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

The Keystone XL Pipeline: An Update

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is back in the news. The U.S. State Department is indicating that it will not include climate change among the top impacts of this dangerous project that would destroy Canada’s boreal forests while unlocking some of the most polluting oil on Earth.

Ten leading climate scientists wrote Secretary Clinton recently, noting how "the vast volumes of carbon in the tar sands ensure that they will play an important role in whether or not climate change gets out of hand." If objective scientists are alarmed enough to speak up, then we, as people of faith, must act. The science is clear: This project poses an unacceptable risk to God’s creation.

The Interfaith Power & Light movement has steadfastly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline on moral grounds because of its extraordinary threat to our climate, as well as North America's food and water supply. To learn more, read on.

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“Tar Sands Pipeline” Keystone XL Update

Last fall, Texans of faith came together to speak out in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline when the State Department held a public hearing in Austin. Then in January, we thanked President Obama for opposing a fast-tracked permit for the project.

Since then, TransCanada has resubmitted a bid for the permit it needs to build across the U.S.-Canadian border, but the Obama administration has put off its decision until after the November 2012 election. Meanwhile, in March 2012, the President voiced support for expediting construction of the Keystone leg extending from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas, calling it a “national priority.”

"For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity." -- Ecclesiastes 3:19       

A Tragedy in the Making

The Keystone XL would be used for transporting bitumen, or “tar sands oil,” from Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, Texas. While standard crude is pumped from deep reservoirs in the earth, tar sands oil is found mixed throughout sandy soil just beneath the Boreal forest floor. The most common method of extraction requires clearcutting and strip-mining the land, leaving behind a desolate wasteland covered with toxic pools. This has damaging effects on communities in the area, many of which are First Nation peoples, and on untold numbers of plant and animal species native to the region. Learn more in a 2009 National Georgraphic article on "The Canadian Oil Boom."

A Crossroads of Conscience

As people of faith, we understand that caring for other people and safeguarding God’s creation are important parts of living a just and righteous life. 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.

“Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof! – “Justice, justice, you shall pursue!” –Deut. 16:20

Texans’ Water Source Endangered

Keystone would cross the vital Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which is estimated to provide drinking water for over 12 million homes across 60 Texas counties. A tar sands oil spill in this fragile aquifer would be disastrous. We must ensure access to a safe, reliable water source as part of creating and sustaining healthy communities—and this pipeline puts our water and health at unnecessary risk.

Statements Against the Keystone XL

Interfaith Power and Light Statements on Tar Sands

Austin's Interfaith Environmental Network Statement on Keystone

Top Climate Scientists to State Department: Keystone XL Review Should Consider Climate Effects

Take Action

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper or host an educational forum at your congregation. Please contact us for more ways to take action, and stay tuned here for updates.

Faith in the Process: The EPA Carbon Proposed Rule

 

Right now, the public has a golden opportunity to let its voice be heard on a key resolution that would pave the way for cleaner air in coming years. From now, until June 25th, 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is gathering comments on a proposal that would limit the CO2 emissions of coal plants constructed after the new standards go into effect. No such limits exist today on the national level and the proposal would not affect existing plants or those built within the next twelve months.

Please take a moment to voice your support for these standards here, or continue reading to learn more.    

According to the EPA, reducing CO2 (or carbon) emissions from coal-burning energy plants is vital for improving overall air quality because, as the EPA puts it, “Power plants are the largest individual sources of carbon pollution in the United States…”[1] Limiting CO2 emissions is important because, in addition to rising smog levels in urban centers and the need for Ozone Action Days to protect the public, mounting evidence links increased CO2 levels to the destructive effects of climate change and a number of health-related threats (asthma, heart disease, and other respiratory complications to name a few).

Given these dangers, the moral dimensions of today’s energy choices are apparent. Decisions made today will affect future generations, the health and wellbeing of other species, and life on this planet as a whole.   

Drawing inspiration from differing sacred traditions, our faiths share common themes of responsible stewardship, compassion for the defenseless, and voluntary restraint from excessive consumption. Along with these, our faiths support the pursuit of justice, respect for the dignity of others, and a sense of shared responsibility within our communities. All of these come into play when considering the caustic potential of unchecked emission limits.

Grounded in the teachings of our various traditions, we recognize the need to make ecologically prudent choices for the protection of all, even when this means sacrificing what may come easiest or cheapest. If you agree, please voice your support by signing the above petition.   

 

To view a quick fact sheet published by the EPA, click here.

 

To read the entire proposal, click here.

 

 

June Interfaith Environmental Conference Call: The EPA, Global Warming, and You

Click here to listen to the archived recording of this call

Our June interfaith environmental conference call will be Wednesday, June 20th from 12 to 1 p.m. For this call, we are excited to welcome guest presenter Tyler Edgar, the Assistant Director of the Climate and Energy Campaign from the National Council of Churches’ Eco Justice Program. Tyler heads the Council’s work to address global warming, is a seasoned organizer, and was a UPS Scholar at Dartmouth’s Tuck Business School Non-Profit Bridge Program. She holds a B.A. in environmental policy from Colby College and is an active Episcopalian.

Tyler will be giving us information about the higher carbon emission standards recently proposed by the EPA why their adoption is so vital for America’s future. We will also learn about the many health implications linked to high carbon emissions, along with ways people can engage such issues on local and national levels.

This month’s call will also feature a guest facilitator—our very own Sarah Macias! Sarah serves on the steering committee for Austin’s Interfaith Environmental Network, the local chapter of Texas Interfaith Power and Light. Following a twenty five year career in park management, Sarah has now begun her second year in the Master of Divinity program at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She has a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Austin Community College, a Certificate in Spiritual Formation from Columbia Theological Seminary, and has recently completed the requirements for a Certificate in Environmental Ministry and Leadership from McCormick Theological Seminary. 

Given their backgrounds, the conversation between these two is bound to be both rousing and informative!

Depending on interests and questions, we also intend to cover starting local, interfaith, environmental networks for those interested. There will also be time for callers to ask questions, share ideas and connect!

 

June Interfaith Environmental Conference Call
     Wednesday, Jne 20, 2012, 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 Sarah. As always, 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.

May Interfaith Environmental Conference Call: Changes to the Open Beaches Act

Click here to listen to the archived recording of this call.

The Texas Open Beaches Act has guaranteed public access to Texas beaches for decades, but a recent Texas Supreme Court ruling prioritizes private property rights over public access in some cases when the beachfront moves inland. Given that global warming conditions mean that storms will be more frequent and severe, and that coastlines in general will be moving inland, this new ruling poses some interesting questions about our beaches.

For our May interfaith environmental conference call, we are excited to welcome Dr. Richard McLaughlin, Endowed Chair for Marine Policy and Law of the Harte Research Institute, Gulf of Mexico Studies at the Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. Dr. McLaughlin will offer a briefing about the Texas Open Beaches Act--its history and purpose, and the recent changes it's seen in court. Together, we'll wonder what these changes mean for the future of Texas beaches.

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

May Interfaith Environmental Conference Call

     Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

     Dial-in number: (712) 432-3066 

     Conference Code: 424548

To RSVP for the call 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.

Texans Can Save Sales Tax on Energy Efficient Appliances

The opportunity for Texans to save money on energy efficient appliances is fast approaching. The state’s annual ENERGY STAR® Sales Tax Holiday is from Saturday May 26 through Monday May 28, 2012
 
“As Texans focus on their household budgets, they can save twice on energy efficient appliances purchased during Memorial Day weekend,” Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said. “Shoppers do not have to pay sales tax on the appliances, and those energy efficient products will also help them save on their utility bills.”
 
The sales tax break applies to ENERGY STAR® qualified air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less; refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less; ceiling fans; fluorescent light bulbs; clothes washers; dishwashers; dehumidifiers; and programmable thermostats.
 
Estimated annual energy and water savings for eligible products are as follows.
 
ENERGY STAR® Appliance vs. Conventional
Appliance Type Energy Savings Water Savings
Central Air Conditioners 14%  
Room/Window Air Conditioners 10%  
Refrigerators 20%  
Ceiling Fans 50%  
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs 75%  
Clothes Washers 30% 50%
Dish Washers 10% 12%
Dehumidifiers 15%  
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
 
The federal government does not apply ENERGY STAR® certification to clothes dryers. There is more information on the sales tax holiday at www.texaspowerfulsmart.org/incentives/taxfree.php.

TXIPL in Houston - May 8, 2012

Texas is a big state! In order to provide an effective religious response to our shared environmental challenges, we need local teams on the ground in cities and regions across the state. Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL) supports the development of local, interfaith environmental networks—and is coming to Houston to start the conversation.

Amanda Robinson, Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL), will offer a presentation on Tuesday, May 8th about creating a local, interfaith environmental network in Houston. This program is co-sponsored by Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston.

Come be part of the conversation! Details are below.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
Congregation Brith Shalom
4610 Bellaire Boulevard
Bellaire, TX 77401
713-667-9201

To RSVP or ask questions, e-mail Amanda.

_____________________

Want to invite friends and colleagues? Great! Check out the event page on facebook here.

Here's some language you can use for an e-mail:

Dear friend,

I am writing to invite you to participate in a conversation about how the faith community can work together to create a local, interfaith environmental network in Houston. Amanda Robinson, Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL), will offer a presentation on Tuesday, May 8th, co-sponsored by Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, about local networks--and facilitate a discussion about how Houston can faithfully organize around the environmental challenges we face.

Please join us, and invite others from your religious community!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
Congregation Brith Shalom
4610 Bellaire Boulevard
Bellaire, TX 77401
713-667-9201

For more information, visit the TXIPL story about this opportunity: http://txipl.org/content/txipl-houston-may-8-2012

If you have questions, would like more information, or if you’re ready to RSVP, please e-mail Amanda: amanda@texasimpact.org. Thank you,

Your name here

Celebrate Earth Day with Faith, Food, and Friends

In conjunction with our national partner, Interfaith Power & Light, we are pleased to offer access to this year’s Cool Harvest kit, which includes tools and resources to help your religious community think about connections between the food we eat and our impacts on the environment.
Click here to order your free Cool Harvest kits!

Earth Day in Your Community

In Dallas and Fort Worth, people from different religious traditions will gather for a shared meal to build community and explore ways they might work together on local environmental concerns. If you’re in the area, you’re invited to one of these vegetarian potlucks! Here’s info about Fort Worth’s potluck on April 19th, and Dallas’s potluck on April 26th.

Earth Day in Your Congregation

There are all kinds of ways to celebrate Earth Day in your congregation! Consider these SWIMming ideas:

Stewardship – As a community, commit to increased recycling; switch from Styrofoam plates & cups to re-usable or compostable products; organize a weatherizing work party to seal around doors and windows; upgrade to more energy-efficient lighting…

Worship – Include a message about our religious responsibility to care for the environment in your worship service. Check out our religious resources on caring for creation. Or consider adding a “gratitude moment” to your service—a short space for reflecting on the beauty and gifts of the earth. This is a simple way we can be more attentive to the natural world and our place in it.

Instruction – Include teachings about caring for God’s creation in educational offerings for children, youth, and adults. Go on a nature hike—or, as a community, walk the neighborhood by your house of worship. Just being outside together can be a wonderful way to connect to nature and to each other.

Mission – As a community, commit to engaging in an action project. Maybe different education classes or committees can develop a rotating schedule of responsibility for a new, on-site vegetable garden. Or your house of worship could advocate for policies that would better care for people and the planet that we share.

There are so many ways to make a difference. Just jump in and start SWIMming, and let us know how we can help!

Faith, Food, and Friends: Building Interfaith Community in Dallas

Join us on Thursday evening, April 26th at for an interfaith, vegetarian, potluck meal as people from different religious traditions gather to build community and explore ways we might work together on local environmental concerns.

On March 6th, over thirty people from different congregations came together in Dallas to learn about creating a local, interfaith, environmental network. This April potluck is our next gathering, where we look forward to getting to know each other better and to making plans for continued collaboration. Please join us!

Thursday, April 26th, 2012, 6:30 p.m.
Lovers Lane United Methodist Church
9200 Inwood Rd (corner of Inwood Rd & Northwest Hwy)
Dallas, TX 75220

Amanda from Texas Interfaith Power & Light plans to join us. Please send her an email to RSVP, and bring a vegetarian dish to share.

Location details

We will meet in room:  CFC 103 - 105 (Christ Family Center)

Enter the church parking lot from Inwood Road and park in Green Parking area.
(You can enter from NW Hwy but you will need to drive around the buildings
to the green parking area on the Inwood Rd. access)

Enter the CFC (Christ Family Center) from the parking lot through the double
doors under the porte-cochere. The Gym will be on your left. Proceed
down the entry stairs and turn to your right at the bottom of the stairs, then proceed down the hall to the end, which ends at the entrance to room 103 - 105.

Faith, Food, and Friends: Building Interfaith Community in Fort Worth

Join us on Thursday evening, April 19th at for an interfaith, vegetarian, potluck meal as people from different religious traditions gather to build community and explore ways we might better work together on local environmental concerns.

On March 5th, forty people from different congregations came together in Fort Worth to learn about creating a local, interfaith, environmental network. This April potluck will be our next gathering, where we look forward to getting to know each other better and to making plans for continued collaboration. Please join us!

Thursday, April 19th, 2012, 6:30 p.m.
First Congregational Church
4201 Trail Lake Dr
Fort Worth TX 76109

Amanda from Texas Interfaith Power & Light plans to join us. Please send her an email to RSVP, and bring a vegetarian dish to share.

April Interfaith Conference Call: Working for a Just Farm Bill

Listen to the archived recording of this call here.

The Farm Bill broadly impacts how food is grown and distributed both here and around the world; it affects federal food assistance programs like SNAP (formerly known as “food stamps”); and since our food system has huge impacts on the environment, the Farm Bill has environmental ramifications as well.

For our April interfaith environmental conference call, we are excited to welcome three representatives from the Jewish Farm Bill Working Group to offer a range of perspectives on this important legislation. A coalition of national Jewish organizations, the Working Group recently issued a Jewish Platform for a Just Farm Bill.

Josh Protas, Vice President and Washington Director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, will join us for the call--along with Sarah Levinson, Assistant Director of COEJL (Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life); and Dahlia Rockowitz, Policy Associate on the Reverse Hunger campaign, from the American Jewish World Service. Together, they'll help us understand how the Farm Bill impacts hunger both at home and abroad, how it affects the environment and global warming, and how we as people of faith can work toward a just Farm Bill.

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

April Interfaith Environmental Conference Call

     Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

     Dial-in number: (712) 432-3066 

     Conference Code: 424548

To RSVP for the call 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.

____________________

Photo by KevinLallier (Attribution via Flickr Creative Commons)

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