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Local group calls for more ambitious climate policy

The Northeast Tennessee chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby applauds the passage in the Senate of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which contains significant funding for projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More must be done, however, to meet the goal of cutting U.S. carbon emissions by half in the next decade.
“We were really pleased that Republicans and Democrats were able to come together on this important legislation. The funding in this bill for electric vehicle charging stations, public transportation and energy efficiency will help to reduce some of the emissions heating up our world,” said Dr. Norma Morrison, co-leader of the Northeast Tennessee chapter of CCL. “But as the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows, those emissions need to come down faster. The quickest way to achieve those reductions is with a price on carbon.”
The infrastructure bill, which passed on Aug. 10 with a vote of 69-30, now moves to the U.S. House for consideration.
The day before the Senate vote, the IPCC released its report detailing the ways humans have altered the earth’s climate, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels. The report warned of dire consequences for civilization unless dramatic cuts in emissions are rapidly made.
“The world is simultaneously on fire and drowning. Here in Carter County, we’ve seen flooding and drought along with wildfires,” said Morrison. “Our chances of preserving a livable world depend on how fast we can bring down carbon emissions.”
Senate Democrats are working on legislation that will move through the process of budget reconciliation, which would require a simple majority for passage. Senate Republicans have sway in this process too — even if their support of the final package is unlikely, their support of individual policies can influence what is included in the budget. Major steps to address climate change will be part of that legislation, and Citizens’ Climate Lobby is calling for carbon pricing to be included.
“We’re asking Senator Marsha Blackburn, Senator Bill Hagerty and Rep. Diana Harshbarger to support a fee on carbon with cash back to households,” said Morrison. “Carbon pricing is the essential tool needed to bring down emissions. We can’t leave that tool sitting in the box, given the urgency laid out in the IPCC report.”
Citizens’ Climate Lobby recently completed a nationwide campaign in which concerned constituents generated 50,000 emails and calls to their senators, asking them to support carbon pricing. The campaign now turns to the House of Representatives, and the Northeast Tennessee CCL chapter is asking Rep. Diana Harshbarger to also support carbon pricing in climate legislation moving forward this year.
“We are already feeling the effects of climate change here in Carter County and throughout Tennessee. Failure to quickly bring down the emissions causing climate change will worsen that impact in the future. That’s why we need to price carbon now,” said Morrison.
(Submitted by the Northeast Tennessee Citizens Climate Lobby, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national politics to address climate change.)