Episode #54: The state that’s not a state is a hell of a lot greener than your state (transcript)
Quinn: Welcome to Important, Not Important. My name is Quinn Emmett.
Brian: And I'm Brian Colbert Kennedy.
Quinn: And this is the podcast where we dive into a specific topic or question that affects everyone including you, everybody on the planet right now, or in the next 10 years or so. If it can kill us or turn us into crisper robots, we are in. Our guests are scientists, doctors, engineers, politicians, astronauts, even a reverend. We work together toward action steps our listeners can take with their voice, their vote, and their dollar.
Brian: Also, this is your evergreen reminder that you can send us questions or thoughts or feedback. You can do it on Twitter @importantnotimp or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quinn: That's right. Hit us up. This week's episode is the state that's not a state is a hell of a lot greener than your state.
Brian: Nice. Love this episode. Our guest is Jamie DeMarco, he's a state level carbon pricing coordinator with the Citizens' Climate Lobby, the group we've talked with before, who's just out there saving our collective asses every single day, no big deal.
Brian: Jamie is dedicated to passing state level legislation that will serve as a model and inspiration for national lawmakers and I'll stop talking now.
Quinn: Yeah, and that's just such a gentle way of putting it, right? Passing state level legislation will serve as a model and inspiration for national lawmakers. Like hey, just get your fucking shit together.
Quinn: Look at us out here. Doing it. Knocking it out.
Brian: Pretty impressive.
Quinn: And what are they doing? They're like you know what we should do? Poison more babies.
Brian: Ugh. No.
Quinn: Let's poison some more babies. Hey Jeff, what's the thing that poisons the babies that we all want? What's that thing? Can we put that ... We can put that back? Let's poison some more babies.
Brian: I don't wanna poison ... I don't think we ... It's a bad idea.
Quinn: Right. I don't think ... I mean Jamie would never poison a baby, right?
Brian: No, he's a sweet man. Hard working.
Quinn: He seems like a pretty sweet man.
Quinn: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Leader. Leader among men, and women, and people who don't identify as any of those things, or all of those things.
Brian: all of the people.
Quinn: We're open to all of them, as long as we save the planet, we'll take it.
Brian: Seriously, do whatever. I just wanna have my planet to live on.
Quinn: I genuinely do not care. All right, let's go talk to Jamie.
Brian: All right.
Quinn: Our guest today is Jamie DeMarco and together we're gonna talk about the state that's not a state is greener than your state. Jamie, welcome.
Jamie DeMarco: Hey, thanks very much for having me.
Brian: We're very happy to have you. Let's get started by just go ahead and tell us who you are and what you do.
Jamie DeMarco: My name is Jamie DeMarco. I work at the Citizens' Climate Lobby and I help states advance just and effective climate policies.
Quinn: Sounds pretty good to me.
Brian: Yeah. That seems all right.
Quinn: I think so too. Jamie, why don't you give us the 30 second version of how you got into that and how you found yourself in DC?
Jamie DeMarco: Well you know, like a lot of people, I've cared a lot for a long time and years ago, back when I was still in college, I got so fed up with everything and the climate and our use of fossil fuels that I decided not to be part of the problem anymore and I actually quit riding in cars for about two years.
Jamie DeMarco: For two years, I was riding bikes. I would take public transportation. I would make very occasional exceptions for Thanksgiving. But other than that, no cars, for years. And it was really hard and strained a lot of my relationships. But I felt it was important. And then I started volunteering with a campaign down in Asheville, North Carolina to close the Asheville coal plant.
Brian: [crosstalk 00:03:32].
Jamie DeMarco: And that's part of a larger Beyond Coal campaign that is I think has secured retirement of about 250 or about half of the US coal fleet.
Quinn: That's amazing.
Jamie DeMarco: I started wondering to myself, if all these people who did this work and made this happen had ridden their bikes instead of organizing, then how many more coal plants would be operational today. And that's when I decided to stop making my goal to not be part of the problem and I started making my goal to be part of the solution and I got back in the car and I've been organizing ever since.
Quinn: Man, I really like that. There is a difference between the two. Saying I'm not gonna be part of the problem anymore, and I'm gonna be part of the solution.
Brian: Huge difference.
Quinn: But that's not to say that one is worse than the other, it's just that there are degrees of participating, and solving this thing, and taking this thing on. It's like anything. It's like acknowledging you have a shitty boyfriend or girlfriend. Start to recognize the red flags, acknowledge them, maybe publicly, like you said, start to tell people I only ride my bike. And then start to not participate in them anymore, and then you move to being proactive about it and saying what can I actually do about this on a micro scale, on a macro scale, on a grander scale, which is getting into policy. 'Cause, as much as we talk about it today, and this is why we like to get and build to specific places where people can have an effect with their voice, their vote, and their dollar. We really do get specific, like literally what is the URL to send people to.
Quinn: It's really hard for people to, again like we were saying offline, listen to a podcast about climate change or about clean energy or about antibiotics, and for them to listen and go, great what the fuck do I do about that because as many people as have gotten engaged maybe for the first time in their life in the past couple years, cough cough white people. It's hard. it's a leap. Just like saying I'm gonna become someone who meditates, everybody knows the bad way to build a habit is to say I'm gonna start by meditating 45 minutes a day. No you're fucking not.
Quinn: No one does that. You start by meditating one minute a day. And start to do those. I really like how you dialed into and talked about, well I started this way and then I build to that.
Brian: I think that's pretty important because a lot of people don't do that, and they just try to go to the big thing first and fail. Then you feel like you didn't do a good job and you give up and you don't continue down that path. Where if you just would've started small, took the baby steps, then you would've gotten somewhere. It's pretty important I think.
Jamie DeMarco: And we're all on our own journey and we all have our part to play.
Quinn: Absolutely, and there are certainly guidelines from people who have been there before and don't these things. Again, whatever the mission is that you're finding yourself on or you're exploring taking on. So there are guideposts that can help you align yourself, but you don't have to just jump into it and go drive down to Asheville and fight for a coal [crosstalk 00:06:42].
Brian: I mean that's great.
Quinn: If you wanna fucking do that, awesome.
Brian: Do it.
Quinn: Just saying we get it.
Jamie DeMarco: It's beautiful down there.
Quinn: It is. It is pretty incredible down there. I ran a Spartan race down there last year.
Quinn: That was beautiful and terrible at the same time.
Jamie DeMarco: A beautiful kind of pain.
Quinn: Yup. Yup. Yup. That's what I'm in for. Awesome.
Brian: Groovy. Reminder to everyone, what we do on the show is provide context for our question or our topic of the day and then we dig into action oriented questions that will make everybody give a shit and wanna do something about it. And that's it.
Quinn: Yeah. Rock and roll. So Jamie, we do start with one important question to really set the tone for this fiasco. Instead of saying tell us your life story in full, we like to ask Jamie, why are vital to the survival of the species?
Quinn: Be bold here. Be bold here.
Jamie DeMarco: The truth is, you're not gonna like this boldless answer.
Jamie DeMarco: But I am not. I could be hit by a bus tomorrow and it wouldn't change the course of the climate movement. And I think that's beautiful. I think our movement is beautiful because it is distributed. We are leaderful. We're not relying on any one person anywhere or any one person to tell us what to do. We're trying to move from a grid where we have big coal plants, big gas plants that are creating a lot of electricity and giving that to everybody else to sort of point and distribute to a grid where we have thousands, thousands like a starscape of solar panels and windmills all across the country, and people are empowering each other. I think that's sort of a metaphor for the way done from a leader who everyone knows, who sort of gives power to everyone else to a movement where there's a web of people empowering each other.
Quinn: I love the way you just compared yourself to a decentralized [crosstalk 00:08:37] Brooklyn community shared solar setup and I think it's fucking awesome man.
Jamie DeMarco: Nerdy and poetic.
Quinn: But like you said, if you go down, which again, no one here is hoping that Jamie goes down.
Brian: Please don't get hit by a bus.
Quinn: But if in Virginia, if the Surry nuclear plant goes down, bunch of shit goes bad. But if one solar power goes down, then if it's built well, then people still have some power. That's the goal.
Jamie DeMarco: It's about resiliency.
Quinn: I like that. I like that a lot. So let's set up some context for today's chat.
Brian: Let's do it.
Quinn: Again, you expressed the desire to get wonky, so this is gonna hopefully set that up a little bit. Brian is our anti wonk, and so Brian, stop and ask questions.
Brian: I just don't think we've used anti wonk before, but I like it.
Quinn: It might become a new t-shirt. All right, so here's the deal folks. Renewable portfolio standards, RPS, the portfolio of how a state creates its energy, require utilities to ensure that a percentage or a specified amount, a raw amount, of the electricity that they sell comes from renewable resources. In the past, it probably was, just all oil, or all coal, or a mix of them. Now these things are diversifying in a lot of places and they're very different in very different places across the country.
Brian: So they're like state by state?
Quinn: Yes. It's state by state. There's a few main grids in the country. And then there's places like Texas that has their own. But there's all these different states and all these different things. These things are decided on the state level. Roughly half of the growth in US renewable energy generation since 2000 can be attributed to state renewable energy requirements. The momentum is building on these things as it started with sort of this is a cool thing to do, we should be a leader here to oh, fuck. We need to do this.
Quinn: I believe this is accurate, 29 states, Washington DC, and three territories have adopted some version of an RPS while eight states and one territory have said renewable energy goals. I'm not totally sure the difference, but we'll get into that here.
Jamie DeMarco: One's binding.
Quinn: Okay great, there you go. So one is actually binding, which I'm assuming is the RPS.
Jamie DeMarco: Yes.
Quinn: And goals, like your goal to work out every day is not necessarily binding.
Brian: Right, but hopefully it's on the way to becoming binding.
Quinn: Theoretically. It's a difference between I'm gonna do this every day and saying punch me in the nuts if I don't work out every day.
Quinn: One becomes more binding than the other. So where would it start? You would be surprised, but Iowa was the first state to establish a RPS. On the other hand, here's the states that haven't done shit yet. Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Arkansas. West Virginia, not surprising is virtually all of their energy still comes from coal, and actually there was a thing, Washington Post ... I can't remember. I will find the link, we'll put it in the show notes that actually shows a breakdown of every state up to last week where they're getting their energy now and how that's changed over time. It's really helpful for folks to feel empowered about their locality.
Quinn: So anyways. Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Arkansas, West Virginia, raise your fucking hands. Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, fucking Florida, I mean Jesus Christ Florida, Louisiana is half underwater already. These places haven't done anything, but let's focus on the positives. Let's focus on the action. The states of Hawaii and California have the most aggressive RPS requirement of 100% renewable by 2045. Boom. 100%.
Quinn: That is a standard to rise to. To be clear, most of these are not gonna be 100% by some date in the near future. These RPS things are all over the place. A lot of them are 20% or 25% by 2032, et cetera, et cetera. But the key is because of the momentum and because of the way the market is going, we're gonna blow past those fucking things. It's like three years ago, everybody said EVs were gonna take forever to adopt and we're just blowing these things out of the water.
Brian: [crosstalk 00:13:05].
Jamie DeMarco: I see a Tesla every day.
Quinn: Right. The article in Wired this week was like holy shit we need so many electric chargers than we thought we needed and we need them [STAT 00:13:13]. So we're gonna blow by those and we're gonna get into why. Let's dial into our focus this week which is the state that's not a state ... Remember the states of Hawaii and California have the most aggressive goals. Is greener than your state. So Jamie, tell us why and how DC is actually different. Tell me what you did.
Brian: What did you do?
Jamie DeMarco: I swear it's a good thing. DC now has the most ambitious climate legislation anywhere in the country. DC just passed a law. The mayor just signed it in January of 2019 into law that requires the district to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2032. [crosstalk 00:13:59].
Quinn: Right, which you might notice is 13 fucking years early.
Brian: Yeah yeah. Wow.
Jamie DeMarco: We know we have all the technology we need to power our society from 100% renewables. We just lack the political will to get there. In DC, we've made the political will.
Quinn: I also just wanna clarify for everybody 'cause I was being really not subtle about it. DC is not a state.
Quinn: For all the people who still can't name all our states.
Brian: Sorry I thought that was clear.
Quinn: No no no. For a lot of people, it's not a fucking clear. And by the way, for half the people it's clear, they go okay cool and you go great, so what is it and people are like well I don't fucking know. What does DC [inaudible 00:14:35] even stand for, right? Well the point is it's ... We can have an entirely other conversation about this, but it's what, 700,000 something like that, that do not have representation in Congress, which is insane.
Brian: Oh, right right.
Jamie DeMarco: More people than Vermont.
Quinn: Yup, it's a nightmare and we need to fix that in the next six to eight years. Puerto Rico and DC. So the point is, the state that is not a state is more aggressive than all the rest, so great work everybody.
Brian: Got it.
Quinn: Jamie, if we can back up a little bit, and I know your bill is pretty unique as well because it's actually going after transportation as well, but not in the way folks would expect. Tell us, I guess give us the past let's say five years building up to this and then how this thing went through because I believe it passed unanimously as well, which is also a shocker.
Jamie DeMarco: It did pass unanimously.
Quinn: It really helps for people to understand how this blueprint was put together, so can you talk us through that a little bit.
Jamie DeMarco: This campaign was a three year campaign. It was led primarily by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and [Camilla Thorndike 00:15:36], which is an all star organization with an all start employee. First, the campaign sort of got a lot of people together and the two takeaways from the DC campaign are one, the first thing you do is build a strong, broad, powerful coalition. The second thing you do is you never give up. And if you follow those two steps, you can take what nobody has ever done anywhere and make it the law of the land.
Quinn: That's a pretty baller speech. We can just stop right there.
Brian: Yeah, that was. How many minutes in are we? [crosstalk 00:16:09].
Quinn: 15 minutes.
Jamie DeMarco: Yeah, everyone can get time back.
Quinn: So tell us what that means in practice.
Jamie DeMarco: First we had to build our own coalition, and we ended up getting about 100 organizations in DC to sort of agree to work on this campaign. These are not just typical environmental groups like the Sierra Club, it also included like social organizations, low income advocates I think, [HealthGap 00:16:33], [Gifts 00:16:33] for the Homeless, and [Ann's 00:16:37] Chili Bowl. Sort of non-conventional allies, faith leaders were all in this coalition and working like a well oiled machine. And once you have your side in line, something happened on this campaign that I've never seen happen anywhere else, is the lead sponsor of the bill, Mary [Chay 00:16:53], who we're forever grateful to, sat us in a room [crosstalk 00:16:56].
Quinn: Now who's Mary Chay? Sorry if you could back up.
Jamie DeMarco: Sorry, Mary Chay is a council member on the DC council.
Jamie DeMarco: So she introduced this bill. She's the lead sponsor, but she said before I introduce it, you gotta do this one thing. You need to sit in a room with all of your friends, but then also everyone who's not your friend. You have to sit in the room with Washington Gas, with the utilities, with the parking garage people, with the hospitals, with the universities, a consortium of business owners and property owners, all the people who disagree with you and come to consensus about what the bill was gonna be.
Quinn: And when was that?
Jamie DeMarco: The first of those meetings I think was in March of 2018. And we met for two hours on a Friday. We had blocked off two hours so we'd have a lot of time to talk and we met for two hours and got nowhere. People pointed fingers. We weren't coming to the table in good faith. Everybody had their own institutional priorities. So we got-
Quinn: Does that include you guys?
Jamie DeMarco: Our institutional priority was to reduce climate change.
Quinn: Save the world.
Brian: No big deal.
Jamie DeMarco: Yeah, but we came back the next week. We met for another two hours and got almost nowhere. And then we came back the next week, met for another two hours and we took a baby step. And we kept coming back, actually I think it was about three months where we met every Friday for two hours locked in a room, arguing, pointing fingers, and sometimes agreeing. What came out of that is a bill that passed the council unanimously, and I think is the strongest, best legislation we could have passed in DC. And when I talk to the lead lobbyists from Washington Gas, he says he thinks it's the best possible outcome. So we really did end up coming to consensus through a lot and lot of dialogue.
Brian: Yeah, never stopping. Never giving up like you said.
Jamie DeMarco: Yeah.
Quinn: So you got to a place where you were unanimous, which is not a word that's bandied about in anywhere, much less DC very often. Again, that's just on a federal level. I mean, I understand. I'm from Virginia. DC "city" politics are complicated and ugly for a lot of reasons. What are some of the obstacles you ran into in getting to unanimous, specifically? You talked about all these players in the game.
Jamie DeMarco: A huge obstacle is building trust. I'm Quaker and it's really important to me to see that there is that of God in every person, even the lead lobbyist for a fossil fuel company. That person ...
Quinn: Even that guy?
Jamie DeMarco: Even that person.
Quinn: Are you sure?
Jamie DeMarco: I have faith. There's not always evidence.
Brian: You are a good man.
Jamie DeMarco: But I do have faith.
Quinn: That is a leap of faith.
Jamie DeMarco: I truly believe and this is born by my experience, both in DC and in Congress that if you sit down and engage in respectful dialogue and hear people's concerns and address those concerns, then you can do things that you wouldn't be able to do if you dismissed them out of hand. If you said oh we're never gonna find anything we agree on with that person. That is the beauty of the Citizens' Climate Lobby. The Citizens' Climate Lobby is dedicated to civil dialogue, which I think we lack a lot right now. I think a lot of what's happening in America is a social media bubble on one side reinforcing its own beliefs and a social media bubble on the other reinforcing its own beliefs.
Quinn: Why do you feel that way? That's weird.
Jamie DeMarco: I know. It's amazing that we are where we are, but I really think that it takes courage and it's not comfortable and it feels a lot better to talk to the people who agree with you because they're gonna say yeah, you're absolutely right and we love that. Who doesn't love that, but the beautiful thing about government is that it's the one place where we have to sit down regardless of who you follow on Twitter and have dialogue.
Quinn: That's impressive. It is impressive. DC's a complicated place. I know there's a lot of players there so that's interesting. What do you feel like were your first breakthroughs going from everybody pointing fingers in the first meeting to getting to unanimous.
Jamie DeMarco: So the initial bill that we were advocating for was a price on carbon, and that was sort of the primary aspect of the bill. What ultimately passed had a price on carbon as a component, but it was smaller, it wasn't the lead component of the bill. A price on carbon is really, I feel convinced of this, it's the most effective way to reduce emissions rapidly. Just like 90 plus percent of scientists agree based on the evidence that humans are causing climate change. Very similarly, 90 plus percent of economists agree based on the evidence that pricing carbon is the most effective way to reduce emissions.
Jamie DeMarco: So if we're talking about being evidence based and being informed by the experts, it's important that we include a price on carbon and a solution to climate change. To give you, sorry go ahead.
Quinn: No no no. I'm just listening to your soothing voice telling us how this all worked out. Please.
Jamie DeMarco: Carbon pricing. Carbon pricing. I'm gonna get back to DC, but while I'm on this, when you get me excited about carbon pricing, I just keep talking.
Quinn: No man, I can get into it. Let's do it.
Brian: Oh yeah, we're excited about that.
Jamie DeMarco: So recently introduced into Congress was the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act and this is a policy that would make polluters pay a fee for every ton of pollution they emit, known as a price on carbon or a carbon tax. It takes the money generated and it gives it back to everyone in America. So you, you Quinn, would get a monthly deposit in your bank account paid for by polluters.
Quinn: And that is one of the sticking points that has come around in all the different versions of this. All the economists, past and present, most of them say, look we gotta have some sort of fee. We've moved away from calling it a tax 'cause everybody fucking hates taxes. We're calling it a fee.
Quinn: Some of the reasons it's failed besides insane lobbying by all these industries is that well the question has been, great we agree on it, however we don't agree where the money's gonna go. Now we've said ... It's just gotta be a fucking check back to the people, right? It's gotta be the most palatable thing possible to these people. The key is, of course, is it a step ladder of where we start the pricing and how does it build up. Because everyone says we'll start it at 40 bucks a ton and the main economists who actually are aware of the indication of a metric ton of carbon does, are like it actually needs to be like $500. So the question is can we build up to it?
Jamie DeMarco: 5,000 I think.
Quinn: Like EVs and like ... especially wind, but solar as well, once we start building towards these things, and it is inevitable, everybody sees the fucking writing on the wall, and the number matters less than the fact that companies know they have to work towards it, and as we've talked about in past podcasts, they realize there's actually a chance to innovate here 'cause we can become a leader in the space that helps someone not have to pay this fee, right?
Jamie DeMarco: Right.
Quinn: And that's the key, what is the term ? The wedge of the knife or the wedge of the hatchet that just gets you in the door. What is the edge of that that just gets it going because then, eventually it becomes inevitable. Because no one's just gonna sit here and pay 40 bucks for forever and be like, we're fine. I mean some people will, but the rest of them are gonna go, look clearly the direction we're going is that this things gonna build, we might as well turn our business, as big as it might be, at this point, right?
Jamie DeMarco: Right. And to give you a perspective of the level of emission reduction that this bill will achieve. It will reduce US emissions 40% in 12 years. To give you a scale of what 40% of US emission means, if we transitioned our entire electric grid to renewable energy, if we weren't burning anymore coal or gas to power our electricity, that would reduce US emissions by 28%. This will reduce emissions 40% in 12 years.
Quinn: I mean it's a lot.
Jamie DeMarco: That's because it is a lot. I haven't even told you the most unbelievable part of this bill yet. Are you gonna ask what it is?
Brian: Sir, what is the most unbelievable part of this bill? I have to know.
Jamie DeMarco: This bill, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act has republican and democratic support.
Brian: Oh wow.
Quinn: What does that mean? What is that? How does that work?
Jamie DeMarco: That means that when it was introduced in the 2018 Congress, it had 3 republican original co-sponsors.
Quinn: Did you kidnap them?
Jamie DeMarco: No I'm telling you, there's that of God in everyone.
Brian: God you're a better person than me.
Jamie DeMarco: In all seriousness, the Citizens' Climate Lobby has a long history of doing the impossible. A few years ago, we were told it was impossible to get republicans to acknowledge the reality of climate change. And our volunteers went out and we helped create the Gibson resolution, which is a resolution, it was in I think two Congresses ago that was just of republicans and all it said was climate change is caused by humans. And that's all it said. And that was a good first step.
Jamie DeMarco: People told us, okay good job good job. But you're never gonna get republicans to talk about solutions. So then we created the Climate Solutions Caucus, a caucus for members of congress and we got republicans to join it and they said okay maybe you got a few sort of republicans in purple districts, but you'll never get a lot of them. We ended up getting I think upwards of 45 republicans to join the Climate Solutions Caucus, which means they met regularly with other members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to talk about solutions to climate change. And then everybody said okay, you've got them talking about solutions, but they're never gonna introduce a bill. And now we've introduced a bill. And we were told it was impossible.
Quinn: It's crazy. You guys should be in charge of everything.
Jamie DeMarco: Don't do that. Don't do that.
Brian: We've had a few republicans who realize that climate change is real right on our podcast. It was fascinating.
Jamie DeMarco: Yeah, I know. They do exist.
Brian: They're here. They're out there. So Jamie, getting back to DC, Quinn had mentioned something earlier about you going after transportation too, what's going on there?
Jamie DeMarco: So the DC bill that passed actually requires anyone who has a fleet of more than 50 vehicles to transition to 100% electric vehicles by 2040. So if you're U-haul and you have a fleet in DC, by 2040, you will have an all electric fleet.
Brian: Yeah, that's like U-haul, that's like any, UPS, FedEx, all the public transportation [crosstalk 00:28:00].
Jamie DeMarco: Yeah anyone with a fleet of 50 cars.
Brian: Taxis, limousines. Ooh, this is good.
Jamie DeMarco: I know and 2040, all electric. And you know who came up with that idea?
Jamie DeMarco: It was the electric utilities.
Quinn: Interesting. I love that and it does send ... Again, no one's gonna be like ugh 2039, we got six months, we better do this thing. It's like I see the writing on the wall, right? And so theoretically, this thing is going to start making progress much, much earlier.
Brian: Is there ... Oh, go ahead. I'm sorry.
Jamie DeMarco: That's part of what we can do at the state level. State action on its own is never going to reduce our emissions at the rate that we need to to keep the Earth from heating up more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. But by taking action at the state level, we can start the curve of innovation and start the curve of policy innovation that gets us to national policy and gets us to the global reductions we need.
Brian: Is there any hope, any chance that we could, that for private transportation, there could be new rules, like congestion charges or banning cars downtown or whatever? There are some cities that are in Europe that are doing that pretty soon. No more diesel and no gas within the downtown city limits. I mean that would be incredible if DC could sort of become America's biggest biking city. And no tailpipes in the capital. No emissions in the capital. That would be ...
Jamie DeMarco: I think we should do that. We'll make that the next one.
Brian: Okay that'd be great.
Quinn: Not discounting what you've already done.
Brian: No no.
Quinn: Which is amazing, it's just we're fucking greedy and I just think about I brought my oldest kid to walk around DC last summer and he loved it so much and it's amazing and obviously it's got a bunch of traffic like everybody else and it's very specifically laid out. It's just the idea of what if that's a place you could hang your flag on and say we're gonna lead the way on that and this is a ... There's bike lanes everywhere and there's scooters everywhere, and it is a walking city. We just gotta clear everything else out of there.
Jamie DeMarco: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brian: That'd be cool. But if you could just do that next, that'd be great.
Quinn: Yeah, that'd be great. So we talked about the obstacles. We talked about getting everybody to [inaudible 00:30:17]. We always wanna paint a blueprint so that people can look at this in the context of their own municipality, whether that's a big place or a small. What do you feel like were the biggest lessons you learned about how to efficiently move this along? Not like hey this is how we got to unanimous. What did we have to learn along the way about dealing with a situation like this with so many invested people?
Jamie DeMarco: I started talking about this earlier and I got distracted by how much I love carbon pricing.
Quinn: Yeah please.
Jamie DeMarco: The bill was originally a carbon pricing bill and that was the core of it. The other side sort of knew that if we enacted a carbon price, that would set a national precedent. It's kind of a revolutionary act to put a price on carbon. You really have to transform your business model once you've done that. So they sort of knew how effective it would be and were pushing back. We were sort of at loggerhead, so we'd meet at these Friday meetings and for the longest time all we could talk about was, I think a carbon price is good. I think a carbon price is bad. And then we'd come back the next week and have the same conversation.
Jamie DeMarco: Then, what ended up happening is we basically gave up on the carbon pricing, which was tragic for me. I stayed up nights wondering whether we should still support this bill. And I think one lesson, if you're ever in a situation where you need to reach consensus, you're gonna have to give something up and you're gonna have to find something that's important to you and that'll make you cry if it goes away, and you might have to wave to it and say goodbye. But that ultimately was the breakthrough that allowed everyone around that room to come to consensus on the strongest climate legislation in the country.
Quinn: That's pretty awesome. You do have to. And you feel like, and again, you guys are groundbreaking here for how aggressive it is, but you're not the first ones to do it, which is good. So it's not like these institutions, the power generators and operators are looking around and going what the fuck is this idea like they've never heard of it. They know that they will have to compromise in some way. It's just a matter of ... What's the amazing negotiating book that everybody loves? Getting past no or getting to yes or whatever.
Jamie DeMarco: Getting to Yes.
Quinn: Yeah, where the idea's you don't just talk about what everybody's ownership stake is in this. You gotta first talk about what are your interests in this. What do you wanna get out of this? Why are you participating in this? Why do you do what you do? They wanna still be in business. And everybody's gonna be different, but if you don't put those things on the board first, it becomes very difficult to get to the point of actually horse trading on what matters.
Jamie DeMarco: The exciting news is that campaigns like this are going on in states all across the country. In New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Maine, Oregon, California, Vermont, I said Vermont.
Brian: Vermont counts as two, that's fine.
Jamie DeMarco: Virginia, Maryland, Utah, and New Mexico. These are all states that I'm sort of tracking what's happening and helping to replicate the success of this DC campaign.
Quinn: It is exciting despite what's happening on the federal level. Both what's happening on the state level, what's happening with the cities, what's happening in some of these international cities, there's an article and we'll put it in the show notes again, in a lot of places, not most places yet, but not just a few, it is cheaper now to build an entirely new renewable installation than to continue to using an existing fossil fuel installation, which is insane. If you'd told someone three, five, six, seven years ago that that was an option that in 2019. They'd laugh you out of the fucking park.
Quinn: But that's what's happening now already.
Jamie DeMarco: [Excel 00:34:07] Energy is actively retiring coal plants to build new solar plus battery storage and they serve I think six states.
Quinn: It's crazy. It's crazy. But it has become like oh if we wanna be green weenie, we should consider that to oh we have to do that or we're going out of business, and it's because it's the right thing to do for our business. And Brian and I have just taken on [crosstalk 00:34:31], it's whatever the means are that gets us to the end, great. If that's the thing. And that's how we feel when we're talking to a reverend. Or a quaker or whatever. Whatever your values are that gets you to that place so that we all don't die, great. That's great.
Jamie DeMarco: Yeah, I don't wanna die.
Quinn: Yeah, it does feel like Raiders of the Lost Ark though, right? That fucking ball is just rolling.
Brian: Which was just on. I literally just watched that scene. It was very real.
Quinn: Yeah, it's very real.
Jamie DeMarco: Wow. I hope we have the same ending as Indiana Jones had.
Brian: Yeah, that'd be cool.
Quinn: Yeah. God.
Brian: All right so like we mentioned before Jamie, the goal of every conversation we have here is to work towards steps, action steps that we can all take to support you using our voice and our vote and our dollar. So let's do that. How do we and our listeners support your endeavors with, first, their voice?
Quinn: And knowing that you've already, DCs done that, great you did that. So not necessarily the fight there, but maybe it's two fold. It's supporting Citizens' Climate Lobby, but also using this as a blueprint to raise the ruckus in their own municipalities, so again let's start with their voice.
Jamie DeMarco: Citizens' Climate Lobby has volunteers in every single congressional district. So wherever you are in the country, there is almost certainly an active chapter that meets once a month of the Citizens' Climate Lobby in your district.
Brian: That's pretty great.
Jamie DeMarco: In your congressional district. The most effective use of your voice ... There was actually a study of members of congress. It was asking staff, the survey was actually of staff of member of congress and it asked what is the thing that is most likely to change your member of congress' mind on an issue? Member of congress believes one thing, what is the number one thing that moves them to believe something different? And the answer by far and large across the board was an in person meeting with constituents. So you actually right now could send an email to your member of congress and set up a meeting with their staff. You don't have to have any qualifications, you don't need security clearance, you could go in and meet with the office of your member of congress in the next month if you wanted, if you took the initiative to set that up.
Jamie DeMarco: And we believe that by having those dialogues and having constituents talk to members of congress, not corporate lobbyists, not paid people, but people who are there because they care, that shifts the national dialogue and that's what has made us successful in taking the impossible and making it possible.
Brian: Damn, so I didn't know that that was a thing. [crosstalk 00:37:26].
Jamie DeMarco: Yeah. Just send an email.
Brian: If I did that, once I'm in there, and I get this meeting. What questions do I need to be asking? The big actionable ones.
Jamie DeMarco: You can ask whatever ... So first of all, the way to think of it, a member of congress works for you. You would never hire someone and say I'll check in on how you're doing two years from now. You hire someone and you have regular check ins. And I encourage you to have a regular check in with your employee in congress to make sure they're doing what you want them to do, but if you go to citizensclimatelobby.org, you can plug in with the chapter, they meet every month on a Saturday. They will give you the training that you could use to make that meeting the most effective.
Brian: Yeah, that'd be great because that would be, as good as that is, to know that I can do that. It would not be a terrible idea to have a little bit of a ...
Quinn: Little bit of a plan.
Brian: Little bit of a plan going in.
Quinn: Right. And that's what we wanna do. Again, we wanna arm people with the most specific things they can go in there. The questions that apply to every municipality or district and the ones that are specific to theirs.
Jamie DeMarco: I support plans.
Quinn: Deal. You support plans. Very very helpful.
Brian: [crosstalk 00:38:49] support.
Quinn: Brian loves plans. I've been trying to get him to read the Checklist Manifesto for four years.
Brian: Have you read the Checklist Manifesto Jamie?
Quinn: It's great.
Jamie DeMarco: I haven't, but I've listened to your other podcasts and I've heard that this does come up a lot.
Quinn: It does come up a lot.
Brian: It's mostly the fact that I haven't done it.
Quinn: Yeah, Atul Gawande amazing writer. One day. One day. I'm just gonna pile them on the desk in front of Brian until he can't put his computer down.
Brian: Great thank you man. Great we can use our voice to go in and set up a meeting with our representative. It's not an election moment so we'll skip voting except to say that when it is time, obviously find candidates who want to save the world and support them with a burning passion. So what about their dollar, what can we do with our dollars?
Jamie DeMarco: You can donate to the Citizens' Climate Lobby.
Quinn: And what does that do?
Brian: Where does that money go?
Jamie DeMarco: Citizens' Climate Lobby is first of all primarily a volunteer run organization.
Brian: Oh great.
Jamie DeMarco: Our operating budget is a fraction, a small percentage of what a lot of other big green operating budgets are. So that's going to pay core staff whose only job is to facilitate constituents who are flying in to meet with members of congress or meeting in district with a member of congress. And that also helps us sort of do the smallest most efficient staff operation we can in order to empower the volunteers we have in every district across the country.
Quinn: Okay so donations go to the overall organization that are then doled out to each district, is that how it works?
Jamie DeMarco: Doled out to the staff and the regional coordinators who facilitate the process of constituents meeting with members of congress.
Quinn: Gotcha. Okay that's super helpful. And how big is the organization?
Jamie DeMarco: The organization has I think 40 staff, but I think about 100,000 volunteers like I said in every congressional district.
Quinn: So you have an actual army?
Jamie DeMarco: We have an army built and marching. We march to congress every June. Every June we have our national conference. You should come too. Come to DC, stay in DC and meet with your member of congress after being trained by the Citizens' Climate Lobby to meet with them to talk effectively about climate change.
Quinn: We're in. It'll be great.
Brian: That's a good plan.
Jamie DeMarco: Oh thank you. I'm so glad you'll be there.
Quinn: Brian you can wear that. Brian dressed up today. He looks great.
Brian: I just have a normal sweater on [crosstalk 00:41:21].
Quinn: No it's kind of ... How would you describe it? Is this like sand colored pants? Is that what they call them?
Brian: I don't think so, but [crosstalk 00:41:26].
Quinn: Okay and then a nice dark green, it's not a turtleneck, it's like if a turtleneck didn't have the turtle part up top.
Brian: It's just a nice fitted sweater, forest green.
Quinn: It is fitted.
Jamie DeMarco: Well I speak for the listeners in saying that I can't see you so I hope that you will come to DC in June with the Citizens' Climate Lobby and I hope all the listeners do and then we can all see.
Quinn: Actually now I back that up. I wouldn't wear that because if you've ever been to DC in the summer, that's not what we're looking for.
Brian: It's terrible. I have been to DC.
Quinn: You'd be soaked through as if you'd taken at least two showers.
Brian: Fully clothed showers.
Quinn: But it really is lovely.
Brian: DC is beautiful and warm in the summer.
Quinn: Yup. Yup. Yup.
Jamie DeMarco: Sweat yourself clean.
Brian: All right wow this has been incredible. We are so happy that you came in and chatted with us today Jamie. We hope you are too.
Jamie DeMarco: I've really enjoyed it. You two are fun to talk to.
Brian: You should be here in person. It's a different story.
Quinn: Yeah, it's a different story.
Brian: No no no no.
Brian: Hey Jamie, just like we got the great rec from Andreas, we're always happy to get future podcast guest recommendations from the wonderful current guests, so if you ever have anybody that you think we should talk to even if it's not right this moment, please let us know.
Quinn: And not just climate, again any of those big things that are affecting everybody right now from medicine to climate to space. People are out there doing awesome things that are either big things or not at all. We're always happy to identify and harass both of them.
Jamie DeMarco: I used to work on nuclear disarmament.
Quinn: That's actually specific this week.
Jamie DeMarco: Yes, we are retreating from an arms deal, which is tragic. And I actually have someone who I think would be perfect for this.
Brian: Oh that's so great.
Quinn: Beautiful, you can send it to us via, what's the word, email.
Quinn: Yeah, fax. No we got rid of the fax machine.
Brian: That's right. I forgot.
Jamie DeMarco: I'll send it over Snapchat.
Quinn: Brian's in charge of that side.
Brian: I barely know what Snapchat is.
Quinn: What is it? I don't understand.
Brian: I'm not kidding. I don't know. We're too old.
Jamie DeMarco: It's like-
Quinn: No no, please. No this is important.
Jamie DeMarco: I was just gonna say it's like a camera, but your memory is broken is all it is.
Brian: Man that ... Wow.
Quinn: It just doesn't sound appealing.
Brian: That sounds awful. Great well we'll look at a Snapchat. Quinn mentioned this before Jamie, it's lightning round time. Little note, these are not lightning round questions.
Quinn: They're not.
Brian: So I don't know why it's called that, but it's gonna be fun.
Quinn: That's what other people call it.
Brian: [crosstalk 00:44:01] if you're ready.
Jamie DeMarco: I don't even know what a lightning round is.
Brian: Good 'cause it doesn't matter.
Quinn: Now this will be your idea of it forever. Jamie, when was the first time in your life when you realized the power of change or the power to do something meaningful?
Jamie DeMarco: It's funny, I listened to the last podcast with [inaudible 00:44:18] from Sunrise.
Brian: So good.
Jamie DeMarco: And she talked about going to the Forward on Climate rally in DC around the Keystone XL Pipeline and that is my same answer.
Quinn: You're copying her answer?
Jamie DeMarco: I went to that rally. That's always been my answer. I will have you know. No that rally I think was the start of the modern climate movement and I remember going there and I remember seeing someone who was pumping her fist in the air and saying one we are the people, two we are united, three we will not let you build this pipeline. And I got so revved. I remember the juices that started flowing and I was like this is where we are and this is where we need to be.
Brian: Man that's awesome.
Quinn: That rocks. I would get pretty pumped up. Also, we're definitely gonna take that and make a remix out of it and we're gonna drop our first single.
Jamie DeMarco: Please [crosstalk 00:45:11]. Just be sure to pay me royalties.
Brian: Of course.
Quinn: Oh yeah well don't worry, from what we hear they're extensive. The way it is, it's not broken at all. Hey Jamie, who is someone in your life that's positively impacted your work in the past six months? If you copy [inaudible 00:45:26] answer here, it's gonna be really weird.
Jamie DeMarco: I am not going to do that.
Brian: It would.
Jamie DeMarco: Her answer was her mom so I'm not gonna say that. But I believe that every person you work with, you can see as a mentor and I believe that the most effective way to grow your work is to take your favorite part of every person that you work with and add that to your repertoire. With that said, I think the most recent mentor I've had is [Andres 00:45:52] Jimenez, who you had on the show before and who also works at the Citizens' Climate Lobby. He has taught me a lot about the power and importance of relationship. That if you put relationship between people first and sort of bond interpersonally and make that a priority then everything else will come after. And he is now running for office. He is running for state delegate in Fairfax, Virginia and everyone should support him.
Brian: Fairfax. I've been there.
Quinn: Yeah he texted me about that the other night and I couldn't have been more excited.
Jamie DeMarco: I know. I can't wait to knock on doors for him.
Quinn: Yeah, he's gonna stir some shit up. It's gonna be pretty great.
Brian: Jamie, what do you do specifically when you feel overwhelmed?
Jamie DeMarco: I don't know if you're gonna like my answer.
Brian: That's okay.
Jamie DeMarco: But this week I got a dog.
Brian: I'm not some sort of dog hating monster. I just like cats.
Quinn: That's fine.
Brian: I'm very happy with your answer and congratulations.
Quinn: Let's dig into this real quick. What kind of dog? How old? What's his name?
Jamie DeMarco: Yellow lab. He is one years old and his name is Abe.
Brian: Abe. I love it.
Quinn: Oh it's so good.
Brian: Where did you get him?
Jamie DeMarco: My former housemate's dad could no longer take care of him so I picked him up and now he lives with me and my housemates and he really likes to fall asleep with some part of your body under his neck.
Brian: This is really wonderful news.
Quinn: Oh they're just ... Right, versus a cat who would fall asleep with some part of his body under his neck so that it could be closer to you so it could kill you.
Brian: I could send you so many photos of my adorable cat cuddling with me and just being amazing and not trying to murder me.
Quinn: No no. But it's plotting the whole time. I told you, if cats were 200 pounds, we'd all be dead. They're just waiting. They're just waiting.
Jamie DeMarco: Have you heard of lions?
Quinn: Yeah. I know.
Brian: What's that? Wow, that's wonderful. You have years of good times and love ahead of you with Abe and that's amazing and I'm happy.
Quinn: It's awesome.
Brian: How do you consume the news Jamie?
Jamie DeMarco: I have a subscription to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and I flip through those.
Brian: You flip through them?
Jamie DeMarco: I wake up in the morning and look at them and I will admit, I do often do the thing where I just look at all the headlines and don't read any of them.
Brian: Well sure.
Jamie DeMarco: But sometimes I read the articles.
Jamie DeMarco: I want you to know. And then of course Facebook and Twitter, I spend too much time on.
Quinn: Yeah maybe just not the Facebook one anymore. I mean we're on there too, but it's just like ... It feels like everyday they're just like ... It's like again having that crazy ex boyfriend, ex girlfriend where everyday there's a red flag and you're like I'm gonna ignore that one. She's cute. He's cute. It's the whole thing. People tell you who they are, it's up to you whether to ignore it or not. Facebook's like here, this is us, every fucking day. Oh God. Anyways. Bring it home Brian.
Brian: One of our favorite questions. Jamie, if you could Amazon Prime one book to Donald Trump, what book would it be?
Quinn: Any book, we've gotten from coloring books to the constitution.
Jamie DeMarco: I would send Donald Trump Les Miserables.
Quinn: Ooh, have we had that before?
Brian: I don't think so actually.
Quinn: It's so good. That Hugh Jackman. Oh you mean the book.
Jamie DeMarco: Big difference.
Brian: I think Hugh Jackman narrates the ...
Quinn: Why the book? Tell us.
Jamie DeMarco: It is a story of redemption. It's a story of how our criminal justice system can be flawed and do more harm than good and it's a story of what can happen to regimes if you don't listen to the will of the people.
Quinn: I like that. That's pretty awesome.
Brian: Awesome. We will add it to our Amazon book list.
Quinn: That's right. We have an Amazon list that Brian puts out once in a while.
Brian: Once in a while.
Quinn: All the books that everybody recommends books and people can literally click on them and send them to the White House.
Brian: Pretty great.
Quinn: Stir it up.
Jamie DeMarco: You might have to send the abridged version of that one. I'm not sure he'll have the attention span.
Quinn: I don't know what you would think that. All right Jamie, last one. Where can our listeners follow you on the internet?
Jamie DeMarco: My Twitter is @jamiedemarco1. That's the place to follow.
Quinn: What about the Climate Lobby?
Jamie DeMarco: You can follow Citizens' Climate Lobby at @citizensclimate. That's their Twitter.
Quinn: Awesome and what's their webpage so that people can go there and send them their hard earned cash?
Jamie DeMarco: Citizensclimatelobby.org.
Brian: On that website is also where you can find where your local chapter is basically to join?
Jamie DeMarco: Find your local chapter, that's right.
Quinn: 'Cause you said you guys are everywhere already, which is both empowering and creepy.
Jamie DeMarco: We are everywhere.
Quinn: Awesome. Well Jamie, this has been super great. We really appreciate your time today. We appreciate you cleaning up DC. You're like a Batman, but for portfolio energy standards.
Brian: Ooh. That's cool.
Jamie DeMarco: We're sending clean energy to the White House.
Quinn: That's great. They don't deserve it. But that's super cool man. Thank you for your time today, for all that you do. Keep kicking ass out there. Can't wait to hear what your next project is and we will talk to you soon man.
Brian: And tell Abe we say hello.
Quinn: Oh yeah, just give him a good rub, he's such a good boy.
Jamie DeMarco: I'll tell Abe that Quinn says hello.
Brian: Awful. This has been awful.
Quinn: All right Jamie, we'll talk to you man. Thanks.
Brian: Thank you so much.
Jamie DeMarco: Thank you so much.
Quinn: Be good.
Quinn: Thanks to our incredible guest today and thanks to all of you for tuning in. We hope this episode has made your commute or awesome workout or dish washing or fucking dog walking late at night that much more pleasant. As a reminder, please subscribe to our free email newsletter at importantnotimportant.com. It has all the news most vital to our survival as a species.
Brian: and you can follow us all over the internet. You can find us on Twitter, @importantnotimp. Just so weird. Also on Facebook and Instagram, @importantnotimportant, Pinterest and Tumblr the same thing. So check us out, follow us, share us, like us. You know the deal. And please subscribe to our show wherever you listen to things like this and if you're really fucking awesome, rate us on Apple podcasts. Keep the lights on. Thanks.
Brian: And you can find the show notes from today right in your little podcast player and at our website importantnotimportant.com.
Quinn: Thanks to the very awesome Tim Blane for our jamming music, to all of you for listening and finally, most importantly to our moms for making us. Have a great day.
Brian: Thanks guys.