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Citizen Lobbyists Take Climate Case To Senate Offices

Judy Fahys
Ryan Pleune and nine other citizen lobbyiest lay out the case for senators to block nominees of President-elect Donald Trump who dismiss the importance of climate change. Friday's meetings preceed a nation day of action planned for Monday.

A national day of action is planned next week to protest some of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees. Monday’s being called a national Day Against Denial.

But a group of Utahns got a head start in urging senators to reject cabinet nominees who have denied or dismissed the importance of tackling climate change.

“We just want to say these are four nominees that we strongly oppose,” said organizer Ryan Pleune, prepping the citizen lobbyists at the Salt Lake City Federal Building. “And we’re urging them to oppose” the nominees.

The ten Utahns spoke first with aides to Senator Orrin Hatch. They want the U.S. Senate to vote against confirming four nominees: Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, Ryan Zinke for Interior Secretary, Rick Perry for Energy Secretary and Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Jill Merritt, a member of the group Elders Rising, said it’s time to start protecting the planet and people from climate change.

“I would like the climate deniers who will stand in the way of doing something kept out of the cabinet,” she told the Senator’s aides

Utah State University senior Logan Christian said the nominees are bent on dismantling environmental protections.

“I feel that’s not in line with the vast majority of Americans’ interests,” he said, “and especially not in line with younger generation’s interests. So, that’s why I’m here today.”

Hatch’s aides thanked the visitors for speaking up but offered no promises.

The group met Friday with an aide to Republican Senator Mike Lee.

On Monday, the Day Against Denial, activists nationwide will keep up this pressure by calling Senator’s offices and Senate committees.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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