John Sabin says he’s no scientist — but concern for Earth’s climate has convinced him to take action.
Now he wants to win over Congress and convince elected officials to impose a fee on carbon dioxide emissions.
“It became really clear to me in November that the federal government was likely to go backward on climate change,” said the Oberlin resident of 25 years.
That’s when Sabin decided to launch a local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization looking for a foothold in every congressional district in the nation. Its goal is to convince officials on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation to address global warming.
The CCL wants a gradually rising fee on carbon emissions by fossil fuel companies. It would theoretically put pressure on oil and coal producers to go greener while returning the dividends to the American people and spurring economic growth, Sabin said.
He views the plan as appealing to the left’s environmental base and the right’s fiscal policies.
In a June 11-13 trip to Washington, D.C., Sabin and roughly 1,300 other CCL members pitched the carbon fee idea to members of Congress, who were intrigued mainly by how the plan could grow jobs.
“All the offices we went into there was an attitude of curiosity, wanting to get more information,” Sabin said.
For the plan to be effective, it can’t be embraced by just one party. He said the last thing the climate lobby wants is to repeat the health care fiasco by convincing one side to pass legislation, only to have the other repeal it later.
There is some indication that liberals and conservatives are willing to work together on climate change. The bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House has grown to nearly 50 members since January — it requires one Republican for every Democrat who joins.
Following the lobbying effort in the capital, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) was presented with the Climate Leadership Award from Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
“We need to get beyond this Hatfields versus McCoys brand of politics,” he said.
In a statement issued from his office, Fitzpatrick said, “While there is room for debate and discussion on the issue, it is vital that we never politicize protecting our environment or let partisanship prevent Washington from accomplishing common goals.”
Locally, Sabin said he hopes to see Republicans also become involved in grassroots climate change discussions.
The Oberlin chapter meets monthly at the public library on South Main Street (watch the News-Tribune for details).
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.