Nine activists met with brand-new Massachusetts Senator Cindy Friedman today. Three of us are JCAN supporters, along with other affiliations, and the meeting was organized by 350ma. I think there are lessons here for all us.
Friedman comes from a district that reliably elects very progressive representatives, and she was supportive of all our issues. Her one real question was the effect of carbon pricing on lower-income people who live in parts of the state without access to public transportation. A couple of the activists said that they think the carbon pricing bills make special allowances for that situation.
Although Friedman understands that the climate is an important issue, and even indicated that she saw it as existential, it is not something she deals with daily. We asked her what she knew about other senators and their opinions, and she answered that she hasn't talked about the climate with them.
This is typical of what we face in fixing the deep dependence we all have on fossil fuels. Even among legislators who know the facts and figures about the climate, they are not making it a priority. Massachusetts went so far as to set goals concerning reduced emissions (the Global Warming Solutions Act) and then blithely let itself slip behind its own targets. Meetings like the one we had today are crucial to keeping the pressure on.