Peter Garrett has been going to Washington, D.C., since 2014, promoting the benefits of a Carbon Fee and Dividend Policy.

The Winslow man is headed back again this year, taking 1,500 Mainers with him to discuss a resolution that would impose a fee on fuels that produce greenhouse gases with members of Congress. Garrett is the coordinator of Maine’s chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, an advocacy organization focused on climate change, which created the policy.

When confronted with people who don’t share his urgency about climate change, he uses metaphors — such as you might be a good driver, but you still have car insurance — to drive his point home.

“I’m not going to give up,” said Garrett, who is 75. “This is what I’ve committed the rest of my life to.”

The Maine contingent plans to meet with about 500 congressional officials on Tuesday in Washington, to ask questions about the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019.

The bill would “create a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund … to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy,” according to the bill text. It imposes a fee on the carbon content of fuels, such as crude oil, natural gas, coal or any product derived from those fuels.

The fee, which would be imposed on the producers and importers of the fuels, is equal to the greenhouse gas content in tons of the fuel, multiplied by the carbon fee rate. The rate begins at $15 per ton and increases by $10 each year. The money collected from the fee would go back to U.S. citizens; those who would benefit the most would be people with smaller than average carbon footprints.

The act, which has 40 co-sponsors sponsors from 16 states, is projected to help reduce carbon pollution by up to 45% by 2030, and more than 90% by 2050, according to a news release by Ted Deutch, a Florida congressman. Garrett noted it is the first bipartisan climate change bill introduced in Congress for the better part of a decade.

The only Republican to co-sponsor it, as of Wednesday, is Francis Rooney, from Florida.

Peter Monro, of Portland, said the Citizens’ Climate Lobby has about 120,000 volunteers nationwide. In the last year, the group met with about 1,600 members of Congress or their senior staffers. He said the CCL would work to get more Republican co-sponsors for the bill.

Monro joined the Citizen’s Climate Lobby because the organization is focused on the federal level.

“They were laser-focused on Congress,” said Monro, who is a co-leader in lobbying.

Another Mainer traveling to Washington is Melanie Lanctot, of Readfield, making her first trip there to lobby for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

The retired data analyst has been an environmentalist since the first Earth Day in 1970. Lanctot said she doesn’t know whether the bill will be able to get through Congress.

“I’ve been trying for 10 years,” she said, “but we have to keep trying.”

Garrett, who has a bachelor’s degree in geology and a doctoral degree in earth and planetary science, said his interest in climate issues started when he moved to Maine 40 years ago. He said he wanted to build a passive solar-powered house, so he began looking at the weather.

Nina Trowbridge, of Cape Elizabeth, is traveling to Washington with her two sons, who are 14 and 15 years old.

“I’m only 14 years old, but I don’t want climate change to affect my whole life,” Robert Trowbridge said.

Philip Osgood, another Mainer going to Washington, said he has been concerned for many years, but at 69 years old, it was time to act.

“It has to be focused on federal and international levels,” he said.

After the lobbying, Osgood is going to American University for a “Climate Policy Camp” to learn more about climate change policy.

Monro stressed the urgency of pushing Congress to action, saying there are only about six months to get the bill through, because members then will start focusing on campaigning.

“I feel the weight,” he said. “It’s very daunting.”

On the same day the group is in Washington, there will be a meeting June 11 in Waterville to thank U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree for cosponsoring the bill.


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