letters

letter

First you must find out how to contact your elected representative, weather they are at the local, state, or federal level. At the United States Government website, you can find the contact information of your state Legislators, Governors, U.S. Representatives, Senators, and the President. Access it here

It is also important to address the letter correctly, use their full name including their title(s). Write, "Dear Mr. President Barack Obama," not, "Dear Barack."

In general, letters should be short and concise; three short paragraphs should be plenty. These are busy people after all. The first paragraph should state that you support or oppose a position or piece of legislation. The second paragraph should explain, briefly, the reasons for your support or opposition. The third paragraph should ask the Congressman to write back explaining his position on the legislation. Avoid exaggeration and, when appropriate, document your position with an accompanying article or editorial.

State your view firmly, and with conviction, but remain respectful. Avoid insults or making threats. It is impertinent to be reasonable, factual, and friendly. Even if you disagree with your elected official on most issues, be sure to maintain a tone of respect. It will establish that you are fair and will encourage them to pay closer attention to how you view their performance as an elected official

It is a good idea to follow-up your representative’s response, or lack thereof, with another brief letter - regardless of the position he or she takes regarding the issue. If the Representative agrees with you, send a one or two sentence letter of thanks for his or her stance in combating climate change. If the Representative disagrees with your position, reply with a brief letter alluding to the section of the letter, or to their actions in office, with which you take issue and restate your position.

Elected officials listen most intently to letters from voters in their own districts, and hardly listen at all to voices from outside of their districts. Therefore focus your energy towards representatives from district or state. In most cases, it is not worth the trouble to write to officials who do not represent your state and district. The majority of Congressional offices automatically forward non-constituent letters to the Congressional office representing the letter-writer. The exception is that some votes come down to "swing votes" of a few people. These officials are not sure which way to vote, so the opinion of average citizens, even ones who do not vote for him or her, could help to sway them into enacting tougher laws on carbon emissions.

Seeing as it is the Twenty-First Centaury, we can write about the environment in a letter without hurting it. Save a tree, send an email instead!

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