“listening sessions” — Rabbi Daniel Swartz

Statement of Rabbi Daniel Swartz, President, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light; Spiritual Leader, Temple Hesed of Scranton

I live in an area where thIMG_0742e scars from previous generations of coal-dependence are obvious and deep.  It’s been over 50 years since the last of mines in the Scranton area closed, and yet we are still suffering from the consequences of coal, from blighted land to ongoing stream pollution.  The injustice is nearly as obvious as the blot on the land – one generation benefited from cheap fuel, while numerous later generations pay the cost.

Yet this heritage of pollution is nothing compared to problems we are bequeathing to future Continue reading “listening sessions” — Rabbi Daniel Swartz

“listening sessions” – Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman

Dr Karyn WisemanOn Friday, the EPA held a “listening session” in Philadelphia, allowing a 3-minute statement about the proposal to create standards for existing power plants to limit carbon pollution by anyone who registered .  These sessions were scheduled in 11 cities across the US. 

Use this form to submit your own comments to the EPA.  You can compose your own letter entirely, edit the form letter, or send the prepared text as is.

Here is the statement by the Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman, a member of PA IPL charter member congregation Chestnut Hill United Church: 

My name is Rev. Dr. Karyn L. Wiseman, and I am an ordained United Methodist minister. I am also a professor at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. I speak today on behalf of Chestnut Hill United Church in Philadelphia, where my family attends and are members.

Our church has been working to address environmental injustice for over twenty years. We are extremely concerned about what climate change is already doing to God’s Earth and God’s people. And as a mother of a 14-year-old boy, the distress I feel for the future, due to climate disruptions, is highly personal.

Continue reading “listening sessions” – Rev. Dr. Karyn Wiseman

“listening sessions” —Cricket Hunter

Cricket Hunter photoOn Friday, the EPA held a “listening session” in Philadelphia, allowing a 3-minute statement about the proposal to create standards for existing power plants to limit carbon pollution by anyone who registered .  These sessions were scheduled in 11 cities across the US.  

Several PA IPL leaders prepared statements.  We’ll post those statements as they come in.  Another faith-and-climate leader, Rev. Mitch Hescox of Evangelical Environmental Network was the first speaker, and John Elwood, a board member at EEN, spoke later in the day.   

Use this form to submit your own comments to the EPA.  You can compose your own, edit the form letter, or send as is, as you prefer.

Here is PA IPL executive director Cricket Hunter’s statement: 

Thoughtful people disagree on the moral or spiritual gravity of unintended harm.  But to knowingly allow harm to come to others – to stand by and choose convenience or profit first?  On that, all of our faith traditions are clear: it is not OK.  And people of faith are not alone – ask the children on any playground.

Continue reading “listening sessions” —Cricket Hunter

“listening sessions” – Sylvia Neely

Sylvia Neely photoToday, the EPA held a “listening session” in Philadelphia at which EPA officials heard statements about the proposal to create standards for existing power plants to limit carbon pollution by anyone who registered for a 3-minute slot.  These listening sessions were scheduled in 11 cities across the US.  

Several PA IPL leaders read statements, or wrote statements that were read for them.  Another faith leader, Rev. Mitch Hescox of Evangelical Environmental Network was the first speaker today.   We’ll post these as they come in.  

Below is former Board President Sylvia Neely’s statement.  Use this form to submit your own comments to the EPA.   

I am a on the board of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light and a member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in State College, PA.  I lead a program called Weatherization First, that brings teams from congregations to weatherize homes of low-income families.  I also give classes on how to reduce household energy use and help people reduce their fuel bills.  We are working in our community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but we need state and national standards to help us in this work.  We are concerned about what future generations will suffer because of climate change.

Continue reading “listening sessions” – Sylvia Neely

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly

View the PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly episode Religion and the Environment, aired April 19, 2013 (featuring the cyclists both on their bicycles and cleaned up in the halls of Congress).

Want to see Interfaith Power & Light founder Rev. Canon Sally Bingham’s extended interview?  It’s online over at PBS, too, as is the extended interviews with Sarah Jawaid, and Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb.

Before you head out to the wider ‘net, scroll down to see the elevation change pictures from the cyclists, thanks to Dave Hunter’s nifty GPS watch.   The first-day ride was a little longer than it appears — he forgot to start the watch until the end of the community ride.

Continue reading Religion and Ethics Newsweekly

Bike blog 2013.6: Hill Visits

Bike blog 2013.6 – final installment 

It is good to be back in State College, where spring comes at a more normal pace. It was 92 degrees yesterday in Washington as we walked the halls of Congress, and it seemed that the cherry trees that had only just blossomed were already losing their beauty in the hot breeze. 
This was my second time visiting our Congressional representatives, and I absolutely recommend that everyone go to Washington to do this at least once in your life! Dan Tomaso (Ray’s grad student who drove the van down from State College to transport the tandem back home) came along for some of the visits and said afterwards that he came away feeling much better about his government than he ever had before. 
I understand what he means. Our Congressional representatives may seem far away, but I really get the sense that the whole place is designed to provide access to any citizen who makes the effort. All the office buildings are open to the public, and the security lines were better than most airports. Every office door says: “please enter” and when we did, a receptionist was always friendly and happy to help. 
Cricket made all of our appointments in advance, and when she writes and asks for an appointment to talk about climate change (not everyone’s favorite subject), they carve out some space in their busy schedules. Generally, this means 15 minutes with a legislative aide, but sometimes it’s more. 
We separated into three teams: Jess and Hannah met with aides to both our senators, and they were very solicitous of Hannah. When she brought out the more than 100 prayers and drawings she had collected, they were delighted, even making copies of several for their own records. The PBS cameras were right there to record the moment as well. 
I was with Ray and Dan, and our most surprising meeting was with Jordan Clark, chief of staff for Rep. Glenn Thompson, Republican for PA-5. Rep. Thompson is my representative, so I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to speak with someone in the office. 
A few things about this visit were unusual. In the past, we have spoken with John Busovsky, a staffer who specializes in energy issues – John joined the meeting, but it was Clark who controlled it. Also, meetings are often in cramped quarters, even out in the hall, but Clark sat us down in GT’s own spacious office. Finally, meetings are usually quick and intense, but we sat and discussed the issues for over an hour. 
True to what I had heard about him, Clark is a tough old politico: he had no interest in our bike trip or Hannah’s letters; he feigned ignorance about climate science and tried to goad Ray and me into arguments over alternative energy and carbon taxes. He was playing with us to see what we were made of. 
Far too much happened during that meeting to record here, but about 30 minutes in there was a palpable shift in his tone. I guess he realized that we were serious about finding truly pragmatic solutions to this civilization-challenging crisis. He emphasized his own concern for the poor and for the environment, and invoked his Catholic faith. He seemed genuinely interested in our energy efficiency programs (especially our cooperative venture with Interfaith Human Services) and even offered that at some point, perhaps “GT” (Rep. Thompson) could even help us with an insulation project. 
This sort of shift is precisely what I was hoping for. I am convinced that climate change is too big a problem to be caught up in partisan politics. All parties have to be involved in the solution, and there are many ways that we can work together, at least on some short-term solutions. 
As we now settle (or rather crash) back into our normal lives, my thoughts turn to the members of our immediate families who kept things running for us while we were away: Barb, Jean, Jim and Louise, and Paula. I know I speak for everyone when I say that this trip would not have happened without your support – thank you! 


Finally, I want personally to thank my fellow cyclists: Andy, Dave, Hannah, Jess and Ray. You were terrific, and your good humor in the face of small adversities was very much appreciated! I can’t imagine a nicer group of people to spend five days with. 
See you all next year! 
(to see my whole blog, click here
(to see Hannah’s blog, click here