Since Congress is working overtime to undermine environmental protections,
it's more important than ever to keep your legislators from caving in
to polluters' interests. Writing a letter is a simple and effective way
to let your representative know your views. The following are some time-proven
State what you are writing about and what you want
your elected official to do.
If your letter urges legislators to vote for/against
a piece of legislation, make sure to include the bill number.
Paragraphs 2 and 3:
Give your reasons, emphasizing the bill's
impact on you and on the legislator's district.
Restate your position and the action you want
the legislator to take.
1. Write to your own representative. Correspondence from
outside a legislator's constituency is often ignored if you want to express
concerns about an issue coming before a committee and your representative
isn't a committee member, ask that your views be forwarded to the appropriate
2. Focus on one subject. Letters are filed by issue. Those that
cover many topics are delayed because they have to be routed to staff members
assigned to respond to each issue.
3. Identify the bill or issue. Thousands of bills are introduced
each year, so it's important to be specific. Identify it by name, number
and what it will do. If possible, give the author's name(s) . 4. Be timely.
Find out when your legislators are due to consider a bill, and time your
5. Be courteous. Steer away from emotional outrage-stick to the
facts. Don't attack the per- son, attack the issue. Legislators won't be
bullied into voting your way.
6. Be brief. Limit your letter to one page. Concise, articulate
statements are always appreciated given the high volume of mail.
7. Give reasons. It's not enough to say you're opposed. Support
your views with rational, convincing arguments. Your delegate may not know
all the effects of the bill and its potential Impact on you.
8. Ask for action. Offer alternative approaches or specific calls
to action. Help your legislator become focused and responsive.
9. Share expert knowledge. Write to inform. A legislator doesn't
have the time or resources to be an expert in all fields. A scientist's
professional opinion may move a letter from a staff member's desk into
the congressperson's hand and facilitate intelligent decision-making.
10. Follow up. Praise a positive action, point out a negative
one. Legislators appreciate being thanked by their constituents for a job
well done--they need to hear your constructive criticism on issues they
didn't address correctly.
11. Mention community affiliations. Avoid being pigeon-holed.
You're a citizen who votes, not "just another environmentalist." Are you
a parent, teacher or small-business owner? Do you belong to community groups?
Say so. Your letter may carry more weight if a legislator assumes you represent
others within the community.
Write your senators at:
Washington, DC 20510
Write your representative at:
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Or call your senators and representative at the the Capitol Switchboard:
Join the Sierra Club Activist Network. Receive Urgent action alerts
on the issues that concern you most. Write: Campaign Desk, Sierra Club.
For more information on national legislation, call the Sierra Club Legislative
Hotline: (202) 675-2394
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