An honorable clean-up

EPA hearings on the (finally!) proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants took place in the last week of July.  Remarks by PA IPL supporters vary enormously, and are worth reading.  When you’re inspired, submit a written comment of your own. 

johnbechtelGood morning/afternoon:

My name is John Bechtel.  I’m 66 years old, retired, and live in Harrisburg.  I’m an active member in two environmental  groups. One is secular, one is faith-based, and both work hard for the cause of clean air in Pennsylvania.

But I will speak in my own voice today, and I’d like to do that by first telling you a short story from my personal life.  It’s a sort of metaphor for why I put so much time into the climate change movement.

A few years ago, when I was still teaching a 4th grade Sunday School class,  one of the kid’s parents,  an active duty Army Sergeant,  gave me what was for him an urgent call.  It had nothing to do with Sunday School for his 4th grader, for she was away on a church mission trip with his wife at the time.  Rather it was about the urgent need to put his family’s living quarters on the military base into spic n span shape ASAP.  The departure date for his next post-of-duty in Hawaii was closing in fast.  But with his wife and daughter out of town and unable to help,  he had fallen behind schedule with the clean-up work, and needed  to catch up fast.

As I swept, dusted, and scrubbed alongside my friend on that Saturday, it slowly dawned on me that my friend’s all-out  clean-up effort was motivated in large part by what you might call a type of “Code of Honor” among military families.  You have a duty to those who follow you. You owe it to that next family to restore your living quarters to tip top shape before you go.

I can’t say where I’ll go for my next post-of-duty.  Unless I clean up my own act soon, it may look and feel a lot more like God’s idea of Afghanistan than Hawaii. And while this story works for me, it’s a poor metaphor for the gravity of the threat of climate change, which goes far beyond the threat that soot, ash, and trash pose to the environment and to public health.  But as long as I’m at this post-of-duty,   I’ll do my best to restore our corner of  “Mother Earth” to somewhat the same shape as I found Her upon my arrival back in 1948. That’s what I feel is the duty I owe to those who will follow.

That’s also why I will pray that you put in place, monitor, and above all enforce a strong Clean Power Plan to limit industrial carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. The science is settled. Climate change driven by global warming poses an existential threat to Americans.  We have a sacred responsibility to leave our children with a safe climate. But like my friend in the story, we are falling behind schedule on our clean-up job and we need to catch up fast.  Carbon emissions are the primary cause of climate change, and coal-fired power plants are the primary cause of carbon emissions in the USA.  Your Clean Power Plan is a great start.  But please press on to ensure that it is only the beginning of our honorable clean-up job.  It’s fair to say that the entire world will be watching very closely, to see how well we do.  And something tells me that God will be, too.

Thank you
John Bechtel

The EPA hearings on the (finally) proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants took place the last week in July in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Denver.  PA IPL members offered testimony both in Pittsburgh and Washington.  Testimony posted here is shared by permission of the authors.  The remarks vary enormously, and are worth reading.  When you’re inspired, submit a written comment of your own.