WASHINGTON – Members of the Durango chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby gathered this week in Washington for three days of lobbying to press Congress to enact environmentally friendly policies.
Each year, CCL hosts an International Conference and Lobby Day. From Colorado, 39 members joined the June 10-12 conference.
Kathy Fackler, a retired software engineer in Durango, attended her second conference and first lobbying day after joining the Durango’s CCL chapter about a year ago.
Fackler said she was inspired to join after the election of President Donald Trump. For her, climate change is the most pressing issue, she said.
“After the presidential election, things changed a lot,” Fackler said. “I’m a moderate Democrat, but things changed a lot. ... When I was looking at it, this is the mother of all issues. If we don’t get climate change right, it doesn’t matter if we have health care coverage or that kind of thing.”
Since joining the CCL, Fackler said she went to the group’s Congressional Education Day in November in Washington. Fackler said she likes that the CCL is a bipartisan organization.
They gathered on the steps of the Capitol building Tuesday in Washington to meet with members of the offices for Colorado Sens. Cory Gardner and Michael Bennett and Rep. Scott Tipton, of Cortez.
“I got up early and I’ve been going all day,” Fackler said. “I’ve talked to all members in all three offices, and we had really interesting conversation. With every case, they raised points that either I hadn’t thought of or I have thought of and didn’t really delve into.”
Members lobbied for a carbon-pricing system known as Carbon Fee and Dividend, which puts fees on oil, gas and coal used in the United States.
“Here on the Western Slope, we’re feeling the impact in the form of higher average temperatures and increased drought conditions, which stress key industries like agriculture and outdoor recreation and leave our beautiful mountains vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire,” said Andrew Zeiler, co-leader of Durango’s CCL, in a news release. “If we work together to enact thoughtful, bipartisan public policy like Carbon Fee and Dividend, we can protect our climate and create a cleaner, more stable future.”
For Fackler, an important part of the meetings was hearing different perspectives.
“I was in two meetings with a conservative from Boulder and I really like that because I can understand conservative thought but I don’t embody that,” Fackler said. “I love hearing what his take was. ... We’re best when we’re all coming together with all of our minds engaged and nobody has the one solution.”
At the end of the day, Fackler said she saw incremental progress being made. She said she’ll return next year for CCL’s International Conference and Lobby Day.
“It’s a whole lot of people moving the needle a tiny bit, and sometimes you’re two steps forward one step back, but you’re always moving it forward,” Fackler said.
Maria Carrasco is an intern for The Durango Herald and a student at American University in Washington, D.C.An earlier version of this story referred to Andrew Zeiler, co-leader of Durango’s CCL, by only his last name.