Citizens’ Climate Lobby for Maine visited U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s office in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 13 to advocate for climate change solutions. Two students from Kennebunk High School were among the group that met with Pingree. SUBMITTED PHOTO

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the urgency of addressing climate change grows more and more apparent, York County members of the non-partisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby traveled to Washington, D.C., where they joined with 19 other Maine volunteers and with hundreds of volunteers from around the nation last week, urging Congress to enact policies to reduce the heat-trapping pollution that is warming our world.

Two students from Kennebunk, joined seven more Maine students on the trip, as part of Maine’s delegation to help Congress find economical solutions to climate change. Each of Maine’s four Congressional offices spent a half-hour with the Maine group, seriously discussing the problems climate change brings to Maine and the group’s proposed solution, the Carbon Fee and Dividend.
Ruth Metcalfe attends Kennebunk High School and is a member of the Maine Youth Environmental Association.  She met with Rep. Chellie Pingree and Sen. Angus King.
Pingree personally affirmed her commitment, made in Congressional election debates, to support CCL’s proposed Carbon Fee and Dividend. which will put a fee on all oil, gas and coal we use in the United States.
Advocates say it will drive down carbon pollution because energy companies and Americans will choose cleaner, cheaper energy options. The money from the fee will be returned directly to people as a monthly rebate check worth hundreds of dollars and most American households will end up with more money in their pockets and a cleaner and healthier environment, according to advocates for the plan.
Conservative economists, such as Greg Mankiw, and liberal economists, like Robert Reich, agree that such a program will also be good for the economy and job growth.
“We’re running out of time to avoid the worst consequences of climate change,” said Maggie  Bartenhagen, a group leader in Kennebunk. “Here in York County we’re feeling the impact of changing climate caused by burning carbon fuels. We experience frequent and expensive tidal damage to our sea walls, roads and buildings, damage to our fishing industry, a Lyme disease epidemic, and the rapid spread of new forest pests threatening our forest products industry.”
Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a national, nonpartisan advocacy organization working to bring Republicans and Democrats together on market-based solutions to climate change. The group has been the primary catalyst for the formation and growth of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, which now has 90 members, 45 Republicans and 45 Democrats.  To date neither of Maine’s representatives have joined the Caucus.

Another group leader, Jay Kilbourn of Kennebunk doesn’t believe that climate change and carbon pricing should be so controversial.

“After all,” he said, “nearly all economists and scientists agree that carbon pricing is a necessary first step to resolving carbon pollution and climate change. When conservative economists, such as Greg Mankiw, and liberal economists, like Robert Reich, agree that such a solution will also be good for the economy and job growth, we should all take note.”

Nationally, conservatives have formed their own sister organization to promote a similar proposal. Led by Republicans George Schultz and James Baker, the Climate Leadership Council supports carbon pricing and rebates because this solution grows jobs and doesn’t grow government or regulations, and because it relies on the market rather than the government to pick winners and losers.

The highly acclaimed international group of scientists known as the IPCC states that the next two years are critical for global action, and that humankind must achieve dramatic reductions in carbon pollution over the following 10 years to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Maine’s towns, cities and industry are already hard hit by the impact of changing climate caused by burning carbon fuels. The Gulf of Maine is the second fastest warming body of water on the planet, with dramatic effects on the state’s fishing and lobster industry just over the horizon.

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