A Renewable Energy Future

Bill Sharp is founder of Transition Centre, cofounder of Transition Town State College, and member of the Board of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light.  He has been involved in environmental issues since youth and has four decades of experience in project planning and management and community development.  He has worked in government, higher education and private business.  He is currently working on developing a New School of Living based on the educational principles of Ralph Borsodi.  He was a member of the Public Information Forum task force that developed the Marcellus Shale Forum in April 2012.  This article is a product of that project.  Bill is also a member of the Board of PA IPL, and is an active member of the Baha’i community.

Positively Green: A Service Day Alternative to State Patty’s Day

On February 23, 2013 Penn State students hold the third annual Positively Green day of service.  Last year, 30 students, faculty and staff undertook a two-hour training session, and then went out into the community, helping State College neighbors make their houses more energy efficient.

We began at 10:30 am, with a full day of activities:

10:30 AM  Training in the Frizzell Room of the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center (corner of Curtain and Allen on campus, right across from the libraries)

12:00 PM  lunch!

12:30 PM  move to local worksites to begin energy efficiency work in low-income homes

3:00 PM   regroup at Pasquerilla (with cookies!)

4:00 PM   adjourn

image10911ith financial support from the Rock Ethics Institute and generous donations from our corporate sponsors (Lowe’s and Wal-Mart),our students changed light bulbs, installed weather-stripping, and upgraded homes with low-flow shower heads and hot water pipe insulation (see more pictures here). Students also learned how to discuss energy usage and encourage folks to make lifestyle choices that save energy and protect our planet.




Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light is proud to sponsor the first student IPL in the nation—thanks, Penn State students, for being part of the climate change solution!


Congratulations to Cool Congregations 2012 Pennsylvania Honoree

For immediate release December 12, 2012                           
Also posted online right here!

For more information: (contact Cricket Eccleston Hunter at chunter@paipl.org/814.876.2597)
Pennsylvania congregation wins national honors
Faith communities lead the way on saving energy, addressing climate impacts
In a year marked by increasing climate disruption, a Johnstown congregation has been honored for its participation in the 2012 Cool Congregations Challenge.  St. Paul’s United Church of Christ has received an Honorable Mention for its efforts in Engaging Congregants and Communities, and is among more than three dozen congregations honored this year by Interfaith Power & Light, a national organization mobilizing a religious response to global warming.
 “This year, we have witnessed the catastrophic impacts of global warming, from Superstorm Sandy to widespread drought, floods and wildfires,” said The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, founder and president of Interfaith Power & Light. “As people of faith, we know that it’s not enough to talk about climate impacts. We need to take action now, and these congregations are leading the way with their creative and meaningful projects.”
St. Paul’s UCC’s interim pastor, Rev. Bill Thwing notes that as a result of their outreach work, St. Paul’s decided to became a “Creation Care Church.” In the process, they have gained new regular worship attenders.  Members of the congregation have stepped forward and taken initiative to share the congregation’s work; many congregants see their creation care work as part of the congregation’s effort to become a “mission-based church rather than a membership-based church.”
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light helps Pennsylvania faith communities save energy and advocate for clean energy policies. Learn more at www.paipl.org.
For more information on the Cool Congregations Challenge, including success stories and congregational and individual carbon calculators, see www.coolcongregations.org. 

Carbon-Intensive Keystone

PA IPL Board member Joy Bergey has been researching the Keystone Pipeline.  While an oil pipeline from the tar sands of western Canada to Texas seems very far from Pennsylvania, the impacts reach beyond the extraction and transport of the fuels.  This fuel is very carbon intensive.

Below is Joy’s list of reasons (initially written to appear in a non-faith-oriented context, as was the contact information) that this pipeline is ill-advised.  Let’s use this as a call to use only what we must, and to do so efficiently.  Let us also use this as a starting point for thinking about the extraction and transportation of fossil fuels generally.  How we might create capacity based on fuels that have a much, much smaller lifetime impact on God’s earth, peoples, and creatures?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Keystone XL pipeline is a really bad idea whose time should never come. Here’s why:

  1. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry toxic tar sands oil 1,700 miles from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico to be refined and exported.
  2. Tar sands are the most carbon-intensive source of oil on the planet — just the production creates three times as much global warming pollution as conventional crude oil.
  3. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates the pipeline would add 27 million metric tons of heat-trapping CO2 annually.
  4. The pipeline would do little for our energy security or our domestic economy. Its main purpose is to make this oil available for export.
  5. The refineries on the Gulf Coast at the end of the pipeline are in Foreign Trade Zones where oil can be exported to international buyers without paying U.S. taxes.
  6. The pipeline threatens America’s water resources. Tar sands oil is more acidic and corrosive than conventional oil and is transported under higher pressure, posing a far greater risk of blowouts in the pipeline.
  7. Over the last five years, pipelines in Midwestern states with the longest history of moving Canadian tar sands have spilled three times as much crude per mile as the national average.
  8. These tar sands pipelines are not environmentally safe. The Keystone I pipeline was predicted to spill 1.4 times per decade, yet spilled 14 times in just the first year of operation.
  9. In summer 2011, an older tar sands pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River — at $725 million, the most expensive U.S. pipeline accident on record.
  10. We cannot ensure the security of the nearly 2,000 mile pipeline, making it a target for terrorists.
The facts are clear: This pipeline is bad for our environment, our economy, and our security.

We need clean energy, used wisely and without wasting it, to build our 21st economy.

The Senate could vote on the Keystone pipeline soon!
Call our senators right now:
Sen. Casey (202) 224-6324
Sen. Toomey (202) 224-4254

Tell them to “Vote No on the Keystone pipeline.”

It’s fine to leave a message on voice mail; just be sure to include your name, municipality and zip code. Thank you.

Nothing more than nothing

During lunch at PSU IPL’s  Positively Green event, Cricket Hunter read this story, which someone passed on to her many years ago.  If anyone recognizes it, please let us know so that we can properly attribute it.

“Tell me the weight of a snowflake” a coalmouse asked a wild dove.

“Nothing more than nothing” was the answer.

“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story” the coalmouse said.  “I sat on a fir branch close to the trunk when it began to snow; not heavily, not in a raging blizzard, no, just like in a dream, without any violence.  Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch.  Their number was exactly 3,471,952.  When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch — nothing more than nothing — as you say — the branch broke off.”

Having said that, the coalmouse fled away.  

The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for a while and finally said to herself “Perhaps there is only one person’s prayer lacking for peace to come to the world.”

Cricket adds: the small choices I make daily and weekly to reduce my impact on the world are my prayers, my contributions to a healthier climate.  Today I hung the clothes on racks in my living room, and my family and I are using only cold water in the handwashing sink during Lent.  What were your snowflakes today?

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards

Advocate for Efficiency!

We wrapped up our mini-campaign to educate individuals and congregations and to push our senators to act in September, 2010. The project had three parts:

First, we held events at congregations in Scranton, Meadville, Pittsburgh, State College and Harrisburg in July and August to talk about PA IPL and to promote Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS).

Second, together with our friends at PennFuture, we developed a postcard, urging our senators to include EERS in legislation; we have already collected over 400 of these postcards!

Third, we took our postcards and our message to the Senators themselves. We already met with Senatorial staffs in Bellefonte and Philadelphia to tell them about our campaign, and at the end of August Joy Bergey took her godchildren to Washington D.C. to present these cards to Senators Casey and Specter.

What are Efficiency Resource Standards?

A complicated name, but a simple idea: national standards for energy efficiency, just like we have in Pennsylvania (Act 129). Like mileage requirements for cars, industry actually wants national standards instead of various state standards, and we want them because waste and inefficiency make up a huge part of our carbon footprint. For commercial buildings, like most houses of worship, the EPA estimates that 30% of the energy is wasted. Power plants also waste a tremendous amount of energy.

As in Pennsylvania, national EERS can be combined with support for more renewable energy as part of a comprehensive approach to reduce our carbon footprint.