The Citizens' Climate Lobby sttate-wide meeting promotional graphic
The Citizens' Climate Lobby recently hosted a meeting and discussed Nebraska's support for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019. Graphic courtesy of Citizens Climate Lobby-Omaha

During its first statewide meeting, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby announced that members recently started a monthly calling campaign to urge Nebraska’ U.S. congressional representatives to back a bill that would reduce deadly greenhouse gas emissions.

About 45 people attended the Zoom video conference on Saturday, Oct. 10 that featured updates from the lobby’s four Nebraska chapters – Lincoln, Omaha, Bellevue and Chadron. The organization is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy group that focuses on climate change legislation.

The group has 1,790 supporters across Nebraska trying to get the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 passed. The bill, introduced by Rep. Theodore E. Deutch (Florida) last January, would impose a fee on producers or importers of fuels that create greenhouse gases. These fees would then be paid to U.S. citizens as dividends on a monthly basis.

The Citizens’ Climate Lobby  – aka CCL – first sparked interest in Nebraska eight years ago, when the lobby’s executive director Mark Reynolds gave the keynote at the 2012 Annual Peace Conference. Reynolds led an afternoon breakout session focused on creating chapters in each of Nebraska’s three congressional districts. 

That inspired Mark Welsch to co-found the Omaha chapter. In an email interview, Welsch said starting a chapter was a simple process: a few people agree to meet monthly and learn how CCL works. Within a day, the first three Nebraska chapters were formed: Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha.

Welsch said CCL’s focus on getting the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act passed and having fees on fossil fuels paid back to the people of the United States had him hooked. 

“The passage of this one bill will cause a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by at least 40% in 12 years,” he said. “It will cause many new paying jobs to be created. It will improve the health of everyone in the United States because less dirty fuel will be burned to pollute our air, land and water, and us.”

If the U.S. passed the bill into law, other countries would need to follow suit, Welsch said. If they don’t have the same policy, importers will have to pay an extra border adjustment. That’s one of the most important parts of the bill, he said. Another important part was the bill’s bipartisan support.

Though Welsh’s group has good relationships with both Republican and Democrats, Welsch said he wants more fellow Republicans to become active chapter members.