A group of concerned Cache Valley residents has jump-started a local chapter of the national Citizens Climate Lobby, aimed at starting a conversation with citizens, editorial boards and lawmakers to improve the environment.
“It should have been done years ago because the concept is wonderful. We just finally got the inspiration, if you will, to do this because there’s a lobby down in Salt Lake City,” said Jack Greene, a member of the lobbying group who has been instrumental in a variety of environmental and climate change-related activities in the valley over the years. “Everyone who (is a member of this chapter) trusts the scientists that we have a real problem here ... Weather-related events, drought, storm, wildfires, superstorms are getting more common.”
On Saturday, the Citizens Climate Lobby Cache Valley Chapter held a “group start meeting” at the Logan Library to strategize, even holding a mock-conversation with Rep. Rob Bishop.
Speaking on why the formation of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby-Cache Valley Chapter is necessary, Greene said he believes most Utahns agree climate change exists. Indeed, a study by Stanford University social psychologist Jon Krosnick supports this. The study’s data showed that “a vast majority of red-state Americans believe climate change is real, and at least two-thirds of those want the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”
“I’d want to say to the Cache Valley community is that we still have naysayers — we still have people that don’t believe the Earth is round — and that’s fine. That’s diversity, and I don’t condemn that,” Greene said. “But I think ... the majority of those across the state believe that ... human activities are part of (climate change). Maybe they have friends who were hit by the severe St. George floods or folks that almost got burnt out by the fire in Utah Valley.”
One of the initiatives the group will start with is pushing for carbon-fee and dividend legislation that would potentially put a tax on the amount of carbon dioxide in fossil fuels. Greene said the group is aware that in an election year, any proposal that deals with a tax might not be popular for politicians to support.
But other members of the Cache Valley chapter, like Ben Mates, told The Herald Journal why it’s important to make the case for such legislation.
“If affects the whole world, and we need a solution that matches the magnitude of the problem,” Mates said. “If we can get the U.S. to do it, then the rest of the world can.”
As a reason for action, Mates pointed to recent “superstorm” events, such as the heavy rain that led to flooding along Colorado’s Front Range from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins in September of last year.
“What happened in Colorado could easily happen in Utah,” he said. “We don’t do something, then we increase our vulnerability to natural disasters. We’ve seen them increase in frequency and intensity, and that’s what has us in action.”
Going forward, Mates believes the Citizen’s Climate Lobby Cache Valley Chapter will be successful.
“(Politicians) don’t create political will — they respond to it,” he said. “We’re providing the structure and support for citizens to make their voices heard to members of Congress.”