Methane testimony: Rev. Paul Lubold

IMG_1866Rev. Lubold delivered this testimony at the EPA hearings in Pittsburgh on September 29, one of 3 hearings across country about proposed limits for methane emissions from new (not yet built) oil and gas operations only.

As a leader in the Christian faith community, I want to thank the EPA for proposing to limit methane pollution.

Along with the 400,000+ people who gathered last year in New York City, I believe that we are not only experiencing global climate change, but that it is largely a result of our actions (or inaction). Climate Change has life-threatening consequences. The melting polar ice-cap, and rising sea levels are just the “tip of the iceberg,” if you’ll pardon my choice of words.

Limiting methane pollution is a positive step toward controlling an environmental and public health problem. I’m here to urge the EPA to act on the new Methane Pollution Standard.

In the Biblical Creation account, on each of the six-days, when God finished the daily Work, the heavenly voice declared “It is good.”

But on the 6th day, the pinnacle of Creation, human beings were made, and were given responsibility to ‘take care’ of all that was created just before their time.

And the Creator declared “It is very good.”

All was peaceful and serine. Until we got selfish. Our greed took over, and being ‘care-takers’ (or stewards) of God’s good creation became less, and less important, as the earth, and all that is therein, became a “commodity.” Rather than ’appreciate,’ and ‘care for’ the earth, humans focused more on “what can I get out of it.”

For all these centuries, earth’s natural resources were thought to be boundless. We thought, ”Use it up… there’ll be more.” And while we were using it up…we weren’t too concerned about the repercussions.

I had the honor of being part of a panel discussion this past summer, which was a response to the Encyclical by Pope Francis, “Praise be to you… On Care of Our Common Home.”

I was the Protestant, among representatives from other faith communities: Buddhist, Hindu, Islam, Roman Catholic, Jewish. This richly diverse group, in unison, expressed appreciation and support for the work of the Holy Father, who so eloquently identified the crisis that everyone on our planet is living with.

I quote from the Encyclical: “(The earth) now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” (§2)

I realize that methane pollution is only a small part of the larger issue of climate change, but I offer this from the Encyclical: “Climate Change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political…” And is “…one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” (§25)

My personal faith believes that the Biblical Creation account is part of a living, ongoing story. And the God in which I believe, who on the first five days declared “It is good,” on the sixth day, took a handful of dirt, molded it into the form of a human being, and breathed life into it. We inhaled, and exhaled… And it was, indeed, good!

But God may very well be looking down – at this generation — in disappointment.

The world grew and became industrialized, we learned to burn things: for heat, transportation, to generate power, and manufacture goods. And when we began to extract fossil fuels from the earth, productivity peaked.

I grew up in NWPA, not far from Drake’s Well. My home town is in the Allegheny National Forest, in an area that flourished during the early part of the last century, with the Lumber industry. As the hardwood forests vanished, conventional oil and natural gas wells dotted the landscape.

To this day, you can still see and smell evidence of old, abandoned, inactive wells. The resources have been extracted, without concern for methane pollution, and in many cases, the rusty equipment sits and decays.

Unfortunately, while we’ve learned about the danger of ‘Greenhouse Gases,’ methane continues to be a byproduct of the extractive process. We’ve made good strides with regulations like the Clean Power Plan, but gas and oil drilling continues to allow millions of tons of gas and other toxic chemicals to leak into the atmosphere, causing serious health concerns, especially for children and older adults in our communities.

The EPA is in a position to do something to stop the equivalent of an invisible oil spill. Enacting the Methane Pollution Standard will give the Almighty a reason to once again declare, “It is good.”

Thank you.

EPA Methane Hearing, Sep. 29, 2015, Pittsburgh, PA
Docket number: EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505, 11:15 am
The Rev. Paul L. Lubold
Pastor, St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church of North Park