Update on PennEnvironment’s largest virtual citizen lobby day!
I wanted to write and give an update on our recent annual citizen environmental lobby day, and how we were able to pull off this event during the pandemic and the stay-at-home order.
The good news is that our first-ever virtual citizen climate lobby day was a huge success: all told, we had nearly 450 PennEnvironment members and activists participate in nearly 100 meetings with their local state representatives and senators over the course of the day on June 16th. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest virtual lobby day ever held with members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
Given the size and scale of our citizen lobby day for the environment, the event also received positive news coverage from the state’s capitol news outlet PennLive (which has a monthly reach of over 4 million readers), as well as the Bucks County Herald, and KYW-TV Philadelphia. At least seven Letters to the editor from constituents published in papers across the state, including in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Allentown Morning Call, and the Centre Daily Times.
Concerned citizens met with their state senators and representatives to ask them to support policies to help reduce the state’s climate pollution, including supporting Gov. Wolf’s proposal to have Pennsylvania join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), policies to promote electric vehicles, and legislation to require Pennsylvania to achieve 100% renewable energy statewide by 2050.
When the dust settled on our virtual citizen lobby day, attendees had convinced 55 state legislators to support Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI and oppose attacks on this program that may arise in the General Assembly. In addition, 4 new legislators added their names as cosponsors to PennEnvironment-drafted legislation to get the state to 100% renewable energy (increasing our current total number of cosponsors to 104); and 15 more senators and representatives said that they would go back to their leadership and ask them to pass pending electric vehicles legislation before the session ends in November.
In an effort to make it a full Lobby Day, our staff also planned and hosted webinars, panels, and trainings throughout the day to educate attendees about solar, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and climate advocacy and activism. This culminated in our rally for climate action where we were joined by several climate leaders in the state legislature, including State Senator Katie Muth and State Representatives Chris Rabb, Malcolm Kenyatta, Jen O’Mara, and Wendy Ullman; clean energy experts like Kevin Warren of Warren Energy Engineering; faith leaders like John Creasy, Pastor for The Open Door in Pittsburgh; pediatricians like Gabriel Cisneros and Maya Ragavan with American Academy of Pediatrics; fellow advocates and activists, like Caia and Zada, two Philly elementary school students and members of Kids Clean Air Force; and 150 Pennsylvanians, all joining together to make their voices heard for bold climate action.
Overall, we accomplished A LOT over the course of an 8-hour day!
As you can imagine, choosing to move ahead with our annual citizen lobby day and figuring out how to ensure a successful event wasn’t easy. In the face of the pandemic and the stay-at-home order, PennEnvironment’s staff had to do some real soul searching and decide if we would cancel this year’s citizen lobby day or attempt to find a way to run it successfully and at the size and scale of past years. I’m incredibly proud of their decision to move full steam ahead, and turn our annual lobby day into PennEnvironment’s first “virtual” lobby day for our participating members and volunteers. They rose to the occasion and made the event an incredibly successful day of civic engagement and activism for our planet.
Executive Director, PennEnvironment
Started on staff: 1994 B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison As executive director, David spearheads the issue advocacy, civic engagement campaigns, and long-term organizational building for PennEnvironment. He also oversees PennPIRG and other organizations within The Public Interest Network that are engaged in social change across Pennsylvania. David’s areas of expertise include fracking, global warming, environmental enforcement and litigation, and clean energy and land use policy in Pennsylvania. David has served on the environmental transition teams for Gov. Tom Wolf and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. Under David’s leadership, PennEnvironment has won the two largest citizen suit penalties in Pennsylvania history against illegal polluters under the federal Clean Water Act and the largest citizen suit penalty under the federal Clean Air Act in state history.