October 2016 Meeting Notes

Minutes from our October 19, 2016 Meeting

(prepared by Peter Rolnick)

Present: Peter Rolnick, Terri Macey, Eric Johnson (by phone!), Kai Hedstrom, Barbara Eckstein, Chris Bergan.

  • We welcomed Kai, who is new to ICCA. He just graduated from Luther College, and is working with Americore helping to make public housing in the area more environmentally friendly. Welcome, Kai!
  • Eric talked about the reasons he is feeling optimistic that we can succeed at dealing with the challenges climate change presents. [An outline of what he said, including links to references, is included at the end of these minutes.]
  • We each studied a CCL “LaserTalk” (brief talking points on a subject connected to climate and a revenue-neutral carbon fee, prepared by CCL), after which we each explained about what we had learned. Besides learning new things, this was great practice in trying to explain an idea to others. The topics we talked about were:
    • Nuclear Power (Barbara): CCL takes no position on whether or not nuclear should be part of our path away from fossil fuels toward totally sustainable energy.
    • British Columbia’s Revenue-Neutral Carbon Fee (Terri): British Columbia has had a plan similar to CF&D in place for a few years, and it has decreased greenhouse emmisions relative to areas of Canada which have no such plan, and there has been no downturn in the economy.
    • Australian Carbon Tax Repealed (Peter): Australia had a carbon tax for two years which did decrease emissions, but it was repealed by Parliment. This is primarily because it was not a revenue-neutral tax (though Barbara pointed out that it was also coincident with a switch from a liberal to a conservative majority in Parliment).
    • Subsidies (Kai): CCL supports, eventually, ending all subsidies for energy production. Currently the ratio of subsidies for fossil-fuel energy to those for sustainable alternatives is around five to one.
    • Climate Basics (Chris): Temperature is increasing, it is caused by human activites (burning of fossil fuels, unsustainable agricultural practices, etc.). The science of how increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes the Earth to warm has been well-understood for years.
    • Biofuels (Eric): CCL takes no stand on biofuels. Though most current ethanol production leads to a net increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, if there was a fee on carbon then the true cost of those aspects of ethanol production which are unsound would be addressed, or it would no longer be economically feasible (especially with no energy subsidies–see above.)
  • We talked about the movie Dear President Obama (about the negative consequences of fracking), which some of us saw recently. We also discussed the challenge of deciding what personal choices to make in how we each live (as relates to climate change), and the challenge of how to best involve ourselves in ICCA–how to make the best use of each of our unique talents in making our organization effective while being respectful of ourselves and our time.
  • Terri will look into hosting a viewing of the CCL episode of Years of Living Dangerously. Peter will connect her with details about having a viewing party [DONE].
  • Kai expressed an interest in going to DC in November for Congressional Education Day; he will look into whether or not that would be feasible. Peter will put out a request for funds to help with travel expenses [DONE], which some people at the meeting said they would be able to do if needed.
  • In discussing tabling, Barbara told us about a project she and her students have been working on gathering information from Iowans about their experiences with extreme climate events. It is a collection of stories–a “people’s weather map”. In order to connect with more stories, and more people outside the “Iowa City environmentalists circle”, she suggested making our tabling be about collecting and sharing these stories, without any pushing of CCL or CF&D (though if people ask about that we could tell them).
  • When some of us (including Barbara and Peter) met with Loebsack staffer Dave Leshtz in August Dave had suggested organizing a joint labor/environmentalist conference. Barbara suggested that the movie Deep Water Horizon, besides being a good movie, focused particularly on labor–perhaps a showing of that movie could be part of such a conference.



Historical Reasons

Technological Reasons

Political Reasons

September 2016 Meeting Notes

Iowa City Climate Advocates/Iowa City Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby Meeting

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Meeting Notes (prepared by Peter Rolnick)

People present: Eric Johnson, Jaimie McCoy, Jenna Hammerich, Terri Macey, Peter Rolnick, Linda Quinn, Brian Parkinson, Barbara Eckstein, Jim Throgmorton

  • We introduced ourselves and talked about what kind of things, related to our work on climate change, we liked to do and didn’t like to do. Interesting discussion followed, including: An explanation from Brian, who farms in Illinois, as to why no-till farming is better for the environment (and for the farmer!) than traditional plowing.
  • Eric gave a “laser talk” about what other countries in the world are doing to address climate change. The upshot is that about 50% of the world is already either pricing carbon in some way or has definite plans to do so. Furthermore, of the most developed economies only the United States is not pricing carbon. (I asked about Russia, which is also not pricing carbon, and it turns out that, if you include the state of California as one of the world’s top developed economies, it “bumps” Russia out of that category!) More information can be found about this on the CCL-Community website here: http://citizensclimatelobby.org/laser-talks/carbon-prices-around-world/.
  • It was pointed out that at one time Senator Grassley, in his consistently thoughtful responses to people’s letters, used to say that the US could not enact a carbon fee because China wasn’t doing anything. Now, to a number of us, he has said the problem is that, the REMI study notwithstanding, he is convinced that a revenue-neutral carbon fee would hurt the poorest Americans and was thus unacceptable. In response to the argument that the US couldn’t take action on pricing carbon until some portion of the rest of the world had, Barbara pointed out that that “following others” was not our only choice as a country; we could also choose to be a leader.
  • We wrote letters to our representatives throughout the meeting, one to Brian’s representative in Illinois, one to Senator Ernst and four to Congressman Loebsack.
  • We talked about fundraising. I agreed to look into a music/food fundraising event at Uptown Bill’s. This would be to raise money for our printing, MeetUp, and incidental expenses, plus money to help people travel to DC in June and November to lobby Congress.
  • We talked about what are the most effective things we can do to contribute to the effort to get a a revenue-neutral carbon fee passed by Congress before the end of 2017. Gathering endorsements and tabling were suggested. Some people talked of frustrating experiences they had had tabling–no one stopping to talk. It would be good if we had an endorsements person who spearheaded endorsement efforts, and then individuals could focus on small tasks as guided by that person. Anyone interested in taking on that role should contact me (mailto:prolnick@truman.edu or 660-342-2671). There is good information on the CCL-Community website on gathering endorsements: https://community.citizensclimatelobby.org/endorser-program/. Regarding endorsements and related efforts, Jim suggested, as allies, Mayor Frank Cownie from Des Moines, John Fraser from Iowa City (a retired businessman, perhaps?) working with the Iowa United Nations Association and wanting to connect with business, and Jean Lloyd Jones, the leader (?) of the local Iowa United Nations Association. Jim will send their contact info to me and I will see if one or more of them would be interested in presenting at one of our meetings.
  • As part of an effort to understand the steps needed to get carbon fee & dividend to actually become a bill, Barbara will research the role of the Congressional Budget Office in that process. Eric will give her information about whom to contact in Loebsack’s DC office.
  • Upcoming Events:
    • Mindy Ahler (one of our Regional Leaders) and Ryan Hall are riding their bikes across the country to raise awareness of climate change. They are currently in Montana. On October 1st they will be in Bismark, North Dakota, and they will be in Washington DC on November 14th, so in October or November they will be riding through Iowa. They will go through Greenfield, Indianola, Des Moines, Pella, Fairfield and Muscatine. Anyone able to meet them and show support would be welcome! You can find out more info regarding exactly where they’ll be when, as they get closer, at https://lowcarboncrossings.wordpress.com/cross-country-ride-2016/.
    • ICCA is hosting a showing of the movie Dear President Obama, narrated by Mark Ruffalo. The movie (2 hours and 11 minutes) is a critique of Obama’s “all of the above” approach to energy policy. The showing will be Tuesday October 4th, 6:30 pm, at the Iowa City Public Library, Room A.
    • Volunteers are still needed to lobby Congress in Washington, DC on Congressional Education Days, November 14, 15, 2016. Arrangements have been made to meet with Representative Loebsack (not a staffer), but so far there are no CCL-ers from Iowa that I know of going. Experience not required! If you are interested see http://citizensclimatelobby.org/congressional-education-day/, or contact me (mailto:prolnick@truman.edu or 660-342-2671).
    • There will be a Regional Citizens’ Climate Lobby Meeting in Okiboji, IA on March 16th & 17th. This will be a great opportunity to learn about Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and to meet fellow climate activists from other parts of our state and from neigboring states. Details are forthcoming, but it is in a beautiful place with beautiful accomodations. CCL executive director Mark Reynolds will be there. I will be driving there and will be glad to take along passengers.
    • ICCA will be hosting a 5k Run/Walk on Earth Day (April 22, 2017) to raise money for victims of climate change and to honor the memory of Barbara Schlacter, one of the founders of ICCA. The route will be from City Park to Terry Trueblood park. For more information or to volunteer to help out, contact Eric (mailto:eric.d.johnson@gmail.com).


Wednesday, October 19, 7-8:30 pm

Iowa City Public Library, room E

‘Gotta Save ‘Em All’ From Climate Change

Op Ed by Steve Valk in the Press-Citizen, August 18, 2016

“Gotta run. There’s a rumble down the street,” my eldest son, Cameron, says. He bolts out the door, cell phone in hand.

I flash back to his high school performance in “West Side Story.” But Cameron isn’t rushing to connect with the Sharks or Jets — he’s heading out to confront trainers wielding Golbat and Pidgeot.

Welcome to the world of Pokemon Go, the mobile app based on the cards, TV show and video games that dominated kid culture back when millennials were growing up in the 1990s. Unless you’ve been stranded on Mars, you can’t help noticing the phenomenon that has swept the world in a matter of weeks, as players wander streets and parks chasing down the coveted characters.

The king of all Pokemon, of course, is the iconic Pikachu: a yellow, pointy-eared creature with the power to cause taser-like paralysis using “static” (I’m guessing he’s especially dangerous in carpeted rooms). Pikachu was the main character in the anime TV show and has been the face of the Pokemon franchise ever since.

What many don’t realize, though, is that a real-life Pikachu — sans static power — can be found out West. Called the American pika, this small, rabbit-like animal has a bark that sounds like the squeak from a doggy chew toy. After viewing a short video, I declared it the cutest mammal on the planet.

But the most lovable rodent since Mickey Mouse now faces a foe more formidable than Charizard: climate change.

You see, the pika lives in high-elevation, mountainous habitats, where it relies upon a fairly heavy coat of fur to protect against the cold. That coat, however, makes it susceptible to overheating in summer months. Pika can die if their body temperature increases by as little as 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit; exposure to six hours of temperatures that we’d consider fairly comfortable — 77 degrees — can be lethal. What’s more, climate change is disrupting the growth cycles of local vegetation, which limits the amount of food the pika can store for the winter.

If climate change is left unchecked, rising temperatures will make the pika’s home uninhabitable by this uniquely American species. And the pika has lots of company — a study published in the journal Science last year predicts that one in six species could be wiped out if current climate trends continue. In 2014, the National Audubon Society released a shocking study that revealed nearly half the bird species in North America face extinction by 2080, primarily because of climate change.

So how do we keep Earth’s thermostat from going haywire and help our animal friends stay alive?

First, we must reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases — mainly carbon dioxide and methane — that are trapping heat in our atmosphere. To do this, we can enlist the power of the marketplace to reduce those emissions by placing a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels. A study from Regional Economic Models, Inc. shows that a fee on carbon increasing $10 per ton each year will reduce CO2 emissions by 52 percent within 20 years.

Amazingly, we can do all this while actively improving the American economy. Returning all net revenue from the carbon fee to households in equal shares — a policy known as Carbon Fee and Dividend — would put more spending money in American pockets, adding some 2.8 million jobs. It’s a win for workers and the environment alike.

In a moment akin to Babe Ruth calling his shot at the 1932 World Series, Citizens’ Climate Lobby has declared that Congress will pass a revenue-neutral carbon fee bill by the end of 2017. As many in the GOP rediscover the conservationist ethic of Theodore Roosevelt, the prospects for such legislation grow better and better.

The slogan for Pokemon, as millions of enthusiasts know, is “Gotta catch ’em all.” Those who are working to check the ravages of climate change and protect species like the American Pika might adopt a similar slogan: “Gotta save ’em all.”

Steve Valk is communications director for Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Carbon Fee an Essential First Step on Climate

Op Ed by Peter Rolnick in the Press-Citizen August 17, 2016

Up until this year I’d never lobbied Congress, but in June I joined a thousand other volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby and met with members of Congress from Iowa to promote Carbon Fee and Dividend, a plan for a revenue-neutral fee on carbon.

Why spend time, energy and money to go to Washington and meet with my representatives? Of all the challenges we face as a country, global warming due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is the most pressing. If we don’t address it in the next few years the world my grandchildren will face as they grow up will be unrecognizable: major coastal cities flooded, extreme droughts and floods. The resulting violence and massive immigration worldwide will make the current crisis in Syria look small. If we wait 20 years it will be too late — changes will have been set in motion that cannot be undone.

I am not saying that other problems we face are not deserving of our immediate and focused attention. I am just saying that the problem of global warming must be addressed immediately, even as we address those other problems.

Is it really that bad? Yes — the science is crystal clear, check the peer-reviewed literature. The supporting evidence is compelling. Locally: In the past few decades, Iowa has experienced multiple “500-year floods,” or floods that are expected to occur only every 500 years. Globally, the crisis in Syria and the resulting immigration overwhelming nations worldwide was precipitated in no small part by four years of severe drought preceding the civil war.

How does CF&D address the problem? It makes business and consumers pay the true cost of dumping greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. Specifically, CF&D puts a fee on all coal, oil, etc., and the fee increases every year. The fee will make gasoline, home heating, etc., more expensive to consumers. However, all the fees collected are returned to American citizens as a dividend. Models show that lower income Americans will come out ahead, whereas higher-income Americans will come out very slightly behind. The increased spending by those who benefit, along with the increased investment in sustainable energy will create a net increase in jobs and in the economy. That is the main idea, though there is more to CF&D, including a way to protect American business from competition in countries that have no carbon fee.

Why is CF&D the best solution? It does not grow government, it is not a tax, it creates jobs and it does not unfairly burden the poor. It is more effective than a hodge-podge of regulations that vary from state to state. The market solves the problem: People will not invest in or purchase products that dump carbon into the atmosphere; American ingenuity will develop better ways to produce energy without warming the planet. Because the fee increases gradually, the change will happen in a predictable way over the course of a few decades. Economists, and the free market, love predictability — it is a conservative’s dream. Indeed, Reagan’s Secretary of State, George Shultz, strongly endorses CF&D. According to a non-partisan independent modeling company, CF&D, if implemented now, will cut our carbon emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels in 20 years. Thus Citizens’ Climate Lobby has launched a focused effort to get CF&D passed by the end of 2017. I am not saying CF&D is all we need to address climate change, but it will address the immediate problems most effectively.

Think Congress is too dysfunctional? Think again. The Climate Solutions Caucus in the House, which requires equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, contains 16 members and is growing. The members of Congress and staffers I met with, mostly Republicans, were all thoughtful and open to input. In spite of our problems, we still have a government by and for the people, but we must speak up.

If what I’ve said makes sense to you, one way to speak up is to write Senators Ernst and Grassley, and Representatives King, Young, Blum and Loebsack; let them know CF&D is a win-win solution to a pressing problem, and that you support it.

Iowa City Action Plan: Creating a Regenerative City in the Heartland

by Jeff Biggers, from the Huffington Post, 8/3/16

In the face of the “rapid onset” of 1,000-year floods, as reported by Slate meteorologist Eric Holthaus on the recent deluge in Maryland and West Virginia, should flood-prone river towns like Iowa City pursue incremental and piecemeal sustainability efforts or take the lead in setting out a “regenerative city“ climate action plan?

For numerous Iowa City advocates, experts and innovators, who have held public Ecopolis Forums over the past two years on regenerative city initiatives, it’s time for Iowa City to rethink, re-evaluate and re-imagine the ways it deals with energy, food, transit and biodiversity restoration—and turn its recently passed Regenerative City Proclamation into a climate action plan.

Eight years after the historic Iowa River flood swamped the city and left behind an estimated $1 billion in area damages, the city of Iowa City is investing $60 millionin raising a “gateway” transit route only one foot above the 100-year flood level, and planning to hire an outside facilitator for a newly formed Climate Change Task Force, in order to draw up recommendations for 2018 and build on its STAR sustainability rating. Iowa City earned a 40 out of 100 rating on key Climate and Energy STAR benchmarks.

An Iowa City climate action plan based on a regenerative city framework, which seeks to create a restorative relationship between cities, local habitat and natural resources, could include some of the following measures:

Bringing Climate Action to the Public Commons
From public art, such as the proposed solar tree by the 100 Grannies, to educational city showcases, such as solar panels on City Hall, pesticide-free signs posted on public commons, orchards planted on city-owned lots, or a Climate Action and Education Center in the Riverfront Park, Iowa City officials need to actively promote public events, workshops and community discussions on how climate action is “a central priority in strategic planning” and daily life, as declared in the Regenerative City Proclamation.

Urban planning must no longer be the exclusive domain of a handful of city staff and stakeholders, but a process for public participation that brings together policy makers, entrepreneurs and the civil society. Transparency is key to this component; for example, while the city of Iowa City solicited a power purchase agreement proposal for a solar energy installation on City Hall nearly two years ago, which included a zero down and zero incremental cost option over 30 years, the proposal was never discussed in public forums.

Climate Action Partnerships
A true Iowa City climate action plan must be developed with the University of Iowa, the Iowa City Community School District, the adjoining city of Coralville, and Johnson County.

Incubating Green Jobs and Green Business
As the home of the University of Iowa, Iowa City should establish green enterprise zones, provide support and assistance for green job clusters and start-ups, and set benchmarks to significantly expand the number of green jobs in the areas of energy efficiency, green building design and construction, local food and farming, technology and design.

Big Grove: Soil Carbon Sequestration Campaign
While Adelaide, Australia planted 3 million trees as part of its regenerative city initiative, Iowa City should work with its area partners to plant 400,000 trees over the next 4 years, led by the expertise of nationally acclaimed Iowa City farmer and permaculture expert Grant Schultz and Versaland, which recently released this video production on planting 10,000 trees:

Establish Riverfront Crossings District as an EcoDistrict
As a follow up to a recent ordinance mandating inclusionary zoning in the Riverfront Crossings District, which was devastated during 2008 flood, Iowa City should pass a similar series of ordinances for walkability measures, public transit and biking, and requirements for all new buildings to be carbon neutral or include geothermal and photovoltaic solar panels; built-in recycling and composting; integrated edible landscaping; and water infiltration features surrounded by food-bearing plants.

The proposed Riverfront Park, in a city with abundant opportunities for grass and shade trees, should be developed as a showcase for local food, biodiversity and river restoration education.

Net Zero Energy Buildings, Energy Efficiency and Solar Mandates
While Iowa City, like much of Iowa, receives 31% of its electricity from wind energy production, Iowa City should take the lead in promoting Net Zero Energy Building development, and adopt two goals: a requirement for 25 percent of municipal energy use and new building permits to be provided by on-site renewable energy (solar, geothermal) within 2020; and a 2030 Challenge requirement for all new buildings and existing innovation projects to be designed and built to meet energy efficiency standards of 70 percent below the regional average EUI for that building type.

Local Food: 40% by 2020 
Given that Iowa City’s community gardens can be counted on one hand, compared to Chicago’s 800-plus urban farms, and roughly 90% of all food is imported, Iowa City must revamp antiquated zoning policies for urban farming, support the development of a food hub, provide financial assistance for local food business and community garden expenses, and require public and private institutions that receive funding from the City of Iowa City to purchase at a minimum of 40% of their food from local sources.

Similarly, a New Iowans Food and Farm Project could provide city-owned lots and assistance to the growing immigrant community with extensive agricultural backgrounds, such the as Sudanese community, who are actively looking to expand local food markets.

Zero Waste Ordinance 
Building on Iowa City’s excellent reycling and reuse endeavors, including forthcoming changes in mandatory apartment recycling, Iowa City should pass a Zero Waste Ordinance with the goal of generating new materials and compost from 85 percent of its waste by 2025.

Wheels and Walking: Transit
Iowa City is currently pursuing a goal to achieve a gold-level designation from the League of American Bicyclists. While 20% of commuters in the university town walk or bike, less than 10% opt for mass transit. Iowa City should continue to set walkability and bike-ability benchmarks, like Copenhagen, where 50% of all commute trips are made by bicycle, and bicycles outnumber residents, 560,000 bicycles to 520,000 inhabitants.

As the White House noted this spring, “climate change poses a serious danger to public health — worse than polio in some respects — and will strike especially hard at pregnant women, children, low-income people and communities of color.”

It’s time for cities, like Iowa City, to no longer delay on climate action. It’s time for Iowa City to put its resources behind local innovators, overhaul old ordinances, and turn its Regenerative City Proclamation into an action plan.

July 2016 Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes from July 20, 2016 (prepared by Peter Rolnick)

People Present: Chris Bergan, Jenna Hammerich, Carley Kleinhans, Terri Macey, Jaimie McCoy, Christian Noyce, Linda Quinn, Callie Rouse, Peter Rolnick

  • Terri gave a talk on a project she is working on called Consumers in the Wilderness, looking at why many people “camp” with gas-guzzling campers, televisions, etc. Observations she has made include: 1) Places (parks, for example) get branded and sold to us, 2) Nature becomes a commodity, 3) The park system is designed around cars. What does this mean for climate change? We need a fundamental change in values. Much interesting discussion followed.
    • Eric will give the short talk at our September meeting.
  • Callie gave us a brief overview of The Borgen Project (an effort to enact anti-poverty legislation, see http://borgenproject.org/about-us/). They lobby Congress in the same way that we in CCL do. Examples of legislation they are working on are The Reach Every Mother & Child Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1911) and The Food for Peace Act. Successful efforts include Electrifying Africa (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2847) and The Foreign Aid Accountability Act (https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2184). For more information contact Callie: mailto:cjr8495@gmail.com.
    • Christian, who works with the League of Conservation Voters, pointed out that the efforts that Callie is making with The Borgen Project are connected to climate change, since people who are poor or otherwise disadvantaged are more likely to be harmed by the impact of climate change. He referred us to a research paper on this topic called The Climate Gap (https://dornsife.usc.edu/assets/sites/242/docs/The_Climate_Gap_Full_Report_FINAL.pdf)
    • I pointed out that addressing climate change via a revenue-neutral carbon fee actually helps those who are living in poverty (compared to doing nothing).
  • Terri told us about a film, Dear President Obama, that addresses the conflict between Obama’s support for efforts to address climate change and his efforts to promote natural gas production. A showing of the movie costs $250 (which I don’t think we have at the moment). Christian suggested that she contact Film Scene to see if they would want to show it, and she will do that. [Terri has since found out the the price for a screening via Vimeo has gone way down, and may try to arrange a screening soon–she will be in touch if and when an actual plan is in place!]
  • We wrote letters to various people (Joni Ernst, Chuck Grassley, Terry Branstad) telling of our concerns about the climate. Jamie told us how easy it was to call Senators and Congressmen/women via the Capital Switchboard: (202) 224-3121.
    • Don’t forget to email me (mailto:prolnick@truman.edu) whenever you send a letter to a government representative, or whenever you get a Letter to the Editor or Op Ed published, so we can keep track of our activity!
  • Christian agreed to be a writer for our monthly Op Eds for the Press-Citizen. I will contact Barbara Ekstein and let her know. Thank you, Christian!
  • We talked about finding ways for each of us to be involved in helping to achieive Mark Reynolds’ goal of having a Revenue-Neutral Carbon Fee passed by Congress by the end of 2017 (!). I passed on some ideas I heard at the 2016 Conference:
    • There are good, healthy reasons to take on a role or task (if the task has, for you, a sense of play, a clear purpose, potential for growth and accomplishments that you value),
    • There are negative reasons we take on tasks, and we should not take on tasks for these reasons. They include: feeling guilty, a sense of inertia (as in: “this is what I’m doing, I’ll just keep doing it”), or the need to be a “hole filler” (as in: “oh no, no one else is doing this, I better do it).
    • The idea is for each of us to find a role (or roles) that is (are) consistent with who we are, what our time constraints are, and what we enjoy doing. This keeps us from “burning out”, and makes it likely that whatever we do we will do it well.
    • Some things that I see as especially needed right now–things that will directly aid in getting CF&D through Congress, taken from a longer list of possible roles within ICCA that Eric Johnson and I came up with, include:
      • An Endorsement Chair, who would coordinate our efforts to obtain endorsements for Carbon Fee & Dividend (CF&D),
      • A Business Outreach Chair, who would coordinate developing a relationship with local businesses, including The Corridor Business Journal and The Chamber of Commerce, and providing information to them about ways that CF&D would help business,
      • An Agriculture Outreach Chair, who would coordinate developing a relationship with those in our state working in agriculture. (Along with the need to transition from a mostly fossil-fuel economy to a mostly sustainable economy, the need to transform how we practice agriculture is a big part of dealing effectively with climate change, and Iowa is right at the center of that challenge!)
      • A Fundraising Chair, who would coordinate our fundraising efforts. Though our organization has no dues, we are finding that we could use money to support our efforts. Examples include: photocopying costs, hosting events such as the film mentioned above, paying for MeetUp, and, most importantly (and most expensive) paying for our members to travel to DC in November and June so they can participate in DC lobbying efforts. (Eric is working on a 5-k run in Spring 2017 to raise money and climate awareness, and Peter is looking into having a music fundraiser at Uptown Bill’s at some point, but neither Eric nor Peter is in a position to oversee a sustained fundraising plan from year to year.),
      • A Tabling Chair, who would coordinate regular tabling efforts (at local Farmers’ Markets? at the mall? other?).
  • Announcements
    • On Earth Day 2016, members of ICCA sent 3 letters to Dave Loebsack, 10 letters to Joni Ernst and 10 letters to Chuck Grassley. On the June 21 2016, in support of the June 22 lobbying effort in DC, members of ICCA made 6 phone calls to Dave Loebsack, 17 phone calls to Joni Ernst and 17 phone calls to Chuck Grassley.
    • One of our Regional Coordinators, Mindy Ahler, is making a bike ride across the county to bring attention to climate change. She will be in Iowa in the fall, and it is not clear at this point whether she will come through Iowa City or not. For more info, go to: https://lowcarboncrossings.wordpress.com/. (The other regional coordinator is Paul Thompson; they are both from Minnesota.)
    • CCL will have a Regional Meeting March 2017 in Okoboji, IA. Stay tuned for more information about that, and think about whether you would be interested in helping to organize it.
    • Tabling at a Boy Scout Round Table Thursday, August 4th, 6:30 pm; contact Linda (mailto:quinnhenry@msn.com) or Peter (mailto:prolnick@truman.edu) if you are interested in participating.
    • Update on City Council Sustainability Efforts:
      • Some ICCA people attended the July 19th City Council meeting in which sustainability was discussed,
      • Cheryl Miller will meet with Brenda Nations (City Sustainability Coordinator) on July 27,
      • After July 27 Cheryl will coordinate with other local environmental groups and perhaps form one ad hoc committee to systematically give input to the City Council.

Upcoming Events/Meetings

  • Pot luck w/ local chapter of the Sierra Club August 17, Hickory Hill Park (Conklin St entrance), starts at 6 pm. There will be live acoustic folk music (my band-Sweet Cacophony) from 6:30-8:30. There will also be a donation jar for ICCA (speaking of fundraising).
  • Our next meeting (not counting the Pot luck) will be in September, time and place TBA.

Climate change goals can be reached with hard work

From the July 13 Iowa City Press-Citizen:


Forgive me if I’m feeling a little exposed at the moment, but I recently made a really big promise. This isn’t a “tell your daughter you’ll take her to the zoo on Saturday” kind of promise. No, we’re talking about a JFK, “We’re going to put a man on the moon” kind of promise.

On June 19, at the start of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby/Citizens’ Climate Education Conference in Washington, I stood before hundreds of CCL group leaders and congressional liaisons — the heart and soul of our organization — and I promised them this:

By the end of 2017, Congress will pass a bill that places a fee on carbon and returns net revenue to American households.

Perhaps you understand why I feel exposed. There are so many moving parts and variables involved that are totally outside my ability to control. So what gives me the audacity to say we can do this?

Well, when I made the promise, the answer was right there in the faces of the people I was talking to. I would never entertain such an outlandish thought, let alone say it out loud, if it were not for our amazing volunteers.

Volunteers like Pennsylvania’s Jay Butera, who saw the potential of bringing Republicans and Democrats together to combat the growing threat of rising sea levels. Two years ago, armed with nothing but his own determination, he flew down to south Florida — a region highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change — and recruited the volunteers who would form CCL’s Miami chapter. He painstakingly secured endorsements from mayors, city councils and chambers of commerce, convincing local Republican members of Congress that it was time to commit to action. His efforts eventually led to Republican Carlos Curbelo and Democrat Ted Deutch uniting to launch the bipartisan House Climate Solutions Caucus, which now has 16 members with equal numbers from both sides of the aisle.

Still, my heart was in my throat when I asked, “Who’s with me? Stand up if you’re with me.” When everyone stood up, my knees stopped shaking. I knew that they believe, just as I do, that this is no time to hedge our bets.

They know that bills that get introduced in Congress are a dime a dozen — that the only ones that count are the ones that pass. And they know that we’re running out of time. We’re getting dangerously close to the tipping point of no return on greenhouse gas emissions, the point where temperatures and seas will rise beyond our ability to adapt. It’s time for Congress to pass the most efficient and effective solution to climate change — a steadily rising, revenue-neutral fee on carbon. We can’t wait another five years until the “right” people get elected. To paraphrase former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld: You don’t save the world with the Congress you wish you had; you save the world with the Congress you have.

And that is what we intend to do. By the end of 2017.

I’m confident that making this bold commitment will energize our thousands of volunteers, who have dug so deep time and time again, to find another gear within themselves and do what many consider to be impossible.

With this promise, we tap into and unleash a force that only manifests itself when a powerful commitment is made. Many years ago, W.H. Murray described that power in his book, “The Scottish Himalayan Expedition”:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. … (T)here is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

Yes, we’re all feeling a little exposed.  But sticking our necks out so we can preserve a healthy climate for our grandchildren?

That’s a risk we’re more than willing to take.

Mark Reynolds is the executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.


Consider carbon fee and dividend system

In early June, the House of Representatives considered a resolution stating a carbon tax would be detrimental to the U.S. economy.

The main concerns were that it would raise energy costs, hurt America’s global competitiveness and disproportionately harm low-income families and the elderly. I share these valid concerns. They are all resolved, however, by a program of fee and dividend for CO2 emissions. This system would require a fee for all fossil fuels extracted from the ground or imported based on their CO2 emissions and return this revenue to American families evenly as a dividend.

There would be no revenue pulled out of the economy into government coffers. Households below median income would have their increased energy costs offset by the dividend, and there would be a progressive incentive to wean off fossil fuels. A border adjustment would be placed on imported and exported goods to eliminate any competitive disadvantage for products paying their true carbon cost. It would allow the free enterprise system to efficiently guide us to a low carbon future. A detailed discussion of this idea can be found at citizensclimatelobby.org.

Please contact your representatives and encourage them to consider a carbon fee and dividend system.

James McCoy

Iowa City

June 2016 Meeting Notes

Iowa City Climate Advocates/Iowa City Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Notes from our June 8, 2016 Meeting (prepared by Peter Rolnick)

People at the meeting: Dawn Pawlowksi, Terri Macey, Linda Quinn, Jeanne Smith, Eric Johnson, Peter Rolnick, Jaime McCoy, Jim Trepka, Dirk Felleman, Laura Felleman.

  • Peter gave a short “laser talk” about the Border Adjustment that is part of CCL’s proposed Carbon Fee & Dividend. There were a lot of really good questions, and he got a chance to attempt to demonstrate good ways to respond to those who might not “buy” the argument being made. (The point is to hear what the other person’s concerns are and attempt to communicate information that may address those concerns, rather than to “convince”.) Terri agreed to give a talk on a topic of her choice at the July meeting.
  • We wrote 19 letters to our Members of Congress (!); Peter will deliver them personally in D.C.
  • We had a lot of interesting discussion, not just on how the Border Correction works, but on the value (or not) of economic modeling, revenue-neutral versus non-revenue-neutral taxes, how best to communicate our thoughts on climate change and our frustrations with the political situation, among other things.
  • Everyone was reminded to, if they are able, call their Members of Congress (that means: Your Representative in the House and your two Senators) on Monday June 20th in support of the June 21st lobbying effort that will be going on in D.C. Here are details about how to do that:
    • Make three short phone calls to your Congressional representatives- one to your House of Representatives member and one to each U.S. Senator for your state. CCL has an easy resource that anyone can use to get the phone numbers and a short, simple script for these calls; go to http://cclusa.org/callcongress. Please place a note in your calendar for June 20th and be sure to make your calls that day before 4:30 east coast Time (3:30 Iowa Time) so your Congressional Representatives register these calls that day, before 4:30 east coast time. The day and timing are important because the calls will support hundreds of CCL citizen lobbyists attending the annual conference who will be meeting with all House members and Senators on the next day.
  • We discussed the idea of having a 5-k Run (or Walk, or Bike, or…) to raise money for victims of climate change, and raise awareness about climate change. Eric had done a lot of research into what such an effort would entail, and we decided not to try anything until spring or fall of 2017. Among other things, the up-front costs of such an event are beyond what we could manage this year.
  • We discussed fund raising in general:
    • Things we might use money for include: paying for MeetUp.com ($120/yr), reimbursing people for copying and other incidentals, providing scholarships for people to attend the CCL conference and lobbying in D.C. in June, or to attend the lobbying in D.C. in November (this would be around $1000 for one person).
    • Peter will talk to Del Holland (of Environmental Advocates) to see if they could provide some funding to assist us. He will also ask Cheryl Miller for any ideas she may have about fundraising since she is involved in fundraising for Bur Oak Land Trust. He will also talk to Tom Gilsenan at Uptown Bill’s to see what doing a fundraising event there would entail.
    • Dawn will talk to a restaurant (or pub?) she is familiar with about whether fundraising for us might be an option (something like an “ICCA Dinner Night” where a certain portion of the proceeds would go to us).
    • Eric will also talk to some pubs and restaurants about fundraising options.
    • Jim Trepka told us that the Sierra Club was having a potluck in Hickory Hill Park on August 17, and that perhaps we could go in with them, have a band come (if allowed) and put out a donations jar for the two organizations. Peter will talk further with Jim about that.
  • Next Meeting: Wednesday, July 20, 7-8:30 pm, Iowa City Public Library, Room E,

May 2016 Meeting Notes

Iowa City Climate Advocates/Iowa City Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Notes from our May 18, 2016 Meeting (prepared by Peter Rolnick)

People at the meeting: Terri Macey, Chris Bergan, Jenna Hammerich, Eric Johnson, Jeanne Smith, Cheryl Miller, Peter Rolnick, Miriam Kashia, Allison Roberts, Jim Throgmorton, Barbara Eckstein.

  • We all wrote letters or postcards to either Dave Loebsack (our District 2 representative in the U.S. House), Joni Ernst or Chuck Grassley (Iowa’s U.S. senators) expressing our personal concerns (whatever they are) about climate change. Peter will bring those letters and cards to D.C. in June and hand-deliver them to the members of Congress or their staffers.

    • I have in my notes that we discussed using Military Talking Points in communicating with Senator Ernst, as a strong military is one of her top values. I don’t remember if that was a reference to a particular document on the web, but if it was and someone knows the reference let me know and I will share it.

  • ICCA now has a Speakers Bureau. If you wish to be a speaker and/or if you know of venues where we might speak contact Linda Quinn (mailto:quinnhenry@msn.com).

  • We discussed putting on a 5k run to raise money for victims of climate change–perhaps the people displaced by the fires in Alberta, Canada. Some suggested broadening it to support climate refugees, or to support climate awareness. Eric will look into trustworthy ways to funnel money to such people, and he will also look into what is involved in putting on such an event (permits, etc.). He will get back to us at our next meeting. Assuming Eric gets those two things under control, Terri expressed an interest in helping to organize such an event.

  • There are three initiatives coming up (though not immediately) through the City Council which we agreed we would like to be involved in. They are:

    • Set a substantive and achievable goal for reducing city-wide carbon emissions by 2030, and create an ad-hoc climate change task force, potentially under an umbrella STAR Communities committee, [and] … devise a cost-effective strategy for achieving the goal”,

    • Set aside $100,000 to “Undertake a project in FY 2017 that achieves a significant measurable carbon emission reduction,”

    • Form a focus group to look into ways to use TIF (Tax Increment Financing)–this is a place where we could suggest ways to use TIF to encourage sustainability. A person with the city named Wendy Ford is a point person for this effort.

    • Two ways that we can help with this that we discussed are:

      • Have individuals write letters or emails to the City Council thanking them for their efforts in keeping sustainability as a priority along with the many other very important things they need to address. Some of these efforts are outlined in more detail at http://www.iowa-city.org/weblink/0/doc/1528559/Electronic.aspx (scroll down to the third page – a memorandum dated May 18). You can contact them at council@iowa-city.org. (Appearing in person at Council meetings to express support is also helpful.)

      • Cheryl will write a letter to go to all the environmental groups in town to gauge interest in and perhaps initiate an effort to get representatives from all groups together to offer advice to the Council on these initiatives. Peter will help with that letter.

        • Cheryl is also contacting Brenda Nations (Iowa City Sustainability Coordinator) about the residential part of a sustainability effort, about which Cheryl has been doing some research.