How to Advocate for Clean Water & the Environment in a Virtual World
Want to get politically engaged? Like everything right now it’s a little more complicated than usual. With state capitals closed due to the current pandemic, lobbyists and constituents have increased hurdles for access to legislators.
For one, legislators are mainly focusing on COVID-19 related issues like state revenues and health concerns.
This may cause eco-advocates to feel like their concerns for climate change and similar causes are being pushed aside, adding stress due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. According to Lee Clark, Environmental Justice Policy Manager of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, it’s not the time to de-prioritize. “People should be advocating for environmental health. Given COVID-19, we are seeing a lot of concern in people for their health and mental well-being, which is why we are in support of the reopening of parks. Things can’t be put on the back burner for clean air and water and open space. These things are still huge priorities.”
But you can still make a difference online! Lobbying online is manageable, offering a platform to express legislative concerns.
“Things can’t be put on the back burner for clean air and water and open space. These things are still huge priorities.”Lee Clark, Environmental Justice Policy Manager of New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
5 Tips To Advocate Online
Here’s a few simple and effective tips on how to lobby congress from home.
- Facetime is better. Try to get on video chat if possible. According to Clark, “Video chat is the best way. Telephone calls are more traditional but it is nice seeing a person in front of you.” Video is the next best thing to getting “face time” IRL. Considering the lack of interaction taking place with others at the moment, video chatting offers a more personal and connecting experience, showing people that there is a real person existing beyond the screen. But make sure to factor in your wifi signal before you dial. “Take into account a good signal and test your technology. Consider calls dropping in dead zones,” Clark suggested.
- Keep it short and simple: During this time legislators are not only concerned with answering the concerns of the public, but thinking of the health and safety of their families. With non-stop calls and emails taking place, it is best to keep your questions clear and to the point. It will receive a better response and heighten the likelihood of being answered, according to the Friends Committee National Organization.
- Follow up with phone calls: If enough time has passed that you think your request has been communicated, it doesn’t hurt to call the local office of your desired legislator to get in contact with the person in charge of scheduling, making sure they received your request. You can find the contact information of most people in charge of scheduling meetings in congressional offices on your state legislator’s webpage. State legislators may also have a “Request for Meeting” form on their website.
- Meet in groups: It is easier for legislators to answer an array of questions from a group of people at the same time as opposed to taking several different calls. Synchronize your free time with other members of your lobbying group to meet virtually with a legislator and discuss key concerns with your group you guys want to address prior to the meeting.
- Follow-up emails: Especially during this time where people are being flooded with emails while working remotely, your message can get lost in the lengthy waiting list. Make sure to reach back out after a few days for a higher chance at receiving a response.
Which Organizations Are Advocating For Environmental Policies? Here’s a Few.
It may feel like everyone has come to a silent agreement that previous important issues, like the environment, have taken a back seat. t may feel overwhelming to tackle these issues alone, but you don’t have to. Don’t already have a group organized? You can join one of the following efforts.
Here’s how a few groups from states a part of The Delaware River Basin Commission are pushing ahead for sustainable progress.
The Environmental Advocates of New York are hosting a three part webinar series from May 4th-May 20th focusing on New York’s efforts thus far to secure an Environmental Bill of Rights that guarantees access to clean air and water for all. The petition can be signed here.
The group is currently pushing for Governor Cuomo to issue an executive order that will guarantee every New Yorker has access to water.
You can sign up to become an advocate for the non-profit, gaining easier access to state legislators and members of Congress.
The Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) consistently advocates for the best interest of the environment.
The PEC tracks policy updates in PA, allowing constituents to stay informed with what is happening legally in terms of the environment, like cutting back on environmental funding and slowing rulemaking proposals.
The New Jersey League of Conservation Voters advocate for sustaining conservation programs and overall protection of the State’s water.
Their website features a “Take Action” section dedicated to different online petitions one can sign to show their support, a current example being the 30X30 Petition advocating for the goal of protecting 30% of the US land and ocean areas by 2030.
The organization is also hosting virtual events, like town halls, that provide the community with opportunities to express the issues that matter to them to members of legislative assemblies.
Regardless of which efforts you choose to support, there’s endless ways to follow your passions and movement towards change. And legislators welcome this digital transition, an encouraging sign.
“Virtual meetings are definitely the way to go now to flatten the curve. Many legislators are excited to meet with people virtually, this way they can meet with more people at a time. This situation has caused us to begin using technology effectively that we’ve had for so long,” said Clark.