A true-story parable about delay.


Rev. Cheryl Pyrch, a charter PA IPL board member also serving as convener of Philadelphia PA IPL submitted the following comments to the EPA.  They are published here alongside  PA IPL’s remarks.  When you’re inspired,  submit a written comment of your own.

My name is Cheryl Pyrch.  I’m the pastor at Summit Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, and serve on the Board of the Pennsylvania affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light, people of faith responding to climate change as a moral issue.    Thank you for  this opportunity to testify in support of the Clean Power Plan.

At IPL and in my congregation we’re concerned about climate change for the reasons of justice, compassion and gratitude for God’s creation that others have mentioned.

But I’d like to tell a parable about timing.  It’s a true story.

Our church was built over 100 years ago.  It’s a massive building made from Wissahickon schist, built for a congregation of a thousand.  For decades Summit’s been a congregation of one to two hundred, but has cared responsibility for the building with limited resources.  Dozens of community groups also use it.  But certain projects had to be deferred.  One of them was the tower.   For years, folks had noticed signs of trouble:  small cracks, a disturbing bulge.  Six years ago the trustees acted.  They called in a top drawer engineering firm to look at the tower.  The engineers proposed a $55,000 solution, and encouraged us to begin sooner rather than later, although there was no immediate danger.  So we got into gear, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a capital campaign, and got quotes from different contractors.

But just before the work was to begin, a large stone fell from the tower in the middle of the night.  Then a much smaller stone fell on the head of a parishioner looking at a new crack.  On closer inspection, we realized that in those couple of years it had taken to get ready, the situation had changed.   Two harsh winters, two freeze and thaw cycles, had led the tower to a tipping point, and it was now beginning to collapse .  So the engineers came up with a new plan, and  $175,000 later we thought we were done.  But almost immediately an ominous crack appeared in a different part of the tower.

New engineers, a geoengineering plan (if you will) and  $320,000 later, our tower is now secure.  You can worship safely at Summit.  But at a much greater cost than if we had known, or been able, to act earlier.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on the tower that could have been spent on other building projects or ministries.

summitpres-logo-After this up close and personal experience of tipping points, we hear the scientists when they warn us of tipping points in the climate.   We hear them when they tell us of cascading extinctions and possible eco-system collapse.  We understand the fierce urgency of now, in both a moral and practical sense.  We are glad the EPA is acting today, even in the face of heated political opposition.  There are costs to limiting carbon emissions, and those who are hurt in the transition to a new energy economy must be supported.  But the costs of delay are so much greater.

Thank you for proposing the Clean Power Plan, and blessings on your important work.

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.  Remarks by PA IPL supporters are published on this blog alongside PA IPL’s official remarks. When you’re inspired, submit a written comment of your own.