by: Jenny Holmes and Bob Stivers
Empowered by God’s costly grace, we must work tirelessly with others as individuals, as a church, and as global citizens to live in harmony with the energy resources God has so abundantly provided. –The Power to Change: US Energy Policy and Global Warming, 2008 General Assembly.
The overarching environmental problem of our time is global climate change and is a priority for PEC. With a gridlocked Congress, progress is slow at the Federal level. However, closely related are the fossil fuel energy sources chosen to fuel economies. Here there are many opportunities for public witness at the regional and Federal levels. Important in both global warming and fossil fuel cycle (extraction, processing, transport and burning) are the accurate counting of the social costs of production, transportation, and location of terminals and pipelines for shipment. As North American fossil fuel industries position themselves to be exporters of fossil fuels, there is much to do.
The General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has carefully considered the problem of global climate change in its 2008 GA document The Power to Change: US Energy Policy and Global Warming. It stands with an overwhelming majority of scientists who say that climate change is already happening and is caused by human beings. Actions to reduce greenhouse gases are needed now. The GA has also made renewable resources its choice among energy sources, also recommending reduced reliance on fossil fuels. Finally, the GA had adopted an ethic of eco-justice to guide its consideration of global climate change and its recommendations on energy. Four norms are identified in this Christian ethical model to guide the church: sustainability, participation, sufficiency, and solidarity.
To set PEC’s policy priorities for 2012, the policy committee recommends concentrating on four specific energy problems within the larger context of global climate change, energy alternatives, and the four ethical norms. Toxics and GMOs will also be addressed. Twelve ethical guidelines of the Power to Change inform our positions which are summarized next to each problem.
1. Hydraulic Fracking — Place a moratorium on new fracking until human health and environmental impacts can be adequately evaluated by certified independent science.
2. Mountain Top Removal — Stop this practice immedi-ately as the human and environmental impacts are well known and serious, in addition to global warming.
3. The Keystone XL Pipeline — Do not permit due to im-pacts on global warming, on Canadian First Nations, on Boreal habitat, and on communities through which it would pass.
4. Coal Export: The construction of coal terminals and use of transportation corridors for the shipment of coal to Asia. — Seek an EPA environmental impact assessment.
As the General Assembly in Pittsburgh, PA approaches, we seek Commissioners who sense a call to bring a Commissioners Resolution to the floor especially hydraulic fracturing, since there is no GA policy on this it yet and very few regulations around it to protect the environment and human health. If you are sensing such a call, please contact Jenny Holmes at email@example.com as soon as possible. For a full copy of a backgrounder on PEC’s policy priorities, go to www.presbyearthcare.org.