Young CCLers Push Carbon Pricing in the Reconciliation Package
By: Alex Lei
While Senators on Capitol Hill negotiate the Democrats’ reconciliation package, young CCLers are seizing the opportunity to push Congress to add carbon pricing to the legislation.
The Biden administration’s Build Back Better Agenda is an extensive package that includes an expansion of Medicare, an extension of the child tax credit, cuts to prescription drug costs, and significantly, provisions to fight climate change. How are youth using this as an opening to get carbon pricing passed? Through the Price Carbon NOW! Challenge that began on September 22nd of this year to alert Congress to the need for carbon pricing in the reconciliation bill.
In an email announcing this challenge, organizer Sharon Bagatell emphasized that “NOW is the time” for climate action, calling on youth in CCL to spread the word about carbon pricing to friends, classmates, and student organizations. Bagatell encouraged action to overcome climate anxiety, saying that in CCL “we say that ‘action is an antidote to despair.’”
The Price Carbon NOW! Challenge asks CCL volunteers 18 and younger to win 500 Price Carbon NOW! Points through various means of activism. The three primary ways youth can act are through: tools on CCL’s website, text/phone banking, and Twitter campaigns.
Participants must fill out this form before they begin any outreach. Points are determined by completing various actions, from phone banking to emailing. The top three scorers will receive prizes and all volunteers will receive community service hours. The initiative’s progress is tracked in a shared spreadsheet to motivate young people to compete with others and achieve the ultimate task of promoting carbon pricing.
Volunteers participating in this challenge can email their Senators and the President via two tools provided on CCL’s website.
The first tool (above, left) is for the volunteer’s Senators. The second tool (above, right) is addressed to the White House. Both tools ask volunteers for some information (street address, ZIP code, name, email, and phone) before taking them to a page where they can write the actual email.
The Senate tool also includes the option to call the offices of any volunteer’s Senators. It will provide the phone numbers for both offices, which the volunteer can call. Once they’re done, they can mark the “Called” box and continue.
(For visual demonstrations for contacting senators, visit these two videos on CCL’s Youtube channel) Volunteers in this challenge are encouraged to add personal touches to their outreach, as well as to get friends, family, classmates, and others they know to use these same tools. Completing a call or an email is worth one point, and getting someone they know to use these tools is worth one additional point. This first option is quick and easy, and volunteers or people they know can quickly take part in effective climate action.
Volunteers in this challenge have another outreach option: phone banking voters in key states. CCL provides training and support for volunteers new to phone banking and anyone interested can sign up for shifts through this link. Each volunteer wins five points for participating in phone banking and wins one more point for each person that promises to contact their Senators or the White House via CCL’s tools.
Although more time consuming, this option reaches people in key states and is incredibly rewarding as volunteers get to interact directly with voters and speak about issues that they are truly passionate about. . Not to mention, the more constituent supporters that policymakers are aware of, the more likely it is that we will achieve our goal.
The final form of outreach is the CCL Senator Twitterstorm. This last option is being organized by CCL’s Labor Action Team and requires a Twitter account. CCL’s Labor Action team is targeting Senators who are supporters of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions. The American Federation of Teachers supports climate action and has supported climate action in the past. Volunteers in this challenge like and retweet tweets that contain the hashtags #PriceOnCarbon and #BudgetReconciliation, and that tag the American Federation of Teachers’ account @AFTunion. Retweets and likes are worth one point apiece.
This option is relatively quick, and the support of a major organization such as the AFT helps raise more awareness of the need for climate action and builds more political will to bring it about.
The amount of traction that CCL youth volunteers across the country are able to achieve is astounding. Earlier this year, they were able to get 70 endorsements for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act in just 100 days. The Price Carbon Now! Challenge began a few weeks ago and will end on November 1st, which means it’s not too late to act — join young CCLers in this push for carbon pricing.
Alex Lei is a CCL volunteer based in the Silicon Valley area. He is a member of the CCL Silicon Valley North (SVN) chapter, the SVN Letter Writing Team, and CCL’s Conservative Caucus. He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, where he majored in biology and minored in professional writing. While at UC Davis, he was the president of the university’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian student organization.