Above, DFW Citizens' Climate Lobby activists Swetha Kannan and Shawn Reeder along with Ricky Bradley of Houston will be among 500 CCL volunteers talking with Congress members and staff on June 24 to propose a carbon tax on the fossil fuel industry. 

June 23, 2014

A group of North Texans are among the more than 500 activists lobbying Congress this week for a carbon tax on the fossil fuel industry in Washington, DC as part of the 5th Annual Citizens' Climate Lobby Conference

The five volunteer lobbyists from Dallas-Fort Worth are from the Dallas Chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby, a national grassroots organization dedicated to raising awareness about climate change. 

According to Ricky Bradley, the Houston-based regional coordinator for the Third Coast region of CCL, which includes Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, the congressional meetings are scheduled on the heels of a report released by Regional Economic Models, Inc

“The report shows that if we were to refund a carbon tax, not only would it not have an negative impact on the economy, it would have benefit,” said Bradley.

CCL proposes that the carbon tax start at $15 per ton of CO2 emissions and increase by $10 per ton per year for 10 years. The money would be collected at the point of extraction – whether out of the ground or from a mine or at a port of entry – and then be distributed to American households

The REMI study finds that a steadily increasing carbon tax would create jobs, grow the economy, save lives and make Americans richer while reducing CO2 emissions to 50 percent of 1990 levels by 2035. 

Bradley said despite the good report from REMI, the Texas volunteers are prepared for pushback from their notoriously conservative members of Congress. Their stops include meetings with the offices of Pete Sessions, John Cornyn and “Smokey" Joe Barton.

“We tailor our message based on the audience,” said Bradley. “If we’re speaking with conservative members of Congress, we talk about what’s important to them: the economy, competition, a level playing field.”

Shawn Reeder, the leader of the Dallas chapter of CCL, agrees that common ground can be found between the two parties on the issue. 

“The meetings will be the beginning of a dialogue,” said Reeder. “I don’t expect to change the mind of someone who’s a climate denier but there’s a lot of things we can call success.”

Above, The Texas delegation of Citizens' Climate Lobby who went to Washington, DC, in 2013. Below, Dallas CCL leader Shawn Reeder with his converted electric car at his home in Grand Prairie with rain barrel and solar panels. 

The mechanical engineer from Grand Prairie said he’s always been interested in renewable energy. 

“I’m not the type who likes to protest but I was looking for a bigger way to make an impact beyond my own family,” said Reeder of his alliance with CCL.

As he learned more about climate change, he said he and his wife began making changes in their home to reduce their carbon footprint such as switching to CFL bulbs, composting and installing rain barrels and solar panels. A few years ago, Reeder even converted his 1986 Pontiac into an electric car.  

“At the time, you couldn’t buy a commercial all-electric car. Now if I was do it all over again, I would probably just buy one,” joked Reeder.

Last year, at Earth Day Dallas, he stopped by the CCL booth, met volunteers and found a common bond. 

He joined up and this year at Earth Day Texas manned the CCL booth with other volunteers, including Swetha Kannan, who is also in DC this week at her own expense as a CCL lobbyist.

Kannan said this will be her second time in Washington to lobby as a volunteer. Last year, she spoke to congressional offices after participating in the 300-mile Climate Ride.

Swetha Kannan lobbied Congress last year following the Climate Ride.

“The first time I [lobbied], I was very nervous.I had no experience and I wasn’t prepared,” said Kannan, a Texas Instruments engineer. “This time I have more facts. I have confidence this solution [carbon tax] will solve the problem.”

Kannan said they are asking folks from North Texas to show their support by calling their representatives this week to let them know climate change is an important issue to them as the volunteers head into their meetings.

“You may not support the carbon tax or maybe you don’t know what the solution is, but we’re meeting members of Congress on June 24. We’re asking people to call [this week]. This will be great support for us.”

Julie Thibodeaux is the Managing Editor for Green Source DFW. Previously, she worked as an editor and writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Contact her at Julie@greensourcedfw.org.

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