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.”