In a time of political divisiveness, John Sabin says he wants to bring Republicans and Democrats together on climate change.
He was part of an Oberlin delegation that traveled to Washington, D.C., in June as part of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby in hopes of convincing officials to pass planet-friendly legislation.
Sabin leads the Oberlin chapter of the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, which wants Congress to place a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels — a solution Sabin calls the “best first step” to preventing the impacts of a warming world.
He was joined in the nation’s capital by his daughter Brook and Ray English, the chapter’s congressional liaison, as well as about 1,400 other climate lobby members from around the world.
Oberlin College student Jess Wilber became sick and couldn’t attend but was able to listen via speaker phone.
Two days of 12-hour training prepared members to meet with more than 500 congresspeople to pitch the carbon fee proposal. The Oberlin trio met with Jim Jordan (R-Ohio 4th District), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio 7th District) Marsha Fudge (D-Ohio 11th District), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio 9th District), and a representative of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
They hand-delivered copies of Oberlin city council’s resolution supporting the legislation to Jordan, Brown, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
Citizens’ Climate Lobby members are trained to emphasize bipartisanship and respectful dialogue. Sabin said he tried to emphasize the local impacts of climate change. The meetings ranged from 20 to 30 minutes and all had a positive tone, he said.
“It is intimidating. It’s like walking into the palace of the Wizard of Oz. But just like the Wizard of Oz, you find they are just a person like you, just another human being,” Sabin said.
His daughter, one of the youngest of the lobbyists, felt overwhelmed walking into the U.S. Capitol Building for the first time after realizing how many influential leaders have shared in her footsteps.
“There’s no way to get over the nerves when you’re actually sitting in a senator’s office. but you just have to remind yourself that this is important work you’re doing,” she said.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.