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Climate and Sustainability

Basics

Over the last 30 years, Texans of all walks of life have become more concerned about human impacts on the environment. Increasingly, stories about environmental destruction and its effects on human health dominate the news and people are feeling those impacts in very real ways—in bans on fishing due to mercury contamination, in increasing asthma rates, and in ozone pollution days in Dallas and Houston, for example.

To fuel our modern lifestyle, forests are cleared, toxic waste dumped...

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Over the last 30 years, Texans of all walks of life have become more concerned about human impacts on the environment. Increasingly, stories about environmental destruction and its effects on human health dominate the news and people are feeling those impacts in very real ways—in bans on fishing due to mercury contamination, in increasing asthma rates, and in ozone pollution days in Dallas and Houston, for example.

To fuel our modern lifestyle, forests are cleared, toxic waste dumped into rivers, and chemicals spewed into the air. We are using the earth’s resources faster than they can be replenished, and scientists tell us that global warming is the biggest environmental crisis that we have faced, not just in our time, but in the entire history of human civilization. Our diverse religious traditions share a common call for people to care for the earth and live in respectful balance with other animals and people.

Texas continues to have more renewable energy potential than any other state, but in recent years clean energy discussions have taken a back seat to concern about electric reliability. Meanwhile, though cheap natural gas, made possible in large part by Texas’ controversial hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—boom, has kept energy costs low, fracking has left many communities and landowners dealing with collateral damage and unsustainable change.

Renewable energy continues to be key in addressing many of the concerns that Texas faces and will face. As renewable technologies become more cost-competitive and concerns about fracking mount, legislators should recommit to making Texas the nation’s clean energy leader and update the state’s clean energy goals. Texas’ long-term plan for electric reliability must include a commitment to clean energy that promotes long-term energy independence, human health, and care for God’s creation.

The state’s focus on electricity supply has elevated interest in energy efficiency and other demand reducing measures. Lawmakers should place particular emphasis on consumer-directed efficiency programs that yield benefits for the grid and the individual ratepayer. Too often, energy efficiency programs take a one-size-fits-all approach that rewards the heaviest users while minimizing the significance of small consumers. Legislators should affirm that energy efficiency is a community-wide effort, and craft policies that make energy efficiency attractive and effective for all ratepayers, including those who are low-income or otherwise disadvantaged.



 

 

"Demographics are destiny, some say, and there’s plenty of truth to that. If you live in the South, you’re more likely to be an evangelical Christian than if you live in San Francisco. And if you live in San Francisco, you’re more likely to be an environmentalist (or at least recycling your soda can) than if you live in San Antonio.

Jesus came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?" And they took offense at him.

The Commons is an ancient concept that refers to a foundational and mutual understanding developed in response to shared life experiences. Life as part of a local Commons was the way of life for Early Americans who lived in a time when feelings of connection had not been expanded by transportation and communications to include the whole world.

Episcopalian environmentalists are called to take the lead and work on behalf of life on planet Earth in the justice arenas. Each is called to do what was affirmed in the eight questions of our Baptismal Covenant, and with the issue of the environment, especially as posed in the words of the last two questions:

(1) Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?

(2) Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?

I have a confession. Sometimes I allow self-righteous Christians to get the best of me.  (Caveat: I am one of them.)  Take charity, for example. We love to talk about keeping government small. Let the church take care of the people!  But Americans give only 2% of our income to charity, and Christians are no better than average.  In fact, as World Vision CEO Rich Stearns gently points out, only 2% of our 2% goes to fund international aid for the poorest of the poor.  Suffice it to say that the American church is not doing a great job of fulfilling Jesus’ commands.

In early 2012, I started a Dallas Creation Care group to convene people of different Christian denominations for fellowship and support for environmental stewardship within the church.

On Thursday afternoon I went to Arlington to testify before the EPA on their proposal to delay implementation of the proposed standards for Portland cement kiln emissions.  It was striking to see such little representation on behalf of industry.  Was that because the "fix" was already in and they didn't need to send only but the most token representatives.  It was even more striking to see the large number of concerned citizens whose health and welfare has been adversely affected by the toxic emissions of these cement kilns in northern Ellis County that have a profound effect on the quality

UPDATE #1: Conference has concluded, thanks to all who attended. Archival video coming soon.

One of our board members, Rev. Mel Caraway, will be participating in a press conference today.

Texas Scientists, Citizens Speak Out for Strong Rules to Reduce Harmful Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Activity

Sept. 23 press conference to coincide with EPA’s Dallas hearing to receive public comment on proposed rule to cut methane from oil and gas facilities/infrastructure

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