Never underestimate the power of the phone

J.P. Leous

Usually a beehive of well-dressed, black-berried staffers, reporters and lobbyists, Capitol Hill was noticeably calmer last week. Many Congressional staffers came to work in jeans, flip flops and other small but significant signals that August recess is upon us.

Amid this calm before the storm of the fall legislative calendar, one drumbeat was consistent as I visited office after office last week in my role as policy advisor for climate change for The Wilderness Society: the phones have not stopped ringing.

I would expect a fair number of calls to be flowing in as folks around the country react to the media coverage on the health care debate and town hall disruptions. To my surprise, many calls continue to focus on the energy bill passed by the House in late June (H.R. 2454) and the expected Senate action on jobs, energy and climate change.

It is obvious to both the casual listener and the experienced administrative assistants answering these calls that many on the other end of the line are calling at the request of conservative TV and radio show hosts, or otherwise infused with and confused by the massive misinformation campaign that well-funded special interests have wielded on changing the polluting and inequitable status-quo.

Whatever your feelings about the House-passed energy bill, we must keep up the great work ensuring our vision of a cleaner, healthier economy is heard loud and clear if we have any chance at affecting the change we need.

Don’t think your call matters? Think again. I have not been in a meeting with Hill staff (both House and Senate sides) in the past three months where the number of calls for and against energy, jobs and climate legislation hasn’t come up. Believe it or not, the nice people who answer the phones in Congressional offices have spreadsheets where they log your support for or against a given issue — and they tally them at the end of every week and send the results up the flagpole.

If we are going to get the energy/jobs bill we want and our planet needs, everyone who cares about this issue must step up and get involved. We need a consistent drumbeat of calls in to the Senate demanding a strong energy, jobs and climate bill — now. Call today, and ask your friends and family to do the same. Then, call next week and the week after that. Call every week until we get the bill we need to move us away from the climate cliff and closer to the clean energy economy our country needs and upon which our children rely.

If you don’t your senator’s number you can call (202) 224-3121 and ask for his/ her office, and you’ll be patched through. This simple two minute call will leave you feeling good, help protect our planet and jumpstart our economy — and keep those staffers in jeans and flip-flops busy while their bosses are out of town.

If you need talking points, feel free to use these:

I am calling to ask the senator to support a strong clean energy jobs bill when it comes before the Senate this fall.

A strong bill will:

  • Reduce global warming pollution;
  • Make polluters pay for the costs of dumping carbon pollution into the air;
  • Create a whole new clean energy industry and the businesses and jobs to support it; and
  • Protect the natural resources upon which life depends.

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