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

August 5 Austin Clean Power Plan Press Conference

On Wednesday, August 5, Austin’s Mayor Steve Adler, Representative Donna Howard, many City Council members, and a host of Austinites joined together at Austin City Hall for a press conference in support of President Obama’s recently announced Clean Power Plan, which places limits on carbon pollution from power plants across the nation.

Mayor Steve Adler opened the event by pointing to the floods, drought, and wildfires that have affected Austin and the surrounding areas in recent years as symptoms of climate change. “While the time for action on climate and carbon pollution was long ago, I applaud President Obama and the EPA for making history by bringing forward the Clean Power Plan to put common sense limits on carbon pollution from power plants,” Mayor Adler said.

The Clean Power Plan set forth by President Obama and the EPA requires a 32 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the power sector's 2005 levels by 2030 and encourages more use of renewable energy resources such as solar and wind.

Multiple City Council members spoke in favor of the new plan and its goals of mitigating climate change. Delia Garza of District 2 recounted stories of her constituents who experienced firsthand the Onion Creek flooding that devastated parts of Southeast Austin in the fall of 2013, and said that decreasing carbon pollution can save future communities from similar destruction. Greg Casar of District 4 said that attacks on the Clean Power Plan are short-sighted and that, rather than detrimentally affecting working class Texans, a move to renewable energy has the potential to provide new jobs for employees who may lose power plant jobs. “I, along with my colleagues, am up to the challenge of bridging the political divide and making sure we protect our environment,” Casar said.

A nurse with the Texas Physicians for Social Responsibility spoke about the health impacts brought on by climate change. She focused on asthma, which affects nearly 1 in 4 children in Texas and is caused by particulate matter in the air—these particulates are greatly increased by pollutants from coal-fired plants. By cleaning up our air, she said, we can create healthier lives for children, the elderly, and everyone in between.

Reverend Amelia Fulbright spoke on behalf of Texas Impact and many Texans of faith. She emphasized just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, and commitment to society. Here’s what she said:

“In the book of Genesis, we are entrusted with the stewardship of creation -- called to be caretakers, not destroyers. We have a moral and spiritual obligation to protect the environment, both for ourselves and for future generations. And when I think about future generations, it is not an abstract concept to me. I think very concretely about my daughter and her potential children. And I think about the very real inevitably that if you and I and the state of Texas don’t make serious changes now, my daughter will not know the joy of living, working, and playing in a safe, clean, hospitable world.  

The great 13th c. Catholic Saint Francis of Assisi, known for his attention to the natural world, said:“Remember that when you leave this earth you can take nothing of what you have received, but only what you have a given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.”

Today, all across the world, people of faith are responding to the crisis of climate change. Pope Francis, who chose to be named after Saint Francis, draws clear connections between our treatment of the earth and the suffering of the poor. In his recent encyclical on ecology, he writes: “...Everything is interconnected, and...genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice, and faithfulness to others.”

Scripture tells us that the sins of the fathers will be visited upon their children, up to the third and fourth generations. I believe this to be true in the sense that if climate change continues undeterred on its current trajectory, you and I will be to blame. The Clean Power Plan is a crucial first step in combating climate change by allowing Texas to create a plan of its own to reduce carbon pollution. The choice is not between caring for the environment OR creating jobs. The choice is between thinking only of ourselves OR thinking about the legacy we will leave to our children and grandchildren.  

Until now, there have been no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that power plants could dump into our air, wreaking havoc on our health and our climate.  May we have the moral courage to act now for a better tomorrow, for the sake of all the world’s children.”

For more information about the Clean Power Plan and how you can support climate action, visit the Texas Interfaith Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Clean Power Plan and Texas

The Clean Power Plan gives us the first-ever national standards on carbon pollution from power plants. While the electric power sector is responsible for nearly 40 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution in the United States—our largest single source—until now there have been no national limits on the amount of carbon pollution these plants can pump into the air. 

The Clean Power Plan will bring health and climate benefits:

  • When the Clean Power Plan is fully in place in 2030, carbon pollution from the power sector will be 32 percent below 2005 levels – or 870 million tons less carbon pollution.
  • Reducing exposure to particle pollution and ozone in 2030 will avoid a projected 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths; 90,000 asthma attacks in children; up to 1,700 heart attacks; 1,700 hospital admissions; and 300,000 missed school and work days.
  • From the soot and smog reductions alone, for every dollar invested through the Clean Power Plan – American families will see up to $4 in health benefits.
  • Due to increased energy efficiency, the Clean Power Plan is projected to reduce electric bills by about $7 per month by 2030. 

State-Specific Goals

The plan sets state-specific goals for reducing CO2 emissions from the power sector in order to allow the states flexibility in meeting the reductions targets.

There are many ways states can cut their emissions, including:

  • Installing new clean energy such as wind and solar power;   
  • Shutting down high-polluting coal plants;
  • Improving the efficiency of fossil-fuel power plants;
  • Making homes and buildings more energy-efficient;
  • Enacting a state-level tax on carbon pollution.

A Look at Texas

The carbon pollution reduction goals for Texas are moderate as compared to other states. Texas emits the highest amount of carbon pollution in the country. In the plan, Texas is expected to reduce its carbon pollution by 34 percent by 2030. Because of our use of wind and natural gas, Texas is already moving closer to the new EPA target.

Taking Moral Action on Climate

The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, President and Founder of Interfaith Power & Light, says in a statement about the Clean Power Plan: 

I applaud the EPA for moving forward with these landmark rules. It’s an important step in addressing climate change, which is not just a matter of science or policy, but one of faith. Congregations across the country are responding to the moral obligation to care for creation, so I suspect faith communities will be a primary voice calling on their leaders in Congress to support this rule.

Call Congress to Support the Clean Power Plan

Senator John Cornyn: 202-224-2934

Senator Ted Cruz: (202) 224-5922

Find out who your Congressional representative is here. Then contact that office directly, or call the main House switchboard: (202)225-3121.

Pope Francis Releases Encyclical on the Environment, "Laudato Si'"

On Thursday, June 18, 2015, Pope Francis issued a new papal encyclical, a much-anticipated pastoral statement on the environment. The statement, known as a "papal encyclical" is entitled Laudato Si' (Praised Be)—a quotation from St. Francis’s prayer praising God for creation.

En Español.

What is an encyclical?

Encyclicals are formal letters issued by a pope to the universal Catholic Church concerning moral, doctrinal, and disciplinary matters. It is a teaching document for bishops and Catholics everywhere.

What does this encyclical say?

In “Praised Be,” Pope Francis teaches that the Catholic voice on climate change is clear and distinct and stands in protection of Creation and all of God’s children.

Calling climate " a common good, belonging to all and meant for all," (Laudato Si’ 23) Pope Francis calls for a "new and universal solidarity" (LS 14) in defense of Creation.

The encyclical calls for a broader recognition of "both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor," (LS 49) pointing out that the poor suffer the most from consequences of improper care of the environment, even though they have contributed the least to climate change (LS 51).

Pope Francis argues that the climate challenges we face require an intergenerational effort and a reimagining of local, national and international responses. He writes, "Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress." (LS 194)

The encyclical concludes with calls for a renewed notion of the common good, grounded in the obligation we have to future generations to address climate change, and insistence that we must all act to care for Creation.

"Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal." (LS 202)

Why is this encyclical important?

The Pope is one of the most popular public figures in the world, both inside and outside of the Church. The release of “Praised Be” offers inspiration to faith leaders and organizations across the globe to come together to amplify a common message of caring for our shared home.

The timing of the Encyclical’s release is especially important in light of the global climate talks that will take place in Paris at the end of this year. Now is the time for all people, everywhere, to raise a common call for world leaders to take meaningful action on climate change at the UN climate negotiations in December.

People of Faith Taking Action

Here are some ways that people of all religious traditions are heeding the Pope’s moral call to action—and some ways you and your congregation can be involved.

Take the Paris Pledge

In December, leaders from across the world will meet in Paris to negotiate an agreement on how the global community can take action on climate at the governmental level.

The Paris Pledge is a bold two-step commitment that individuals and congregations can make today to take action on climate. When you sign the Paris Pledge, you commit to cutting your carbon pollution in half by the year 2030, and to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Learn more and take the Pledge here.

One Earth, One Human Family: Interfaith March into St. Peter’s Square

On Sunday, June 28, Catholics, people of diverse faiths, and others will take part in a march from Piazza Farnese in Rome to St. Peter's Square in Vatican City. The march will be called One Earth, One Human Family.

That same day, faith communities around the world are invited to join a Global Climate Chorus—to ring their bells, sound their gongs or chimes, sound their shofars, or offers prayers outdoors in solidarity.

Learn more here.

A Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis

Hundreds of rabbis have signed a Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis, calling for vigorous action to prevent worsening climate disruption and to seek eco-social justice. A brief excerpt: "We believe that there is both danger and hope in American society today, a danger and a hope that the American Jewish community, in concert with our sisters and brothers in other communities of Spirit, must address. The danger is that America is the largest contributor to the scorching of our planet.  The hope is that over and over in our history, when our country faced the need for profound change, it has been our communities of moral commitment, religious covenant, and spiritual search that have arisen to meet the need. So it was fifty years ago during the Civil Rights movement, and so it must be today."

Read the full text of the letter and, if you are a rabbi, sign onto the letter here.

World leaders need to see massive support for climate action from diverse faith communities.

Please stay tuned for more updates and ways to take action!


Additional Resources


  1. Photo "Canonization 2014-The Canonization of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II" by Flickr User Aleteia Image Department licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
  2. Photo "Pope Francecso I" by Flickr User Jeffrey Bruno licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.
  3. Photo "Vatican Easter Mass 73" by Flickr User Karl Villanueva licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license.

Spring 2015 Interfaith Environmental Stewardship Event, Houston

Join with people of all faiths—or no faith at all—in caring for our shared environment on World Water Day!

On Sunday, March 22nd, from 1:30-4:30pm, we will engage in hands-on environmental stewardship by removing invasive species and planting native plants in wetlands at the Willow Waterhole Conservation Reserve. This event will offer activities for all ages and skill levels, so bring the whole family, neighbors, and friends!

Meet at the Gathering Place, located at 5310 South Willow Drive, Houston, to sign in. Metro Bus lines 33 and 163 stop nearby. Tools and supplies will be available, but participants are asked to bring empty milk jugs or soda bottles to use in watering the new plants. In addition, those who can are asked to bring wheelbarrows, rakes, and shovels, to ensure sufficient quantities for volunteers.

This event is organized by Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church, Congregation Brith Shalom, and the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, in partnership with the Willow Waterhole Greenspace Conservancy. The Conservancy requires signature of a waiver to participate.

Contact Lisa at gcs.lrc@gmail.com or (713) 372-7345 for more information, to sign up, or to get a copy of the waiver form.

The site of the "trash bash" conducted at the Fall 2014 Interfaith Environmental Stewardship Event.

You're Invited! Austin's Second-Annual Preach-Off on Climate Change

In February 2015, religious communities across the U.S. will participate in the national Interfaith Power & Light Preach-In on Climate Change. Clergy and lay leaders from many different traditions will highlight the importance of religious leadership on one of the most pressing challenges of our time. It’s one of Interfaith Power & Light’s most-beloved annual programs.

In Austin, we’re taking it up a notch.

Austin’s Interfaith Environmental Network and iACT (Interfaith Action of Central Texas) are inviting religious leaders to share their tradition’s wisdom with not just their own congregations, but with the entire community. Back by popular demand, we are holding our second-annual Preach-Off on Climate Change—and we invite you to come!

Sunday, February 8, 2015, 4:00 p.m.
The Sanctuary
2614 Exposition Blvd.
Austin, TX 78703

What to expect: Learning, community-building, inspiration, and laughter! Our goal is to make this a playful, interactive program that doesn’t skimp on the gravity of the topic at hand or our traditions’ power to help guide us—but that doesn’t skimp on the simple joy and celebration of life and love, either.

  • Religious leaders from a variety of congregations and traditions will share brief teachings (3-5 minutes each) from the messages they delivered to their own communities as part of the Preach-In on Climate Change.
  • We’ll have “judges.” (It's fun. We promise!)
  • We’ll have an announcer.
  • We’ll offer ideas about how you and your community can stay involved and take action on this very real challenge.

We can’t wait to learn, laugh, and take action on climate change with you.

For more information, to R.S.V.P., or to ask about participating as a speaker, please contact Yaira Robinson or Sarah Macias.

Lutherans Restoring Creation Team Invites You to Participate in the 2014 Eco Challenge

This October, the Lutherans Restoring Creation Team of the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod is participating in the EcoChallenge, and they invite you and your congregation to join them! For two weeks (October 15-29) you and your congregation will choose one action to reduce your environmental impact. The EcoChallenge website can help you choose a challenge (or create your own challenge) and log your progress over the two-week period. Here’s more from EcoChallenge:

“Congregations can form teams, but each individual, family, or other group can chose their own challenge after joining the team.  You can also sign up as an individual or a family or a group of friends without joining a team.  The Eco-Challenge is a competition, with points tallied and prizes at the national level to incentivize your active participation.”

Learn more at www.ecochallenge.org or contact the synod Lutherans Restoring Creation Team via email.

Sign up today and join us October 15-29th in a statewide effort to “better care for God’s good creation.”

San Antonio IPL | Teaming With Wildlife: The State of Nature in Texas | October 16, 2014

What: San Antonio Power and Light Teaming With Wildlife event
Where: Unity Church of San Antonio, 1711 W Lawndale Dr, San Antonio, TX 78209
When: October 16, 2014, 7-8:30PM

Wildlife Biologist Richard Heilbrun will present “The State of Nature” in Texas, and discuss emerging issues facing our state’s natural resources, including a grassroots effort to speak for the wildlife that cannot speak for themselves. Managing Texas’s critters and wild places means involving all Texans in the “Conservation Conversation.” Richard will discuss how we can participate in “Keeping Texas Wild!”

This is a stop on Compassionate San Antonio's Pilgrimage of Compassion.

Learn more on Facebook.

Austin Interfaith Environmental Network | Your Congregation CAN Go Solar! | October 7, 2014

Many of Austin's houses of worship would LOVE to protect Creation by installing solar panels, helping to meet their energy needs in a green, renewable way! Yet many of these same congregations have yet to take the plunge. If you belong to one of these "on the fence" communities, then you know that the best intentions can get bogged down in all kinds of confusing questions:

  • How can we deal with the startup costs?
  • How much will we really save on our electric bill?
  • What's the current status of rebates and other government incentives?
  • How can Austin Energy help us?
  • What are the congregational politics of such a project and how can they be dealt with?
  • How do we choose a contractor?

Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin Has Answers!


Solar Installation
St. David's Episcopal, Austin

Early Solar Installation Photo
Congregation Beth Israel, Austin

Interfaith Environmental Network of Austin is proud to present our Fall Symposium:

What: Symposium: "It's Time For Your Congregation To Go Solar!"
When: Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 7 to 8:30 p.m
Where: St. David's Episcopal Church, 301 E. 8th Street, Austin, TX

The evening's program will feature:

  • Leslie Libby of Austin Energy on installing solar.
  • Volunteer solar project leaders from three Austin congregations telling the stories of their community's journey to solar energy.
  • Time for discussion and visits with representatives of three solar contractors who have completed congregational projects in Austin:
    Meridian Solar, Lighthouse Solar and Texas Solar Power
  • Fellowship and networking with members of other congregations!

Texas Lutheran University Environmental Justice Symposium: Sept-Oct, 2014

The theme of Texas Lutheran University's annual Krost Symposium is "Environmental Justice: Texan Responses to Global Crises," and examines how people are impacted by their environment. All events will take place at Texas Lutheran University, 1000 West Court Street, Seguin, Texas 78155.

The symposium will take place in four segments:

  • September 3-4, 6
  • September 17-8, 29
  • October 8-9
  • October 27-28

Check out www.tlu.edu/krost for a full list of speakers and events for each segment.

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