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Joe Tedino

I plan to travel to Washington, DC this week with more than 30 other Illinois residents and about 1,000 people from all 50 states to participate in hundreds of climate-related meetings with lawmakers. We will discuss the urgent need to reduce America’s carbon emissions, focusing on legislative solutions that we hope will be supported by Congress and ultimately enacted into law.

Each of us is committed to solving the climate crisis that seems to worsen every time I check social media, pick up a newspaper, or turn on the radio. Illinoisans have experienced the negative impacts of climate change firsthand: Lake Michigan ice cover was at an all-time low last winter, and snow cover was also at an all-time low. Last month, Illinois scientists found that certain disease-carrying ticks are now migrating to our area due to milder winters and earlier warming in the spring.

I am not a paid lobbyist, and neither are people like me from Chicago, Naperville, Lake Zurich, or anywhere else in Illinois. We are regular people from all walks of life who will be on Capitol Hill addressing the impacts of climate change, one meeting and one conversation at a time.

Shyia Whiting of Markham, a third-year student at Illinois State University who will join us, said she wants to turn her climate concerns “into action” by talking to “the people who have the power to change the way we protect our climate.”

People march in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC Citizen lobbyists from Illinois and across the country are in Washington this week to call on Congress to act on climate issues.
Associated Press archive photo

Another student making the trip, Cristina Mac Cormac, a Penn State sophomore from Lake Zurich, said she hopes to “engage more young people in the fight to pass environmental policy.” She is excited about the opportunity to “have a direct impact on this fight.”

A recent CBS News poll found that 70% of respondents support the United States taking steps to curb climate change. Yet many of our elected officials are not taking action fast enough to reduce the carbon impact on our environment. That’s why we’re interrupting our normal lives and heading to Washington this week for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby Summer Conference. We’ll spend a full day on Capitol Hill speaking with our elected officials to push for bold climate action.

I and others like me have been advocating for years for Congress to take action to put a price on carbon pollution, and we will continue to do so because we know it is the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help rapidly reduce America’s carbon pollution – by as much as 50% by the end of this decade.

Additionally, in Washington, we will ask our members of Congress to pass legislation that speeds up the permitting of new clean energy infrastructure and improves grid resilience. Last year, lawmakers passed some permitting reform measures, but that’s only a small part of what’s needed. We must continue to advance transmission projects and improve early community engagement. For example, the BIG WIRES Act, introduced in the Senate and House last fall, will help ensure America has a reliable, resilient grid capable of delivering affordable, clean electricity.

Over the past few months, volunteers like me have been collating our climate conversations as part of a CCL initiative. Since April, we’ve hosted more than 30,000 conversations across the country to talk about the climate crisis with our families and friends, people at work, and our neighbors.

Regular conversations with Republican and Democratic members of Congress are critical to finding bold policy solutions needed to reduce climate pollution and accelerate a clean energy future that benefits all.

Joe Tedino, a Chicago-based communications consultant, volunteers with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

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