About the author

Helen Seidler, of Bend, is the president of LavaEdge LLC begun in 1999 under the name of Somerset Global in Bethesda, Maryland. Prior to consulting, her career of 25 years in international nonprofit work focused on environment, gender and education and included senior management positions with the Council on Foundations, CARE, World Learning, the Overseas Education Fund and Ashoka.

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M omentum is building in support of meaningful policy at the federal level to address the causes and impacts of a warmer world. This discussion has long passed the debate over the legitimacy of the science (yes, temperatures are rapidly rising in the air, on land and in the ocean) and is now focused on responses.

Signs of willingness to move on this issue in bipartisan fashion include the work of the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a body formed just 14 months ago that now has 46 members, half of whom are Republicans and half Democrats. Already this year, six bills dealing with energy and climate have been introduced by one or more members of the caucus, and the group meets on a regular basis to investigate together the details and solutions to this problem.

Communication with Congress about climate is on the upswing, and the more the better. Our elected officials emphasize repeatedly that they care about what their constituents tell them is important. Along with individuals, businesses have spoken out on the need for sound climate policy.

“Business Backs Low-Carbon USA” is a letter urging support for a low-carbon economy that was sent to the current administration in January, signed by 1,000 businesses including the major players in the U.S. Then in February, a nonprofit, the Climate Leadership Council, released a study titled “The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends” authored by well-known conservative statesmen and economists. Their proposal is to allow the market to wean us off of a fossil-fuel economy by placing a tax on carbon-based fuels resulting in relatively less expensive renewable fuels. The money collected (the dividends) is returned to households to cover increased costs during the transition period. And to protect U.S. businesses engaging in international trade, a border adjustment would be applied to goods coming in from or going out to countries without a carbon tax. The Conservative Case has won the backing of companies such as Exxon Mobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo.

The overall message for Congress is that effective bipartisan policy at the federal level is needed to bring about the low-carbon economy in a timely manner. Person-to-person communication with members of Congress and their staffs is an effective way to deliver that message.

In mid-June, as part of an impressive effort organized by Citizens Climate Lobby, I was one of 1,000 people who met with 500 congressional offices all in one day to discuss climate change. I had the privilege of representing CCL’s Bend chapter, one of six active chapters in our state. CCL has been active on The Hill as a champion of a carbon fee and dividend approach to support renewable energy for 10 years, and the organization is well received by congressional members and their staffs, regardless of party. The team that visited Rep. Greg Walden’s office was able to deliver a letter requesting that he act on climate issues signed by 50 businesses from his district. More signatures are on the way, and businesses wishing to sign on are encouraged to contact CCL in Bend.

On a parallel track at the state level in Oregon, businesses have begun to organize under the Oregon Business Alliance for Climate. The Alliance recognizes the threats to Oregon’s economy and the opportunities available by responding to our changing climate. It is working on “mobilizing industry support and business leadership towards advancing climate policy, instituting a price on carbon emissions while building Oregon’s clean economy.” State and local efforts are necessary to address our climate problem because, after all, it is here on the ground where the economy actually functions. Bend has excelled by committing our community to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Climate Resolution passed last September.

It is important that we encourage government at all levels to act and leverage the advantages of activity already underway to transition to an economy powered by renewable energy.