Encinitas residents travel to D.C. to push for climate change legislation


Six Encinitas residents recently traveled to Washington, D.C. — and not for the sights.

They’re part of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which has more than 800 volunteers and activists who are set to meet with representatives June 21-23 on Capital Hill.

The non-partisan group believes it’s come up with legislation to tackle climate change that even those who are wary of regulation and big government can support.

“There’s definitely a bipartisan element to what we’re proposing,” said resident Judy Berlfein. The website for Citizens’ Climate Lobby states that former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, a Republican, sits on its advisory board.

Its “carbon fee and dividend” proposal has some similarities to a “cap and trade” model that failed to win broad support in the Senate in 2010. However, Amy Bennett, director of operations for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, said fee and dividend is more predictable, allowing businesses to plan for the future.

“Cap and trade would make polluting more expensive,” Bennett said. “But in the long run because of the trading mechanism, there would be market uncertainty. And what people like John Boehner are always saying is we need market predictability.”

How fee and dividend works: A fee would be assessed on carbon-based fuel at the source — a well, mine or port of entry. The fee would start at $15 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted and increase each year by $10. Supporters say as a result clean energy would eventually be cheaper than fossil fuels, giving investors an incentive to back clean energy sources.

Revenue from the fees would be evenly distributed to American households, helping them pay for the increase in costs of goods and services.

Bennett said the goal is to have the legislation introduced “as soon as possible.”

“If the U.S. leads, the rest of the world will follow,” she said.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby was founded in 2007 by Coronado resident Marshall Saunders.