Faces of the Campaign: Meet Assata Harris

Faces of the Campaign: Meet Assata Harris

Faces of the Campaign is an ongoing series featuring our key organizers and stakeholders involved in “Put A Price On It, D.C.” Our coalition — more than 45 groups as of this writing — is comprised of racial justice activists, union workers, health advocates, moms, dads, kids, retirees, and business-owners alike. Assata Harris is the Climate Justice Organizer the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.  Here’s her story.

Why does the campaign to put a price on carbon in DC and rebate the revenue matter to you?

When I think of climate justice, I have to be honest with you…. racial and economic justice are not typically the first thing that pops into my mind. However, after I became involved with the “Put A Price On It, D.C” campaign I realized that climate justice and environmental justice don’t have to be either/or they can be both. This policy matters to me because, like you, I recognize climate change as a central issue of our time that affects us all. This campaign goes to the next steps and tackles economic justice at the same time.

What has been your favorite moment in this campaign so far?

I think my favorite moment of this campaign was different moments of interacting with amazing volunteers of all different backgrounds who are really committed to fighting climate change while lifting up our most vulnerable communities. It feels wonderful everyday to wake up and know I am a part of a movement that reflects the diversity of the world we live in.

What was your biggest accomplishment on this campaign?

My biggest accomplishment thus far is really learning how carbon pricing actually works, not just in a theoretical level but in a way that makes sense for our communities. I must admit, it can be very complicated. But with all of the support that CCAN has provided, this journey to understand carbon pricing has been very straightforward and informative! Carbon pricing is the most creative way to tackle two issues of our time: economic justice and climate justice.

Who is your inspiration?

Assata Shakur, my namesake, a personal hero of mine! She was a great community organizer, who used passion as her strategy.

The rally was amazing. Time to say thanks

The rally was amazing. Time to say thanks

Message from Camila Thorndike, Carbon Pricing Coordinator at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network


Holy moly. Last week, nearly 150 PEOPLE turned out to the Wilson Building to call for a price on carbon in DC. We stood alongside Councilmembers Robert White (At-Large), David Grosso (At-Large), and Charles Allen (Ward 6), as well as labor, faith, and justice advocates, who all gave compelling calls to pass this policy. Our movement is truly breaking ground.

Now, we need to amp up the pressure.

Will you send a quick message to your Councilmember encouraging them to introduce a carbon fee-and-rebate policy? Tell them we can’t wait — it’s time to introduce the Climate and Community Reinvestment Act. You’ll also have the opportunity to say thanks to the Councilmembers who came out to last week’s rally.

On Wednesday, SEIU Local 32BJ member Judith Howell shared how pollution from idling trucks filled her apartment and sickened her lungs that very morning, calling for the carbon rebate to clean up the air. Reverend Kip Banks from the East Washington Heights Baptist Church made us laugh with tributes to Beyoncé’s lyrics “put a ring on it” and shout to put a price on pollution if we love Creation. Mike Tidwell of CCAN urged you and I to make this mission part of our daily life until we win. And of course, our champion Councilmembers all spoke passionately about why they are fighting for a carbon rebate in the District. Then we stormed the building to inspire the rest of the Council!

Want to relive the excitement?  Check out the coverage from NPR and teleSUR, and browse this great photo album. And I hope you’ll take a second to read the press release of the Councilmembers’ calls for action and share it with anyone skeptical that we can get this done.

Our vote count estimates are getting mighty exciting. But every one of us needs to push hard until all 13 Councilmembers and Mayor are out there celebrating victory on the front steps.

Take one second right now to send your Councilmembers a message of support for the carbon fee-and-rebate solution.

As NPR reported, “D.C. could become one of the first jurisdictions in the country to put a tax on carbon emissions.” This is because of your focused activism. This is direct democracy in action, my friends–take the high-five and pass it on.

It’s time to advance precedent-setting climate protection and economic justice, right here in the District of Columbia Our proposed carbon fee-and-rebate policy would hold polluters accountable for the costs of climate change, level the playing field for clean energy, and lift up every resident of DC (that’s you!) with frequent carbon rebate checks in your bank account.

Send your Councilmembers a message today! Tell them we can’t wait for strong climate action in D.C.

Thanks for rocking it last week and every day,

Camila

The Climate and Community Reinvestment Act of DC will contribute to a Universal Basic Income

The Climate and Community Reinvestment Act of DC will contribute to a Universal Basic Income

The idea that pollution should be taxed isn’t new. But returning the money to the people impacted—in other words, everyone—is a little more novel.

That’s what our proposal would do. We think polluters should pay. Not only will this penalty drive polluters towards cleaner solutions—it’ll help the rest of us deal with the impacts of climate change.

Three-quarters of the revenue from our carbon tax would be returned directly to residents in the form of a quarterly check. It’s particularly important to us that all residents share in the money raised by this tax.

In that way, our work overlaps with the movement for a universal basic income (UBI). What is a UBI, and what does it have to do with the carbon tax? Sarah Glazer explains in a recent article published in CQ Researcher.

A bipartisan idea

UBI has a long history, endorsed by everyone from 19th-century land-tax advocate Henry George to The Wire writer David Simon. Notably, the idea of a universal basic income has supporters on both sides.

Liberals like it because they think everyone should have a basic, decent standard of living—a floor which a UBI can secure. Conservatives like that the cash transfer doesn’t expand the government as much as a welfare program, and gives recipients the freedom to choose how to spend their receipts.

There are important differences in these motivations and their implications for the conception and implementation of a UBI. But interest has been strong enough for politicians to test the idea; experiments in UBI are currently underway in Utrecht, Netherlands; Nairobi, Kenya; and Ontario, Canada.

But one of the best pieces of evidence for the rebate we will offer has a longer history, and is closer to home. The Alaska Permanent Fund sends a check to Alaskans every year. (As you can imagine, it’s very popular.) Their checks, like ours, will be paid for by fossil fuel revenue.

Our proposal goes a step further. It makes polluters pay for the costs they’ve offloaded onto the rest of us—costs like asthma from air pollution, water damage from flooding, and even, as time goes on, possible impacts like higher food prices or lower economic productivity.     

What it means to our campaign

The rebate is not a universal basic income, but a partial basic income. The money involved is substantial—enough to change people’s lives, if not enough to live on. A typical DC family can expect $500 in first year of our proposal—enough to pay for food for a month, a movie ticket a week, or (almost) a bus trip a day.

Moreover, we’ve made the choice to send more money to low-income residents and households. While not a feature of all UBI programs, this is in keeping with three key principles of our coalition: the poor have:

  1. Borne the brunt of pollution to date
  2. Will bear the brunt of climate impacts
  3. Are least resourced to deal with both 1) and 2).

It’s also a practical consideration: poorer households must pay a greater share of their income towards energy bills. The higher rebates should shield them if energy companies pass those costs on.

We are excited for the chance to give back to people. Some of the revenue from our proposal will go to green infrastructure investments and local businesses . But the rebate is at the heart of our proposal—it’s democratic, it’s equitable, and it will help people.

That’s what this is all about, right?

 

  • Hayden Higgins, DC Divest

Reflecting on a Summer of Organizing for a Carbon Price in DC

Reflecting on a Summer of Organizing for a Carbon Price in DC

Written By Danniele Fulmer, former summer intern for CCAN’s Price It D.C. campaign and current Executive Assistant

What happens when you put four young college students and recent graduates together for a summer of organizing? You get a dynamic and versatile team of advocates with a strong pool of talents and interests, ranging from English to Environmental Policy, Economics, and Social Justice Organizing.

I got to experience this phenomenon firsthand with Andrew, Maria, and Olivia, during my summer as one of the four interns working on the D.C. Put A Price On It campaign.

On a personal note, I moved to D.C. after spending a year in Vermont at graduate school and had very little experience in the city. Working on this campaign exposed me to a completely new side of D.C., outside of the traditional tourist attractions and historical monuments. I got to experience the authentic flavor of the District’s booming neighborhoods, many of which I had never heard of or visited before. It feels nearly impossible to dive into the details of everything we accomplished this summer, but I think it’s worth covering some of the most prominent highlights!

Our summer working on Put A Price On It D.C. kickstarted with a visit to the John Wilson Building to do a “lit drop” of a Washington Post editorial that came out in support of carbon pricing as a climate solution.  This is where you go door to door to each councilmember’s office to drop off “literature” and talk about the campaign with the legislators’ staffers — or even the councilmembers themselves, if you catch them at the right time. It provided a wonderful opportunity for us to meet some of the staffers and councilmembers face to face while pitching the campaign!

From that point, myself and the three other interns, Andrew, Maria, and Olivia took to the streets to educate residents about the policy by canvassing across the District. We talked to residents from across the city, including everyone from native Washingtonians to students attending university in D.C.  Canvassing can be hard work at times, but I have to admit that some of the most memorable moments from the summer were from the time I spent talking to D.C. residents. I engaged in some of the most authentic and candid conversations with residents about climate change, justice, and the quirks of the city.

The tedious work of petitioning in the above average heat this summer was made more than worth it by the supportive words and thank-yous we received from residents. By the end of the summer, through visiting neighborhoods, metro stops, and attending events across the city, the four of us  collected over 800 petitions from D.C. residents!

Later in the summer, we gained practical advocacy experience by attending a public hearing with Councilmember Mary Cheh. I had the great pleasure of preparing and offering testimony at the hearing in support of the campaign, a first for me. It allowed me to apply my past education in communications and advocacy in a practical real world environment.

Overall, I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish over the past few months as interns on the D.C. campaign. Further, I’m excited to see where our futures take us. Something tells me that the four of us will cross paths in the future. It’s just the nature of this work! Successful advocates know that building lasting relationships is the key to powerful campaigns and coalitions. I hope that we’ll all be able to contribute to each other’s work in the future in one capacity or another. At the very least, we will all be able to look back on our summer as interns for the Price It D.C. campaign and reflect on the key advocacy and organizing skills we developed… And cheer with gusto when The Climate and Community Reinvestment Act is passed by the D.C. Council!

The Pursuit of Climate and Social Justice Through Carbon Pricing

The Pursuit of Climate and Social Justice Through Carbon Pricing

Written By Danniele Fulmer, former summer intern for CCAN’s Price It D.C. campaign and current Executive Assistant

What is environmental justice? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

Unfortunately, the pursuit of environmental and social justice has been an uphill battle. Harmful environmental practices have taken place disproportionately in low-income communities of color for years — even decades — putting these communities on the front lines of pollution and climate change.

A prime example of this is gentrification of cities, which tailors to the tastes of the upper middle class and pushes low-income residents to the curb. Income inequality between the rich and poor looms as another related and potent issue. In the landmark report “Toxic Waste and Race in the United States,” it was found that race was the predicting factor for waste siting more frequently than income. To add another layer of complication, climate change threatens to exacerbate these issues of injustice.

This particularly concerning in the District of Columbia, one of the most clearly segregated cities in the United States, as highlighted by the Washington Post in 2015. Further, according to a report released by the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, income inequality in the District ranks fourth among the fifty largest cities in the United States. To break it down further, the richest 5 percent of Washingtonians make roughly fifty nine times what the poorest 20 percent make. Perhaps more relevant to this discussion, the study also found that D.C.’s lowest-income residents are primarily people of color.

It may come as no surprise that environmental and economic policies have the potential to become regressive, impacting lower income communities disproportionately. Developing policies that take justice issues into consideration is more important than ever. With this in mind, it is critical that the environmental policies that we pursue within the District serve all residents, regardless of race and socioeconomic status.

Luckily, the Healthy Community and Climate Reinvestment Act of D.C. plans to do just that by placing a fee on carbon emissions and rebating 75 percent of the collected revenue back to residents. At its core, this legislation is an effort to curb carbon emissions that contribute to global climate change. However, the fee and rebate model being employed has the potential to correct some other critical injustices occurring in the District as well. In particular, low income residents would see a rebate of about four dollars to every one dollar that they pay through the carbon fee, taking a step toward leveling the playing field between the highest and lowest income residents in D.C.

At the end of the day, climate change is the single issue that unites us all. Put A Price On It D.C.’s progressive approach to address climate change has a unique social justice flavor that is critical in today’s fight for a healthy climate and community.

Landmark Study Finds Carbon Fee-And-Rebate Policy Would Boost D.C. Businesses, Families, and Economy

Landmark Study Finds Carbon Fee-And-Rebate Policy Would Boost D.C. Businesses, Families, and Economy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, July 27, a new draft study detailed how a carbon fee-and-rebate policy would benefit the local economy of Washington, DC. According to the study’s findings, the policy — being proposed by the “Put A Price On It, D.C.” coalition — can effectively reduce carbon emissions in the District while maintaining economic growth and job creation, and putting more money in the pockets of DC residents.

The independent analysis, titled “Assessing Economic Impacts of a Carbon Fee & Dividend for DC,” was carried out by the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) and shared at an event hosted by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI). The draft study found that the policy would result in a steady boost in jobs — particularly in the construction sector — and stable economic growth, while reducing planet-warming carbon emissions 23 percent by 2032 for electricity, natural gas, and home-heating oil consumed in the District. Transportation emissions also fall under this examined policy.

Roger Horowitz, Co-Founder of Pleasant Pops, stated: “With the carbon fee-and-rebate policy, DC has the opportunity to become a national leader on climate action in a way that is equitable and just — and good for our business. Putting a price on global warming pollution and rebating the revenue to families will keep our business going and improve the health of our community.”

“Zenful Bites is proud to be part of the ‘Put a Price on It D.C.’ coalition. This policy will expand our customer base and make our city a healthier, safer place to live. We’re happy to help move this campaign forward for a more sustainable economy,” said Josephine Chu, Co-Founder of Zenful Bites.

The study modeled the indirect and induced changes that occur throughout all sectors of the DC economy as businesses, households and the government respond – not only to the fee itself, but also to the newfound money available from the return of that fee every month. The analysis projects that, by 2032, the policy would generate a rebate of $170 per month for the average family of four and $294 per month for a low-income family of four. This gradually rising rebate would increase residents’ support, thereby increasing the policy’s durability.

“We support this because it would spur companies like ours to dramatically increase their investments in clean energy, while leaving more money in the pockets of DC residents to reinvest in local businesses, restaurants and services,” said Tom Matzzie, Founder and CEO of CleanChoice Energy.

The proposed policy would redirect a portion of the revenue raised as tax relief to small businesses. This will total $30 million per year by 2032, thus enhancing the ability of local businesses to remain competitive in the region and to maintain a permanent and robust presence in the city.

“The numbers clearly show that a carbon fee-and-rebate policy is not only the best option to reduce D.C. carbon emissions, but also a sound mechanism for growing a robust economy powered by clean energy,” said Mishal Thadani, Co-Founder of District Solar. “This policy is simple, fair for every stakeholder, and will ultimately attract many new and innovative companies to the District.”

D.C. Residents to Take Action at City Hall During Peoples Climate March to Advance Local Climate Justice Campaigns

D.C. Residents to Take Action at City Hall During Peoples Climate March to Advance Local Climate Justice Campaigns

Tens of Thousands Will Call on D.C. City Council to Cut Ties with Wells Fargo and Put a Price on Carbon, as They Pass John A. Wilson Building During March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice

WASHINGTON — On April 29 during the Peoples Climate March, two D.C.-based climate justice campaigns will engage tens of thousands marching down Pennsylvania Ave. past the John A. Wilson Building to call on D.C. City Councilmembers to support two related campaigns for climate justice. One campaign, led by 24 local organizations in the “Put A Price On It D.C.” Coalition, aims to place a fee on carbon emissions and equitably rebate the revenue back to D.C. residents. The other, led by the D.C. ReInvest Coalition, is advocating for D.C. to divest city funds from Wells Fargo over its investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline. Volunteers will display banners on the steps of City Hall, lead chants and speeches, and distribute flyers giving marchers instructions to take action.

The action will take place during the highly-anticipated March for Climate, Jobs and Justice, where tens of thousands of climate justice activists will march against Donald Trump and his climate science-denying cabinet. D.C. ReInvest Coalition and the Put a Price on It D.C. Coalition are joining forces to ensure that this national mobilization remains rooted in local campaigns for climate justice and propels its host city forward. Continue reading