On February 6, leaders from numerous church and faith communities (including ours) added their voices to the call for the Environmental Protection Agency to implement rules protecting the creation from excessive greenhouse gas emissions from new electric power plants. Among them was Creation Justice Ministries, the creation-care voice of 37 Christian denominations. One notable contribution by CJM was their reasonable observation that creating huge quantities of CO2 from coal plants, and then injecting it into the ground (carbon capture & storage, or CCS) is not a riskless idea, and should not be regarded as a permanent solution without further study.
CJM was represented by Tricia Bruckbauer; here is her testimony:
Creation Justice Ministries
My name is Tricia Bruckbauer and I am here on behalf of Creation Justice Ministries. We represent 37 Christian denominations and their policies relating to creation care. We are a diverse group from mainline Protestants to Baptists, and Orthodox traditions to evangelicals. One of the few things that we all agree on is the need to care for God’s planet and seek justice for those being harmed by environmental carelessness.
I sat in this seat a few months ago to comment on carbon regulations for existing power plants. I am here today to offer our faith community’s response to the rule on new power plants. We view climate change as the moral issue of our time, and feel we have an obligation to reverse the implications of our careless actions. As Christians, we are called to be stewards of the land that was gifted to us and ensure that we leave this planet better for the next generation.
While we have a responsibility to the planet and to honor and maintain the great gifts of clean water, air and land, we also are called to care for our neighbors. Climate change disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations such as communities of color, low-income communities, women, and children. We must ensure that we are doing all that we can to improve the health and quality of life of our neighbors that generally contribute the least to pollution and our changing climate, but suffer the most.
You have stated that the implementation of this rule is not expected to impact electricity prices or reliability. We must ensure that this becomes a reality and specifically that low income consumers do not bear heavy burdens from this necessary rule.
Our faith community fully supports the overall goal of this rule, however we have concerns regarding the inclusion of carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS) as an option for reducing carbon emissions for new power plants. We do not yet fully understand the impacts of CCS on the Earth, the long term effectiveness of storing carbon dioxide underground, or the impacts this may have on our communities. Instead, states and utilities around the country should be investing in proven renewable technologies. We urge you to reconsider the inclusion of CCS; however, in no way should this slow the timeline for implementation of this rule.
Last week, in his State of the Union speech, President Obama stated that “when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.” As a recent college graduate, I am part of that next generation; a child who inherited a changing climate. So while I am driven by my faith and call to care for the earth, I am also compelled to speak out because this is my future. It is a sad and frightening reality when it has become normal to vilify the EPA, and radical to ask for clean air and water. Jobs and profits are tangible benefits that I can understand and value. Climate change and health impacts for future generations seem abstract, but I cannot believe that earning profits will mean anything if my brothers and sisters do not have a safe and healthy planet to live on.
Christians believe that we are merely tenants on this earth, and therefore we are connected to those that came before us and those that come after. This means that we are dependent on the decisions of the past and the next generations will be dependent on the decisions we are making right now.
Whether you ascribe to a Christian worldview or not, there is no denying that there is a moral imperative to care for the Earth.
I want to leave you with a quote from Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a German pastor that was instrumental in the Nazi resistance during World War II, so it is safe to assume he can speak to morality. He writes, “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” Let’s hope that we can continue to take steps forward to ensure that we not only pass this test, but excel.