DEP Testimony: Rev. Bill Thwing, Johnstown

31664_10150197269130105_5950125_nThank you Secretary Quigley and  DEP for holding these hearings and encouraging us citizens to exercise our democrat responsibilities to envision the future…together

Good morning, my name is William Thwing.  I am a Pastor at St Paul’s United Church of Christ, here in Johnstown. I’m an active member and former president of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light,  a founding member and former Western PA coordinator of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches , Interfaith Global Climate Change Campaign.   I’m also a former Military Intelligence Officer who served in combat  Vietnam and I’ve been studying Climate Change since I returned from that formative experience – you might say that I’ve been a military intelligence in the servant of the Creator God ever since.   

As you probably know, accelerating Climate Change is threatening all the coastal cities of the world with sea level rise.  There are some Climate scientists who predict that as early as 2050 this could be a compelling reality.  We got a taste of it with Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and Irene.   There are hundreds of billions of dollars in real estate value that will be lost and millions of people who could become climate refugees even in our own country. There are already millions in Africa and Asia and the Middle East.  Look what’s happening in Europe right now.  It’s already a reality    Why do you think that Donald Trump is saying that the first thing he’ll do is build a giant enforced wall if he is elected president.  Even in our own country, people will soon be moving inland from the coastal areas looking for a place to survive.   The result will be Chaos….the kind of Chaos that existed before human civilization.  As the bible says  “In the beginning there was a formless void”(ie  Chaos)   Chaos-invoking Climate Change is our enemy.  It is a very dangerous enemy that threatens not only US national security but:  world civilization, life in our oceans where all life began, even possibly life itself on our beautiful God-given planet.  The Department of Homeland Security Department of Defense, and the Defence Intelligence Agency have all declared Climate Change as the #1 threat to our nation.

And yet we sit around twiddling our thumbs and doing business as usual because we choose to deny that which we can’t control or perhaps because we are paralyzed with fear and don’t know what to do. Climate Change is a Stealth threat which is les obvious but much worse a  crisis than Pearl Harbor which demanded that our nation mobilize it’s resources and act decisively.  The Civil War  is another familiar example  of an American crisis where everybody stopped what they were doing and went to war to stop slavery and keep the nation together. We must do the same now.  It’s time to act and act decisively.  We cannot wait.  Things are not going to get better.

Unfortunately,  Pennsylvania is a huge part of the problem.  Currently, Pennsylvania produces 1% of all the Carbon dioxide produced worldwide,  primarily because of our coal burning power plants.  This needs to stop.  My faith tradition at its General Synod just last month voted decisively to do everything we can to push for a transition away from fossil fuel  energy toward renewable energy by 2040.  That’s only  25 years away.  If we don’t accomplish this seemingly impossible, Climate Scientists warn us that the arctic ice will be gone and the permafrost and seabound methyl hydrates will begin releasing  gigatonnes of  stored methane into the atsmosphere and the Biblical image in The book of Revelations of the “Lake of fire prophecies may very well become a reality.

Fortunately, here is a simple solution to this problem  both for Pennsylvania and for the USA.   It was mentioned several times at the DEP Hearings on Sep 21 in Pittsburgh. States can do it.  Nations can do it.  It will cause some hardship and require some sacrifice both for our citizens and for the business community but it will work.  We can cut our CO2 emissions by close to 50 percent within 10 years and transition to nearly 100 % renewable energy within 25 years if we choose to.  Many faith traditions have called for it. My own UCC passed a resolution two years ago calling for Divestment from fossil fuels because to own fossil fuel equities is to actively  participate in the potential  destruction of our nation and human civilization.  In a couple of days the Pope will address Congress with much the same message.

There are several super computer models that have demonstrated that it can be done. Many of the major oil companies — Exxon Mobil. Chevron, Shell,  BP and others are expecting this Climate Change solution  to happen and have already factored it into their business plans.  It’s like a Tax on carbon but it’s not a Tax because it does not build up government. It allows the free market to function freely.  It’s pure capitalism but it returns 100% of the income from a Fee placed on carbon at it’s source to the people.  Everybody gets an equal share—an annual Dividend and they can spend it as they choose.  It’s revenue neutral.  The poor, the middle class and the most vulnerable members of society benefit the most.  It’s relatively painless..  It will add hundreds of thousands of  to the economy just in our region alone.  It will reduce air and water-based  health care costs dramatically.  It will stimulate entrepreneurship offer tremendous investment opportunities      It’s called a Carbon Fee and Dividend. It’s being promoted by the Citizen’s Climate Lobby.  It will work.  And we need to implement it at the state level now.

For God’s sake….For the sake of the preservation of the United States of America, for the sake of our future generations, for the sake of all life on earth.  Let’s do it NOW before it is too late.  Thank you Amen