees of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce Capitol-to-Capitol (Cap-to-Cap) advocacy trip last month. This is the largest group of local Chambers of Commerce in the country to visit Capitol Hill all at once. I was on the Air Quality Team, as a representative of the Sacramento CCL chapter.

Bera and Wood

Jennifer Wood with Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA).

Our team advocated for continued EPA funding and incentives for our local Air Quality Districts, as well as federal support for desperately needed thinning projects in the forests of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Air quality has a direct impact on our health and our economy, and the Sacramento region has seen improvements in air quality alongside economic development. Air quality improvements are inextricably entwined with, and assisted by, climate and clean energy solutions.

This is the second year our chapter has been a member of both the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Environmental Council of Sacramento as we seek to engage our local community in the conversation about national climate policy. Both of these nonpartisan organizations are a perfect fit for CCL engagement. While our chapter focuses on engaging community support for a national carbon fee and dividend, we also are passionate about creating a healthy local environment and vibrant economy.

The Sacramento metropolitan area is surrounded by both wild and working landscapes to the north, south, and east in the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains. Our region, therefore, is a microcosm of the red-blue/rural-urban divide we see in the country as a whole. A central message that the Cap-to-Cap delegation brought to Congress is our pride in this partnership among businesses, governments, academic institutions, and community.

In our Air Quality Team meeting on the Hill, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA06) pointed out that urban areas must recognize that we depend on the health of the watersheds and abundance of products from our rural neighbors, and that we owe it to those communities to help them in return. We reinforced this sentiment with other congressional meetings, as well as executive branch agency staff.

We heard from Amy Walter, NPR commentator with the Cook Political Report, that the results of the election are a reflection of people’s desire, especially among young people, to disrupt ideological rigidity. At our luncheon on the Hill the next day, Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Sacramento native, reminded us that democracy requires an open and civil discourse to explore paths to solutions. These ideas perfectly embody the core values and culture of CCL.

During the Cap-to-Cap trip, our own Business Climate Leaders organization helped sponsor a Business Climate and Clean Energy Advocacy Day for businesses to lobby for national climate and clean energy policy. They heard from the R Street Institute, the conservative Climate Leadership Council, and CCL Legislative Director Danny Richter. Richard Eidlin, co-founder of the American Sustainable Business Council, reached out to the Metro Chamber of Commerce about Cap-to-Cap attendees joining their advocacy day. Two members of the Cap-to Cap trip attended their Monday evening reception.

Additionally, Richard and Danny gave a briefing for 10 Cap-to-Cap attendees, including several members of our Air Quality Team. The story that Richard and Danny related left them wanting more, and the conversation will continue as I build on these new relationships back at home.

It was personally gratifying that my mother traveled with me to sightsee and visit family in D.C and to march with me and other CCLers in the People’s Climate March!

After numerous revisions, I finally came up with the perfect greeting: My name is Jennifer Wood with the Sacramento Chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby. We bring Republicans and Democrats together to talk about clean energy and climate solutions, and we lobby Congress for national legislation. What do you think about clean energy and the climate?

Jennifer Wood is a group leader for the Sacramento chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Steve Valk
Steve Valk is Communications Coordinator for Citizens' Climate Lobby. Steve joined the CCL staff in 2009 after a 30-year career with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter at @valklimate.