Rev. Metzloff delivered these comments at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Clean Power Plan Listening Session, September 28th, 2015 in Wilkes-Barre, PA
Good evening, and thanks for the opportunity to say something tonight. My name is Paul Metzloff, and I’m a Lutheran pastor serving a congregation just across the river in Kingston. I’m not a native Pennsylvanian, but I have lived here for a little over six years, and I am a husband, a father, and a person of faith.
I’m speaking tonight not as a formal representative of any organization (although I am a member of several faith-based environmental groups), but as someone who has been paying attention to issues of climate, and energy, and the environment for many years. I particularly want to emphasize that I approach these issues from the standpoint of the Christian faith, where God not only calls humans to serve and protect creation, but Christ also calls me to love and serve my neighbor.
It’s abundantly clear that climate change is not only real and caused by people, but that as it affects the world it also most directly affects the poor and vulnerable – those Jesus tells us to help. In that, then, it impacts such core ministries of the church as working against hunger, disaster relief, and support for refugees. Climate change affects all of those areas, and worsens things for those least able to deal with them. We need to fix this problem, as big, as complex, and as daunting as it may be. It’s a moral obligation.
That said, then, I speak in support of the Clean Power Plan in Pennsylvania. As a state, we are currently the third largest emitter of carbon pollution from power plants in the country, and we have the opportunity here to change that. Coming from a long history of coal mining, oil production, and from today’s boom in fracking, I understand that there are many who have questions about this, and there is, of course, much to discuss.
But making these initial steps is important. Once people get used to the idea that they can move beyond fossil-fuel based energy, and that cleaner, more sustainable forms of energy make both financial and moral sense, then we can continue to move forward. But starting, now, is critical.
That’s not to say that the CPP is perfect. I am concerned about the dependence that some parts of it have on natural gas; methane still produces CO2 when it is burned, and leaked methane is even worse. Natural gas is not a solution. I’m also not strongly in favor of biomass or waste burning for energy as compliance measures for the CPP; each of them has its own set of issues and problems. The best way by far to meet our goals is with efficiency, solar, and wind, all of which are truly clean and result in more sustainable job creation as well.
Finally, as someone who is not originally from here, the Wyoming Valley, I’d like to share a few observations on some things which I think are relevant to this conversation about climate change and the CPP:
I see the long-term damage that coal mining has done to this area.
I wonder about the long-term damage that fracking may be (and probably is) doing to other parts of the state.
I hear stories of the flood of 1971, and remember the flood of 2011, and hope that the levies will hold the next time the river rises. Floods and climate change go together.
I hear people talking about their gas bills and their heating bills and their electric bills, and wonder about ways to meet their needs in a smart and sustainable way.
I look up as I drive along Route 309, the Cross-Valley Expressway, and see the wind turbines – both to the south near Bear Creek and the newer ones up north near Noxen – and know that they are the way of the future.
So, then, let’s get moving with the Clean Power Plan, and let’s make it better as we go.
This hearing was covered by the Citizen Voice.