Delivering on a promise
Afew weeks ago, I took part in an activity that lifted my faith in the American democratic process. The event was the Climate Change Rally Day sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
I joined my colleagues from other states in delivering on a promise made at countless annual meetings, community festivals, fairs, church suppers, sporting events and the Tour of Missouri bike race.
At those events and through the pages of this publication, thousands of you signed cards to Missouri’s senators urging them to protect electric rates as they deal with climate change legislation. I was proud to deliver those letters to Sen. Kit Bond and Sen. Claire McCaskill during the rally.
And what a sight that was, seeing the thousands of postcards hauled into those Capitol Hill offices! It took 14 boxes to deliver the nearly 60,000 postcards, 30,000 to each senator. We wheeled them in, and at the senators’ request, dumped them in a huge pile on their tables.
Sen. Bond thanked us for emphasizing what he has been telling his Senate counterparts during debate on this bill — that his constituents are against climate change provisions passed this summer by the House, and that they like the Senate’s version even less.
Sen. McCaskill, who immediately spotted a letter from someone she knew in the pile of cards, told us she is not convinced that cap-and-trade legislation is the right way to deal with climate change issues. She is concerned with creating another market that could cause as many problems as the recent financial meltdown the country has experienced.
And she firmly believes Congress needs to put pressure on China and India to do their part in reducing emissions. “I want us to lead the world in climate change, but I don’t want us to be suckers.”
Besides the mountain of postcards, we also delivered to the senators a study done by those who supply the electricity Missouri consumers use in their homes and businesses. This study shows electric rates could rise as much as 77 percent under the Waxman-Markey bill passed by the House this summer.
Thanks to all of you who signed those cards and went online to send messages to Congress through the Our Energy, Our Future campaign (www.ourenergy.coop). Because of your willingness to get involved, electric cooperatives have a seat at the table in this debate and the attention of the entire Missouri congressional delegation. In fact, Sen. Bond has asked me to testify before the Senate committee that is debating this legislation.
Because we are part of the dialogue, we can speak to our elected officials on the need to ensure any legislation passed will be fair, affordable and still let us supply reliable electricity to consumers. During our visit, we left them with another promise: If the Senate bill does not protect our members and keep electricity affordable and reliable, we will be asking you to contact them to vote against it.
Together, electric co-op members number more than 40 million. That’s a powerful and loud grassroots voice when it gets mobilized. Please keep yourself educated on this issue and if the need arises, make that call. As Glenn English, CEO of our national association puts it, this is just the beginning of the campaign to protect your interest in affordable electricity.
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.