Bipartisan hope on climate change

 

To the Editor:

As partisan tensions ratchet up in Washington, D.C., there’s still hope that progress can be made on the pressing problems of the day. It appears Republicans and Democrats are coming together on one issue that seemed intractable not long ago: climate change.

Public opinion has reached a tipping point that cannot be ignored. A CBS News poll last month found two-thirds of Americans view climate change as a crisis or serious problem, and a majority want immediate action.

Overwhelming majorities of younger GOP voters regard climate change as a serious threat, too: 77 percent of them said so in a survey by Ipsos and Newsy this fall.

It’s not just polling motivating Congress – it’s citizens. Volunteers with Citizens’ Climate Lobby have held 1,131 meetings with congressional offices so far this year, and are carrying a clear message to their representatives: “Make climate a bridge issue, not a wedge issue.”

A new bipartisan climate solutions group in the Senate complements the Climate Solutions Caucus in the House, a judgment-free zone where members of both parties come together for serious discussions about solving climate change. Today, there are myriad bipartisan climate bills in the House, thanks to the collaborative atmosphere the caucus created.

Now that we have Republicans and Democrats talking to each other about climate solutions, what major climate legislation will they support together?

A price on carbon offers promising common ground. Thousands of U.S. economists support carbon pricing as an effective tool to reduce emissions quickly. Newsweek recently surveyed 300 multinational corporations and found that 95 percent favor mandatory carbon pricing. And according to Luntz Global, carbon pricing that includes a revenue return to Americans, has four to one support among all voters.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) is attracting broad support, with 66 House members now signed on, including Republican Francis Rooney of Florida. This legislation would initiate a fee per metric ton of carbon, rising gradually each year. All revenue would be paid out equally to every household. In 10 years, a family of four would receive an annual “carbon dividend” of about $3,500. Resources for the Future estimates this policy would reduce carbon emissions 47 percent by 2030. The bill targets 90 percent reductions by 2050.

Here in Sylva, support for this legislation has been expressed with over 200 constituent letters and a 2017 resolution calling for a statewide commitment to eliminate fossil fuels. That support, here and throughout the country, sends a signal that backing H.R. 763 can be a politically astute move.

Elected officials are realizing that climate change is one area where differences must be set aside for the good of our nation and the world. Not only are they realizing it, they’re starting to act on it.

Erin McCully and 

Mark Reynolds, Sylva

Reynolds is executive director of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. McCully is the chapter leader of the Western North Carolina chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

 

U.S. withdrawal a breach of trust

 

To the Editor:

In response to Dave Waldrop’s letter of Oct. 17 regarding who can trust America now, I feel compelled to answer.

A military rationale for Donald Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria? None. (Campaign promise my eye). A political reason? Distraction from impeachment proceedings. A moral justification? I actually had to cross out my answer on this one due to fear of backlash. Perhaps I will be stronger soon. From whom did he ask advice? From the demons who advise him? Telephone calls for advice? None necessary. A stroke of the pen and a shrug of his shoulders will do. Who is to blame? Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Where does blame lie? See previous question and answer. The hand of God? Somebody’s God but not mine (Franklin Graham is not Billy, let’s be clear about that). Who can America trust now?

Time to watch our backs, Russia’s coming (again). Who can trust America now? No one, not for one and a quarter more years.

Marian Garrett,

Sylva

 

Restore harmony, unity to Forest Hills 

 

To the Editor:

We have been residents of Forest Hills since 1988 and along with most of our fellow residents, felt relief when Forest Hills incorporated into a municipality in 1997. The primary concern has always been that the likely growth of Western Carolina University could dramatically impact our neighborhood. Forest Hills has been a family-oriented community, where the residents enjoyed a peaceful, safe and child-friendly environment. Naturally our community would want to retain this safe, family neighborhood.

This has been a common bond in our community throughout the years. What is so perplexing to the majority of the residents of Forest Hills, according to the recent petition, is the direction that the current board has taken, which appears set to move forward with plans to change the zoning code that will allow development, including high-density student housing. One can easily foresee the impact of a sharp rise in a college-age population on our small residential community. The huge wake-up call came when the development at the entrance to Forest Hills began. Almost all of the residents were stunned by this development. Of course, we were all surprised except the current board, who could have interceded on our behalf and probably prevented it.

In 1998 an ordinance was prepared and endorsed by the planning board and the village board that would regulate future land subdivisions within the village. The ordinance proposal stated and, I quote planning board Chair Larry Kolenbrander, “the subdivision ordinance is proposed to further the orderly layout and appropriate use of the land and to eliminate unsafe or unsanitary conditions arising from undue concentration of population” (emphasis added). That board approved the ordinance at their next meeting.

The current board appears to have taken a huge turn from this original mandate. One board member has repeatedly stated, “the citizens of Forest Hill should’ve attended the board meetings so they could’ve spoken up.” The response from many residents to that disrespectful and pious remark is that it was understood that we all felt committed to the original mandate which was to maintain a family and child-friendly community. We felt safe in that trust and assumed that we were unified in this endeavor.

This change of direction for our community’s development runs in opposition to its original ideals. Many residents of Forest Hills believed that our elected officials were qualified to lead and represent us. Currently, and sadly, there is a sense of deep frustration and concern among many of our neighbors. Quite honestly, the word we most commonly hear among our neighbors is “betrayed.”

With the upcoming election, we are hopeful that the folks in Forest Hills will turn out and vote their hearts in a way that will restore harmony and unity to our community. After all, we are a community of neighbors and I am quite certain that we all desire to live together in neighborly friendship, care and concern for one another, enjoying the blessings of peace, safety and family.

Dolphus and Elaine Brown,

Forest Hills