01/03/2014 01:01 pm ET Updated Mar 05, 2014

My New Year's Resolution: Making Climate a Voter Concern in 2014

In 2013, I dedicated myself full-time to combating the very real impacts of climate change. Working across the country, NextGen Climate Action formed new coalitions and worked hard to make climate change a part of our national conversation -- and across the country, we had a big impact.

We saw it in Massachusetts and Virginia, where voters chose clean energy leaders over a political old guard beholden to dirty special interests. We saw it in an historic regional agreement -- signed by the governors of California, Oregon and Washington and the premier of British Columbia -- to work toward a coordinated carbon market and clean fuel standard. And we saw it when farmers in Nebraska, and families in Arkansas, spoke out about the devastating effects oil pipelines can have on our land and our health.

Yes, there's gridlock in Washington. But step outside the Beltway, and you hear the real conversation on climate change. In 2014, we're resolving to take that conversation to the next level and bring climate change to the forefront of America's political dialogue.

In California, we need to stop the free ride for the oil industry, level the playing field with other oil-producing states and finally generate a return on our natural resources. That's why I'm backing a statewide public awareness campaign in support of a long-overdue oil extraction tax in California. California is the only major oil-producing state in the nation that does not impose a meaningful fee on the extraction of oil from private lands.

On the federal level, we also need to hold President Obama to the line he drew in the tar sands this June, when he made clear that the Keystone XL pipeline would only be approved if the "project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." The truth of the matter is that Keystone XL is a terrible deal for the American people -- locking us into a production cycle that will develop more of this dirty oil at a time when we should be looking for ways to tackle climate change head on.

I also plan to back candidates across the country that will take bold action on climate -- and to expose those who deny reality and cater to special interests. This election year, more than ever, we must hold our leaders responsible for the role they play in the fight against climate change.

This time of year, we all reflect on past successes and failures. We also set goals for the future and think big. Let's make 2014 the year we get voters, politicians and elected officials to tackle climate change head-on.