If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.
--Lyndon B. Johnson

Interfaith Service of Public Prayer and Purpose Kicks Off Austin's Keystone XL Hearing

September 28, 2011

AUSTIN—Texas religious leaders led an interfaith prayer service at the LBJ Fountain on the UT Campus this morning immediately before the start of US State Department hearings on a controversial international oil pipeline. Worship leaders representing Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Unitarian Universalist and Jewish traditions offered prayers, readings and meditations that highlighted the interconnected nature of life on earth and called for renewed stewardship of our shared resources.

Faith communities across the nation are coming out in strong opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Texas gulf coast. Faith opposition includes concern for Canadian indigenous peoples, concern for the climate, and increasing alarm at potential risks to Texas’ water supply.

Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL), a statewide religious environmental network, sponsored the service. TXIPL is one of 38 state Interfaith Power & Light affiliates. The national movement includes more than 14,000 religious congregations and supports sustainable clean energy solutions.

Amanda Yaira Robinson, Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power and Light, said the Jewish theme of teshuvah, or “turning,” offers wisdom for consideration of the controversial pipeline. “We are told that this pipeline will create new jobs, but it will also create new problems. My hope and prayer as Rosh Hashanah begins this evening,” she said, “is that we as a nation will do some teshuvah, some turning, and choose a path of life and health for all people and the planet that we share.” Robinson said that teshuvah is central to the Jewish High Holy Days. She noted that no Texas rabbis could participate in the service or the State Department hearing because of the conflict with the major religious holiday, but said that several rabbis have authored a joint statement to be presented at the hearing.

Rev. Meg Barnhouse of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin said, “One of the core principles of our faith is an understanding that we are part of an interconnected web of life. So when we cut down boreal forests in Canada for tar sands mining, we are contributing to global warming, which affects the entire planet.”

Sister Elizabeth Riebschlaeger, of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, called attention to the risk the pipeline presents to water resources. “The path of this pipeline would cut through the Carrizo Aquifer in east Texas. A spill there would be devastating for the communities who depend on its water.”

Kosho McCall, Teacher and Head Priest at the Austin Zen Center, highlighted the Buddhist principle of ahimsa, or “no-harm,” saying, “When we consider what action to take, we must include in our deliberations the effects our actions will have on others.”

Rev. Tim Tutt, pastor of United Christian Church of Austin, voiced concern about increased air pollution that would be created in the Houston area as a result of refining tar sands oil there. “The refining of this heavy tar sands oil emits more dangerous toxins in the air than conventional oil does. That spells trouble for our neighbors in Houston, especially children and the elderly, who suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems.”

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For more information contact yaira@texasinterfaith.org

Interfaith Service of Public Prayer and Purpose before Austin's Keystone XL Hearing

Please join us in Austin on Wednesday, September 28th at 10:30 a.m., before the U.S. State Department hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline begins, for an interfaith prayer service. Religious leaders of different traditions will frame the day by offering words and readings, prayer and meditation. This interfaith service of prayer and purpose will be held just outside the LBJ Library. Please join us and invite others.

Texas Jewish Leaders’ Statement on the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline

The U.S. State Department is holding a series of hearings to collect public input into the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, giving citizens an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way in this decision-making process. On Wednesday, September 28th, one of the hearings will be held in Austin, TX, and religious leaders from different traditions will participate. Some will contribute prayers and readings at our interfaith prayer service at 10:30 a.m. that morning, and some will offer testimony at the hearing.

Because the date of this hearing conflicts with the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days and marks the first evening of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, the Texas Jewish community's participation will be understandably limited on the day of the hearing. Working with the Jewish community, we offer this statement and invite Texas Jewish leaders to add their names by signing on. Texas Interfaith Power & Light leaders will read and submit this statement at the September 28th hearing on behalf of those who sign on, making it part of the public testimony.

Texas Jewish Leaders’ Statement on the Proposed Keystone XL Pipeline

As Texas Jewish leaders, we encourage our nation’s leaders to create new jobs for Americans and reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil in ways that protect the health of people, wildlife and the environment. Construction of the proposed 1,661-mile Keystone XL pipeline that would carry bitumen from Alberta, Canada to Houston, Texas would be a harmful step in the wrong direction.

The mining of this kind of oil in Canada’s pristine boreal forests is incredibly destructive for habitat, wildlife and human life—and it significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions at a critical time in our effort to combat global warming. In addition, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would run through environmentally-sensitive areas in the U.S., including the Ogallala Aquifer. The Ogallala provides 30% of the groundwater for American agriculture—as well as about 80% of the drinking water for people who live within the aquifer’s boundary; an oil spill here would be disastrous.

This evening marks the first day of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, when we celebrate the creation of the world. Our tradition teaches:

When God created Adam, He led him around the Garden of Eden and said to him: “Behold my works! See how beautiful they are, how excellent! All that I have created, for your sake did I create it. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy my world; for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.” –Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13

Constructing this pipeline would commit our nation to years of increased carbon emissions at a time when it is increasingly clear that global warming threatens to spoil and destroy our world for generations to come. Let us instead work together to find solutions that are healthy for all people and the planet, for there is no one to repair it after us. We urge the State Department and President Obama to deny the request from TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline.

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To add your name to this statement, please click here.

Urge Secretary Clinton to Say No to the Keystone XL Pipeline

As the U.S. State Department is considering whether to approve a request from TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, you can send your comments and concerns urging Secretary Clinton to say no to this dangerous project.

Your comments can be sent through an online form or by postcard:
To print postcards and submit public comment via regular mail, please click here.
To fill out the online form, click here.

If approved the pipeline will carry dirty tar sands crude oil from Canada to Texas, putting the heartland's water supply and food production at risk, and increasing carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Texas Interfaith Power & Light strongly opposes the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on moral grounds.

You can learn more about the Keystone XL Pipeline and Tar Sands by clicking here.

Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin Statement on the Keystone XL Pipeline

The Interfaith Environmental Network (IEN) of Austin issues the following statement about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. In addition to issuing this statement, leaders of IEN plan to testify on this issue at the State Department hearing in Austin on Wednesday, September 28, 2011.

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The Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin, a coalition of individuals and congregations from a variety of faith traditions who are committed to environmental stewardship, is opposed to the request being submitted to the U.S. State Department by TransCanada to construct the Keystone XL pipeline, that would carry bitumencrude petroleum 1,661 miles from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada down to Houston, Texas. 

Our opposition to this proposal is based on several environmental and moral concerns:

1.  We are in agreement with the stated desire of two administrations now within our government (Bush and Obama) to have our nation move away from our "addiction to oil" and to invest in renewable energy sources and better efficiency and conservation practices for important environmental reasons.  This proposed oil pipeline is simply another expensive short-term effort by the oil industry to continue to supply America with fossil fuel, thus circumventing the more urgent need to invest in renewable energy infrastructures for the future that are less harmful to our environment than the continued reliance on fossil fuels.   We believe it is morally and spiritually unconscionable to continue to burden future generations with our reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.  To continue to develop oil pipelines in our country reflects an unwillingness to find the collective will to take the necessary steps to start practicing today prudent stewardship of the earth’s resources for our energy needs.  

2.  Tar sand bitumen is used primarily to produce a synthetic petroleum and the synthetic crude from bitumen is expensive and complicated to produce.  This source of petroleum energy will not be less affordable than other forms of cleaner energy that our nation could invest in without the potential risk of oil line leaks or explosions.

3.  The mining of this kind of oil in Canada’s pristine boreal forests is incredibly destructive for habitat, wildlife and human life—and it significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions at a critical time in our effort to combat global warming. In addition, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would run through environmentally-sensitive areas in the U.S., including the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies 30% of the groundwater for American agriculture—as well as about 80% of the drinking water for people who live within the aquifer’s eight state boundary; where a spill over that aquifer would be disastrous.   As those in the faith community who believe that the care of the earth is a critical spiritual issue for our time, we oppose this attempt by an oil company to place financial gain and the availability of more fossil fuels ahead of environmental protection.

For these reasons we urge the U. S. State Department and the Obama administration to reject the application from TransCanada to build the Keystone XL Pipeline in the United States of America.   

Rev. Sally Bingham Visits Austin Soon

We are thrilled to announce that the Reverend Canon Sally Bingham, President and Founder of the national Interfaith Power and Light, will be in Austin for a series of events, October 21-23, 2011. Rev. Bingham's visit presents the Central Texas community with a unique opportunity to connect around issues of environmental stewardship and explore religious responses to global warming. Below is a basic outline for the weekend; we invite you to participate, and invite your friends!

On Friday evening, October 21st, at All Saints Episcopal Church, 6:30 p.m. All are welcome to join in a celebration of life and the planet that we share, “Arts and the Environment: Under the Same Sky,” a family event complete with art, music and activities. This event will be open to the community. Local artists and musicians, including the Drumsistas, will participate.

On Saturday morning, at All Saints Episcopal Church, from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., a workshop focusing on global warming with Rev. Bingham as the keynote speaker. The event will feature a morning panel presentation and conversation--including Rev. Sally Bingham, founder of Interfaith Power & Light; Dr. Camille Parmesan, Associate Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin; Amanda Robinson, Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power & Light; and Ilan Levin, Associate Director of the Environmental Integrity Project--followed by a light lunch and an early afternoon session of small group discussions. Click here to register for this event.

On Saturday afternoon, Rev. Bingham will be the guest of honor at a small wine and cheese fundraiser. If you are interested in attending this, please send us an e-mail.

On Sunday morning, Rev. Bingham will preach at both services of All Saints Episcopal Church, at 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., with an Interfaith Power & Light Q & A session in-between services.

On Sunday afternoon, student religious groups of different religious traditions from the University of Texas at Austin will gather together for a conversation with Rev. Bingham and other religious leaders. For more information about this event, please send us an e-mail.

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Texas Interfaith Power & Light and All Saints Episcopal Church are delighted to welcome Reverend Canon Sally Bingham to Austin on October 21-23, 2011. Additional co-sponsors include Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, the Seminary of the Southwest, and the Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin.

Rev. Bingham is the President and Founder of The Regeneration Project and Interfaith Power and Light. She serves as Canon for the Environment in the Episcopal Diocese of California and is the lead author of Love God Heal Earth, published by St. Lynn’s Press in 2009. As one of the first faith leaders to fully recognize global warming as a core moral issue, she has mobilized thousands of religious people to put their faith into action through energy stewardship.

For more information about any of these events and ways to get involved, please contact Amanda.

Staff Member Amanda Robinson Tapped for National Leadership

Amanda Yaira Robinson Joins GreenFaith's National Fellowship Program 

Amanda Yaira Robinson, Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power & Light, the environmental program of Texas Impact, has been named a GreenFaith Fellow and will join the 2012 Class of the GreenFaith Fellowship Program. Robinson will join a class of 25 Fellows from diverse religious backgrounds. The Fellows represent over ten religious denominations, including Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Evangelical, Roman Catholic, mainline Protestant, and Unitarian Universalist. 

"I look forward to the opportunity to deepening my training in religious environmentalism and to helping create an environmentally just and sustainable world," Robinson said.

"We're thrilled to welcome Amanda to the program," said Rev. Fletcher Harper, GreenFaith's Executive Director. "We look forward to working with her to support her growth as a religious-environmental leader."

Through three residential retreats, monthly webinars, and extensive reading, Robinson will receive education and training in eco-theology, "greening" the operation of institutions, environmental advocacy, and environmental justice. Each Fellow writes their own eco-theological statement and carries out a leadership project in their community, mobilizing religious leaders in relation to an environmental issue.

About GreenFaith
GreenFaith is an interfaith environmental coalition whose mission is to educate and mobilize diverse religious communities for environmental leadership. Founded in 1992, GreenFaith is a leader in the fast-growing religious-environmental movement and has won national and international recognition for its work. For more information, see www.greenfaith.org.

Statement on the Keystone XL from Interfaith Power & Light

The national office of Interfaith Power & Light recently released this statement about the propsed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Here in Texas, we are coordinating a religious response to the pipeline. If you would like to be involved in any way, including attending and/or testifying at the State Department public hearings (September 26th in Port Arthur or September 28th in Austin), please let us know.

Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline Not in the National Interest

Statement from the Rev. Cn. Sally Bingham, Interfaith Power & Light President

“Interfaith Power & Light strongly opposes the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline on moral grounds because of the extraordinary threat to the global climate, the environment, and to America’s water and food supply. An energy policy that moves the nation toward an even dirtier and more dangerous form of oil, and involves such devastation of God’s Creation, represents a profound moral failure.

“It is misleading for the U.S. State Department to call its latest draft the ‘final’ Environmental Impact Statement prior to the completion of the public input process. There are many important environmental, economic, health, and security implications that must be fully examined, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promised. Interfaith Power & Light sees several reasons why this project is not in the national interest and feels that full consideration of these concerns must not be short-circuited.

“While the project is being framed as a solution to America’s energy needs, the pipeline is actually aimed at America’s Gulf ports and global export. The project will deliver to the world’s markets very dirty, very difficult to extract oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada. Tar sands oil emits up to 82% more carbon pollution than conventional oil according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Leading scientists have registered their opposition to this project, stating that exploiting the tar sands, on top of conventional fossil fuels, will ‘leave our children and grandchildren a climate system with consequences that are out of their control.’ How the report can then conclude the project will have ‘no significant impacts’ defies common sense. We don’t have to do this. The new fuel economy standards for cars and trucks proposed by the Administration will save an estimated 2.5 million barrels of oil a day by 2030 – more than double the amount this pipeline will deliver, and without the risk. As Americans and people of faith, how can we allow this to happen? God gave us the responsibility to be good stewards of Creation and to love our neighbors both local and global.

“All citizens in all impacted localities must have a chance to weigh in during the State Department public hearings in September and October. What new insights will be revealed? The proposed path of the pipeline runs directly over and through nation’s largest aquifer. The Ogallala Aquifer provides 30% of America’s drinking water and irrigates the nation’s Midwest and southern farms — a region known as America’s Breadbasket because it produces so much of our nation’s food.

“Proponents are quick with reassurances of safety and reliability, but TransCanada’s Keystone I has experienced a dozen leaks in its first year, including this spring’s 500-barrel gusher in North Dakota, which forced the Obama administration to shut it down. A similar oil pipeline ruptured in the Yellowstone River last month, spilling 42,000 gallons of crude oil that has contaminated the once pristine waterway for 80 miles. All of this in the wake of the Gulf tragedy makes one wonder, when will we learn that oil and water don’t mix? Risking contamination to our precious water and food resources is morally irresponsible.

“This project undermines American values and global leadership on the issue of climate and environment, and jeopardizes life on the planet. We look to President Obama to lead America into a time of exciting and hopeful change fueled by a clean and sustainable energy future for this and generations to come.”

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Interfaith Power & Light is mobilizing a religious response to global warming in more than 14,000 congregations through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
www.interfaithpowerandlight.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2011
Contact: Andrée Duggan
Interfaith Power & Light
(415) 561-4891 x11
andree at theregenerationproject dot org

September Interfaith Environmental Conference Call: A Look at Fracking

Our September interfaith environmental conference call is scheduled for Wednesday, September 21st at 12:00 p.m. On this call, we'll dig a little deeper into the process of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or "fracking," with two notable guest speakers. We are excited to have Matt Watson, Senior Energy Policy Specialist for the Environmental Defense Fund; and Lois Finkelman, a community leader in Dallas with a long history of public service--as a teacher in public and private schools, urban planner, Dallas City Council member, and president of the Dallas Parks and Recreation Board. She currently serves as Chair of the City of Dallas' Gas Drilling Task Force.

As always, we will have some time for callers to ask questions, share ideas and connect.

September Interfaith Environmental Conference Call

     Wednesday, September 21, 2011, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

     Dial-in number: (712) 432-3066 

     Conference Code: 424548

To RSVP for the call, receive a copy of the call's agenda or request notes from the call, please e-mail Amanda. Feel free to invite others to participate!

In our monthly environmental calls, we seek to connect faith leaders around the state who are engaged in the work of caring for Creation; provide updates about environmental legislation and advocacy opportunities; keep you current on new programs and initiatives; and create a space for sharing hopes and frustrations, plans and ideas, stories and prayers.

TCEQ Website Offers Texans Computer Recycling Options

With back-to-school shopping lists in hand, many Texans are looking to replace their computers this semester. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's TexasRecyclesComputers.org website provides consumers with free options to recycle their computers.

Thanks to a state law, computer manufacturers that sell in, or into, Texas must offer their consumers a free and convenient recycling program for personal and home-business computers. Reusing and recycling conserves natural resources by recovering valuable components and materials that can be used to make new products. Once a computer manufacturer submits a plan for recycling that is approved by the TCEQ, they can be added to the manufacturers list maintained on TexasRecyclesComputers.org.

At the easy-to-use site, consumers select their computer brand on the list, and then click on the manufacturer's name to be redirected to the manufacturer's recycling Web page. If a manufacturer is not on the list, TexasRecyclesComputers.org has other resources available to help recycle old computers. The website also contains downloadable resources to help promote computer recycling, such as ready-to-go articles and banner ads.

TexasRecyclesComputers.org is part of the state's computer recycling program, created by House Bill 2714 in the 80th Legislative Session.

 

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