Tag Archives: OpEd

OpEd – “The better angels of our nature” … why Pruitt is wrong for EPA

daniel headshotOpEd by PA IPL board president, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, published in the Scranton Times-Tribune on January 10, 2017.

It’s a basic animal instinct to protect self-interests — your food sources, your life and your offspring. Especially at this time of year, we aspire not to mere base instinct, but rather to the “better angels of our nature” that President Abraham Lincoln spoke about. It’s a common theme of most religions: the moral course of action is to go beyond ourselves to protect those in need.

What is true for us as individuals is also true for societies and countries. A great and moral nation doesn’t just protect self-interests. It builds systems and institutions that protect the weak, the vulnerable and the powerless. One such institution in our country is the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA protects our health, especially of the poor, who suffer first and most from the effects of environmental degradation.

So it is profoundly distressing to look at the record of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald J. Trump’s choice to head the EPA. Mr. Pruitt has taken every opportunity to sue the EPA to stop the agency from acting to protect public health and natural resources.

For example, he sued unsuccessfully to stop standards for reducing soot and smog pollution that crosses state lines, pollution that increases asthma, lung disease and even reduces life spans, particularly among the very young and seniors.

Worse, he sued, also without success, to head off rules to reduce releases of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxic pollutants. Even tiny amounts of mercury can cause birth defects and permanent brain damage. In these and other cases, Mr. Pruitt ignored the scientific evidence, backed by health experts such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Lung Association, and the American Public Health Association. He supported the positions of fossil fuel companies.

Mr. Pruitt’s opposition to health and safety protections could have particularly serious repercussions for Pennsylvanians, including the 300,000 children who suffer from asthma and the many older Pennsylvanians who suffer from respiratory conditions. According to the American Lung Association, Pennsylvania already pays $9.4 billion in pollution-related health care costs each year. A Pruitt-run EPA also could abandon clean water safeguards protecting thousands of miles of Pennsylvania streams, which are sources of drinking water, fishing, and recreation.

Mr. Pruitt has demonstrated an … –-> continue reading at the Scranton Times-Tribune –>


Download Rabbi Daniel Swartz’ text study of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Sî, including 1- or 2- session discussion options, and excerpts from Laudato Si with facing-page Jewish texts (scripture to present).  Written for Yom Kippur study, but appropriate for study by people of any faith, at any time of the year.

ARTICLE Faith in Action: Opposition to Fracking —and other new fossil fuel infrastructure— Is a Moral Imperative

Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein and the Rev. Cheryl Pyrch, co-chairs of Philadelphia PA IPL, wrote the guest editorial for the June 2016 GRID Philadelphia Magazine.   

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11 (Nevei’im) (Old Testament)

Cheryl.MalkahBinahA low-level but corrosive despair and cynicism pervades our common life. We see it across the political spectrum, from politicians and CEOs who deny climate change, to ordinary folks who acknowledge the science but who feel too overwhelmed to do more than change lightbulbs. This despair is understandable. Predictions of ecological collapse are frightening. Moving to a new energy future is daunting, and it seems to move further out of reach with each presidential campaign speech. It’s tempting to believe half-measures and incremental change will be enough.

It’s tempting to believe the claims that hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—offers us a “bridge fuel,” that industry estimates of methane leakage are correct, that taxes on fracking are the answer to the public school funding crisis. It’s tempting to believe that jobs and income from fracking will revive the rural economy, that water contamination is a minor problem that can be solved, that carbon sequestration or some new technological breakthrough will be the “answer” so we can continue with business as usual.

But these claims are false, as most readers of Grid know. The evidence becomes stronger by the day: Methane leakage makes natural gas nearly as dangerous as coal. Building new wells—and continued use of old ones—will lock us into a future of ecological and economic chaos where those who have contributed the least to climate change—the poor, the young and future generations— will suffer the most.

This injustice, along with the wanton destruction of plant and animal life, makes climate change a moral issue.

Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light (PA IPL) opposes fracking because we are people of faith and hope. We are individuals and communities of many faiths, drawing from the deep wellsprings of our traditions, inspired to work together for the sake of our collective future. We are strengthened by multiple ways of understanding hope: We may point to the divine light within, to the words of the biblical prophets, to the promises of Allah in the Quran, or to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

GRID Philly coverAs people strengthened by faith and hope, as people of many backgrounds who are learning to pray and work together, we believe that a clean energy economy is within reach. We believe that we can build a world where all people have enough to eat and clean air to breathe. We believe that we can live on this earth in a way that allows all creatures to thrive. We believe that we can make the transition in a way that is just, that provides jobs and guards the welfare of all people in the state of Pennsylvania. We believe in a future with hope, and we know that future cannot include fracking—or fossil fuels of any kind. We are therefore focusing our efforts on preventing new fossil fuel infrastructure, including—but not limited to—that for natural gas.

We are a founding organization of Green Justice Philly, a growing and diverse coalition committed to building a healthy, sustainable and economically just Philadelphia region that opposes the development of Philly as a fossil fuel hub. In our resolution, “Covenant with the Future,” we ask the commonwealth to halt the march toward new fossil fuel infrastructure.

We call for…[finish reading at Grid Philly]