Faith Leader Letter to Biden, Schumer, and the Senate

Climate cannot wait. Lives are at stake and your voice matters. Every day of inaction costs us dearly. Many of our communities have experienced the severe impacts of climate change: wildfires, superstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and increasingly intense weather phenomena that cause damage, injury, and loss of life. We are running out of time to avoid even more serious consequences. 

SIGN and help circulate this faith leader letter to President Biden, Leader Schumer, and the full Senate calling for action on Build Back Better. We are asking for leaders of faith-based organizations and denominations to sign on by February 11th and will deliver it to the White House and Senate on Valentine’s Day.

Build Back Fossil Free, 2022 Letter to President Biden

Dear President Biden,

As organizations collectively representing millions of members and supporters, including Indigenous, Black, Brown, and frontline communities, we urge you to use your executive authority to speed the end of the fossil fuel era, protect our communities from the climate emergency, and address the severe harms caused by fossil fuels.

Your first year in office was marked by historic climate disasters, another alarming surge in domestic greenhouse gas emissions, and increasingly dire warnings from the leading scientists around the world. From hurricanes and floods, to wildfires and droughts, tens of millions of Americans are directly confronting the dangerous consequences of a warming world. Indigenous, Black, Brown, AAPI and working-class communities are disproportionately harmed not only by fossil-fueled extreme weather, but also targeted by oil, gas, and coal corporations and suffer the health impacts of toxic pollution and ongoing environmental injustices.

You have repeatedly identified the existential threat posed by climate change, calling it a “code red” for humanity, and stated in your first week in office, “In my view, we’ve already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis. We can’t wait any longer.”

You further promised “environmental justice will be at the center of all we do addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color — so-called ‘fenceline communities’.” And you elevated the respect of Indigenous sovereignty and ordered federal agencies to strengthen nation-to-nation relationships with Tribes.

These statements must be backed up by bolder action. You have the authority under existing law to wind down fossil fuel production and catalyze a just, renewable energy revolution to deliver healthier communities, a livable future, and millions of good-paying jobs. It’s critical that you use that authority as quickly and broadly as possible.

Together, we call on you to take these steps:
— Follow through on your promise to ban all new oil and gas leasing, drilling, and fracking on federal lands and waters.
— Direct federal agencies to stop approving fossil fuel projects, including pipelines, import and export terminals, storage facilities, refineries, and petrochemical plants. Direct the Department of Energy to halt gas exports to the full extent authorized by law.
— Declare a climate emergency under the National Emergencies Act , unlocking special powers to reinstate the crude oil export ban, redirect disaster relief funds toward distributed renewable energy construction in frontline communities and marshal companies to fast-track renewable transportation and clean power generation, creating millions of high-quality union jobs.

The U.S. must contribute its fair share to the global effort to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with what science, justice, and equity demand. Your administration’s legislative and regulatory climate proposals have not addressed limiting the production and burning of fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change. As fossil fuel lobbyists and politicians continue to block real climate action in Congress, bold executive action is desperately needed.

President Biden, you are the chief executive with immense powers to address our communities’ concerns.

You showed what serious climate leadership could look like in your first week in office when you canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and paused oil and gas leasing on federal lands. The urgency of the moment requires you to return to that original ambition. Fully deliver on your climate and environmental justice promises by using your executive authority to keep fossil fuels in the ground and build a resilient and affordable renewable energy system.

Emergency Petition to Biden’s Interior Dept: Stop Permitting Gulf Drilling

Please join us in petitioning the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to immediately stop approving new drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico unless and until the agency complies with NEPA and properly analyzes the climate impacts of approving new oil and gas drilling activity.

Read see the summary below and the full petition here: https://bit.ly/GulfPetition

**DEADLINE FOR JOINING: February 4th, 2022.**

Original signers include the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Healthy Gulf, Sierra Club, Indigenous Environmental Network, Port Arthur Community Action Network, and Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe Nation of Texas.

Thank you for your consideration. Please contact Molly Morabito (MMorabito@biologicaldiversity.org) at the Center for Biological Diversity with any questions.

SUMMARY

President Biden has acknowledged that we are facing a “profound climate crisis.” Yet rather than taking the bold action necessary to address the climate emergency, the Biden administration held the largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history this past November — offering up more than 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to the oil industry.

This decision was not only a spectacular failure of climate leadership, it was also unlawful. On January 27th, a federal court invalidated the Department of the Interior’s decision to hold the lease sale (Lease Sale 257) because it failed to properly consider the climate impacts that would result from expanded oil and gas activity in any of its environmental analyses for the sale.

That same violation applies to all new oil and gas activity that the Interior has approved, and is approving, in the Gulf. The Interior Department has been using the same analyses that the federal court found unlawful to approve exploration plans, development plans, and drilling permits on nearly 11 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico already leased to oil companies.

The Interior’s failure to assess the climate impacts of drilling activity puts our climate, wildlife, and frontline communities at even greater risk from the numerous harms inherent in offshore oil and gas activity.

Please join us in petitioning the Secretary of the Department of the Interior to immediately stop approving new drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico unless and until the agency complies with NEPA and properly analyzes the climate impacts of approving new oil and gas drilling activity.

RGGI Passes in PA with 3 to 2 Vote!

Today the PA Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) voted to approve PA participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in a 3 to 2 vote. Now, PA can join neighboring states in cutting CO2, creating jobs, and helping communities in need of support.

The passage of the RGGI is significant because in Pennsylvania, a substantial energy-producing state, over 70% of voters in recent polling called for solutions to cut carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

The RGGI is an established multi-state cap-and-invest program that seeks to slash carbon emissions from the power sector while generating proceeds that can be invested in cleaner energy generation including solar, wind, and nuclear. The RGGI program proceeds have also buttressed energy efficiency efforts in participating states and according to ACEEE, every dollar invested in efficiency in low-income households through the Weatherization Assistance Program results in $2.53 in energy and non-energy benefits for a community. These are real benefits for Pennsylvanians in frontline communities that have long borne an inordinate pollution burden.

It is critical that we take action on climate change now and a program like RGGI is positioned to provide immediate benefits to both our environment and the economy. PA citizens are rightly concerned about what the future will look like for their children and families if we don’t meaningfully address planetary warming right now. Having Pennsylvania link to RGGI in early 2022 is very much in the public interest, which is why we are thrilled to announce an affirmative vote for this rulemaking from the commissioners today.

Public Comments to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission on the Department of Environmental Protection’s C02 Budget Trading Program/Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Rulemaking

September 1, 2021

Commissioners:

Thank you for allowing me to speak today. My name is David Heayn-Menendez and I am the executive director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, a community of congregations, faith-based organizations and individuals of faith responding to climate change as an ethical and moral issue. We are the Pennsylvania affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light, a national organization, and as our mission suggests, we are concerned about the existential crisis we face as a result of climate change. The greenhouse gas pollution we are generating is unsustainable for our people and our planet and we are not outliers in this belief: In Pennsylvania alone, a substantial energy-producing state, over 70% of voters in recent polling called for solutions to cut carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

And here’s where the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative comes in. As you know, RGGI is an established multi-state cap-and-invest program that seeks to slash carbon emissions from the power sector while generating proceeds that can be invested in cleaner energy generation including solar, wind and nuclear. The RGGI program proceeds have also buttressed energy efficiency efforts in participating states and according to ACEEE, every dollar invested in efficiency in low-income households through the Weatherization Assistance Program results in $2.53 in energy and non-energy benefits for a community. These are real benefits for Pennsylvanians in frontline communities that have long borne an inordinate pollution burden.

It is critical that we take action on climate change now and a program like RGGI is positioned to provide immediate benefits to both our environment and the economy. I was one of hundreds of speakers who lent their voice last summer during public hearings on RGGI, hearings which affirmed the overwhelming support among Pennsylvanians for the commonwealth’s participation in the program. Our citizens are rightly concerned about what the future will look like for their children and families if we don’t meaningfully address planetary warming right now. Having Pennsylvania link to RGGI in early 2022 is very much in the public interest, which is why we urge an affirmative vote for this rulemaking from the commissioners today. I appreciate your time and consideration.