You Will be My Witnesses…

 … in Jerusalem … and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
Yesterday Nathan Elwood and I went to the U.S. Department of State, to testify on behalf of evangelical Christians against the pending approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. We were joined by a mosaic of voices — indigenous leaders, ranchers, doctors, pipeline inspectors, ministers and robed friars, an Army general, college students and more — asking President Obama not to approve the pipeline.  We were opposed by a much smaller number — overwhelmingly oil industry people and, sadly, unemployed union laborers bused in for the event — repeating the claims of jobs and energy independence, as though repetition would make them true. (See my post on the “jobs” claims here.)

Here is my testimony:
My name is John Elwood.  I am an evangelical Christian; an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America; a board member of the Evangelical Environmental Network; and I represent The Micah Institute, GreenFaith, and Interfaith Power & Light. 
First Nations chiefs & citizens spoke out against tar sands
Roughly 100 million Americans identify themselves as Evangelicals. We believe that the gospel compels us to care for the created world: that God created all things; that He made mankind with a special mandate to care for all that He has made; that the creation, whether pure or despoiled, is the inheritance of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, in a world where degradation of the earth is responsible for much hunger, sickness, and conflict, we hear the command of Jesus to serve the hungry, homeless and oppressed as “the least of these brothers of mine….”
For these reasons, our faith compels us to urge our leaders, as we follow Christ, not to proceed with the proposed pipeline project.  We take this position for the following reasons:

  1. Exploitation of the tar sands threatens to severely harm human health – especially amongst indigenous peoples – both by the devastation of vast tracts of Canadian ancestral lands and waterways, and by highly likely future threats to American waterways and aquifers.
  2. Tar sands are among the most carbon-polluting of any fuels known to man, with life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions roughly 82% greater than the comparable emissions from conventional petroleum, according to the EPA.  As such, they harm vulnerable people all over the earth. 
  3. At a time when we need to invest heavily in non-carbon-polluting energy solutions, the last-gasp exploitation of non-conventional fuels such as the tar sands represents a huge step backward, wedding our economies to unusually dirty fuels for generations. 
  4. Without this pipeline, the damage from tar sands operations will be restricted for years into the future.  Its expansion depends on this project.  
  5.  The job creation and energy independence touted by promoters of the pipeline are illusory.  Among scores of flaws, they ignore the job-killing impacts of increasingly severe droughts and floods; and the clearly-stated plans by the multi-national oil companies to export the tar sands products, not use them in the U.S.

Oil addiction is killing our soldiers: Gen. Anderson
When we consider these factors, the Keystone XL pipeline directly or indirectly contributes to results which are contrary to the Kingdom of God; harming His Creation; threatening the balances through which He has blessed the earth; and placing a crushing burden upon our children.

We are not experts in the U.S. national interest.  But if God is who our scriptures say He is, such a course cannot be in our interest.

Thank you.

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