Conservative conference and lobbying bring a message to resonate with all

By Kathy Fackler, Durango chapter

In March, Citizens’ Climate Lobby brought 100 conservative climate advocates together in Washington D.C. for training, networking, and in-person lobby meetings with Republican members of Congress. Four volunteers from Colorado CCL traveled to the nation’s capital for the event, including first-time citizen lobbyists Bob Blackburn, a retired contractor from Sedalia, and Etinosa Igunbor, a graduate student in soil science and land management from Western Colorado University in Gunnison.

The Conservative Leadership Conference fills an important role in CCL’s advocacy model. “With Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, further progress on climate change will require a bipartisan approach,” said Madeleine Para. “Republicans on the Hill need to hear from fellow conservatives about solutions that align with their values.”

This year, the conference and lobby day focused on clean energy permitting. CCL’s government affairs team explained why permit modernization is on the critical path for climate right now. It takes an average of $4.5 million and 5 years to permit an infrastructure project. The current process was designed half a century ago, when government entities were building large infrastructure projects with little advance notice and public knowledge or community input. Today we are faced with a different, but equally urgent problem. We have to transform our entire energy system to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050. That means building a lot of clean energy.

According to a new study by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, 2000 gigawatts of energy projects are waiting for connection to the grid. Renewables account for 95% of the backlog. “The amount of solar, wind, and storage in the queues today exceeds the amount needed to get to 90% of U.S. electricity from zero-carbon resources by 2035.” (Source) The longer it takes to build clean energy, the more the planet will warm.

Permit modernization doesn’t mean eliminating critical environmental reviews or ignoring local concerns. CCL’s four goals are: (1) build transmission faster, (2) shorten review time so projects aren’t stalled indefinitely, (3) eliminate duplicative processes, and (4) prioritize robust and early community engagement.

The conservative CCL volunteers who attended the conference were given a strong message to take to Congress: “Climate is calling. We need to get things built.”

Lobby teams visited 24 Republican offices. Our Colorado volunteers met with Congressman Ken Buck (CO-D4) and a bright young staff member to talk about the energy transition in his district, and how we need to work together to make sure Coloradans have reliable, affordable, clean energy. We can grow the economy and protect the climate at the same time while strengthening national security. That’s a conservative message that should resonate with all Americans.

Our first-time lobbyists were properly awed and inspired by their meetings. Bob Blackburn, a constituent of Rep. Buck’s, was “moved on an unexpected, very personal level, by participating in Democracy with my CCL team.” For Etinosa Igunbor, “it was a fantastic opportunity, especially as a graduate student from a minority group, to exchange thought-provoking ideas with the CCL team regarding climate change issues and energy transitions.”

Conservatives care about our climate and they want Republicans to participate in the solution. CCL is helping to bring that message to the U.S. Congress. If you want to bring more conservative voices to our climate advocacy, consider joining our Colorado CCL Conservative Policy Caucus. Our Colorado team aligns with CCL’s national action teams: