100% Renewable Energy — Rev. Dr. Vincent Kolb’s remarks

On June 19, 2019, the Rev. Dr. Vincent Kolb (pastor of Sixth Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh) gave remarks at the 2019 100% Renewable Lobby Day rally organized by our friends at PennEnvironment.

He’s kindly shared his remarks with us here. Since these remarks were necessarily brief, at the end you’ll find a few links to learn more about the exciting energy resolution of the Pittsburgh Presbytery. Prefer video? His remarks begin at 27 min here.

Good morning!

Eleanor Roosevelt once said

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

We have gathered today because we have a beautiful dream: 100% renewable energy for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2050.

I am here to tell you that people of faith in southwestern PA are working hard to make this beautiful dream a reality. In Pittsburgh Presbytery in 2017, our region of churches submitted a resolution to our national church to divest our national resources from fossil fuels. This is a part of a growing worldwide movement, as clean, renewable sources of energy become responsible and profitable investments. Today, approximately 5.5 trillion dollars have been divested from the fossil fuel industry and faith-based organizations are leading the way at 27% of those institutions making divestment commitments!

We have begun a region-wide effort to provide congregations the opportunity to convert to renewable energy sources: solar panels on roofs and undeveloped properties, cooperative purchase of energy needs, affordable energy audits for aging facilities, and the establishment of neighborhood solar cooperatives. This is in keeping with the vision of Mayor Bill Peduto and our City Council in Pittsburgh, which have pledged the Steel City to be 100% clean energy by 2035.

At the same historic Presbytery meeting in December of 2017, our regional body condemned the construction of the Shell Cracker plant in Beaver County, that will emit 2.25 million tons of CO2 annually in a region that is already in the top 2% for cancer risk because of air pollution. We want our region to be a clean energy hub, not a new cancer alley!

We are part of a faith tradition that has affirmed our responsibility to care for the earth as our home and care for all people, especially our most vulnerable populations who are at risk for cancer, disease, and asthma.  Clergy and lay people of faith will continue to advocate for the care of our home, because our sacred scriptures have commanded us to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

Rev. Kolb as the crowd begins to assemble on the steps in the Capitol Rotunda

Who wants 100% renewable energy in PA? We do!
Who wants 100% renewable energy in PA? We do!

Thank you!

Want more? Click through to:

  • sign up to host a screening of Paris to Pittsburgh, a National Geographic film that features work cities, towns, and states are doing to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • learn about the massive petrochemical complex including an multi-state underground storage facility and the first of several gargantuan “cracker plants” which use “wet gas” from fracking for plastics manufacturing.
  • read the three-part resolution itself.
  • peruse the FAQ page that FossilFreePCUSA created in advance of the the 2018 national divestment overture.
  • join PA IPL’s monthly Policy Update calls to stay current on state and federal climate and clean energy policies. Each month includes positive news, a discussion hook, and one state and one federal action item.



MECHANICSBURG: Fracking poetry and photos

Ongoing exhibition Feb. 6–March 15 at Messiah College — Shale Play: Documentary Art by Julia Kasdorf and Steven Rubin, an exhibition in collaboration with the Department of English Climenhaga Building, Climenhaga Galleries (upper)

Artist’s Talk/Poetry Reading and Reception: High Center, High Foundation Recital Hall, Feb. 7, 4:15 p.m.

Shale Play, a singular work from an award-winning poet and a veteran documentary photographer, tracks the natural gas boom in the small towns, fields and forests of Appalachian Pennsylvania. In the era of the visual and verbal meme, Rubin and Kasdorf pair documentary poems with photographs in a volume that can be held in the human hand and shared, even in communities that lack high speed internet access.

Learn more about the artists:
juliakasdorf.com                     stevenrubin.com

Interviews with the artists about the book, and the work that led to the book:

image source

You may remember Julia Spicher Kasdorf’s work from the close of our April 2018 newsletter, copied here:

In honor of [the April 13, 2018 A Better Path Coalition] event, we will end with a powerful poem by Pennsylvania docupoet Julia Spicher Kasdorf.  For more from her, including explorations of faith, bookmark this written interview to read with time to reflect.

But first, the poem:

“A Mother on the West Virginia Line Considers the Public Health”
The industry thinks I’m too dumb to back down; they don’t know
I do this for my Mom and Dad. They were 69 and 71.
He had pulmonary fibrosis, worked with asbestos all his life. She grew up
near the coke ovens back when kids were sent into the mines to pick coal.
So they both had lung problems, but their home, the next hollow over,
sits 350 feet from a compressor station. We sealed the house,
set up an air scrubber, but—four of their neighbors passed last year, too.
*
We bought the coal rights to our 115 acres because we know
the company will come up to your front door, but we let the gas go,
just didn’t see this coming. A gentleman from New Jersey leased our land.
One day we come home to find pink ribbons tied in the field. Then bulldozers.
They put in four shallow wells and a Marcellus well on a 5-acre pad

Continue reading where the poem is printed in full with permission

date changes STATE COLLEGE: poetry and photos, fracking and faith

image source

Program begins at 9:00AM, and finishes a bit before 10:00 (in time for 10:00 church)
People of any faith or none are welcome. RSVPs appreciated so they can set up extra chairs.

Join member congregation St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church’s Adult Forum to hear from Poet Julia Spicher Kasdorf  will talk about Shale Play, her newly published collaboration with photographer Steven Rubin.  She will show some images, read some poems

DATE CHANGES (changed due to weather) :
Sunday, FEBRUARY 3rd at 9:00AM at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church

Julia Kasdorf and Steven Rubin have an  exhibit linked to the book at the Bellefonte Art Museum, January 4-27.  They will present together in secular settings:

Jan. 11th at 7:30pm at the  Bellefonte Art Museum
Jan. 24th at 7:30pm

Thursday, January 31 at 7:30pm in the Foster Auditorium in the Pattee and Paterno Library on the Penn State University Park campus.

 

 

Learn more about the artists:
juliakasdorf.com                                    stevenrubin.com

You may remember Julia Spicher Kasdorf’s work from the close of our April 2018 newsletter, copied here:

In honor of [the April 13, 2018 A Better Path Coalition] event, we will end with a powerful poem by Pennsylvania docupoet Julia Spicher Kasdorf.  For more from her, including explorations of faith, bookmark this written interview to read with time to reflect.

But first, the poem:

“A Mother on the West Virginia Line Considers the Public Health”
The industry thinks I’m too dumb to back down; they don’t know
I do this for my Mom and Dad. They were 69 and 71.
He had pulmonary fibrosis, worked with asbestos all his life. She grew up
near the coke ovens back when kids were sent into the mines to pick coal.
So they both had lung problems, but their home, the next hollow over,
sits 350 feet from a compressor station. We sealed the house,
set up an air scrubber, but—four of their neighbors passed last year, too.
*
We bought the coal rights to our 115 acres because we know
the company will come up to your front door, but we let the gas go,
just didn’t see this coming. A gentleman from New Jersey leased our land.
One day we come home to find pink ribbons tied in the field. Then bulldozers.
They put in four shallow wells and a Marcellus well on a 5-acre pad

Continue reading where the poem is printed in full with permission

April 2018 newsletter: Earth Day – Birth and Brokenness

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
   the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
let the mountains sing together for joy;
Psalm 98:7-8

Most celebrations of Earth Day tend toward the practical, or a simple celebration of the birth of our finall-visible spring, but the widespread celebration of Earth Day is in fact rooted in the conversation between awe and grief.

Awe inspired by the 1972 image of blue marble from Apollo 17 and collective grief came with the publication of Pennsylvanian Rachel Carson’s 1968 book Silent Spring, which engaged imagination to move readers to feel the deep grief of a future foretold by then-current action and inaction.

As faith communities, on Earth Day we are called to hold these things together —this awe and this grief— for without one, the other cannot be.  If we did not love our Common Home and our neighbors, there would be no call for lament, and no need for action.  But we do.

And so for us, Earth Day is not one-off birthday celebration, but rather can be a day to celebrate and commit ourselves to work —practical and joyful work, and prayerful and grief-tender work— with and for one another throughout the year.  Some work we may take on as practical necessity, some we may take on as spiritual discipline, as a way of finding our way back into right relationship with neighbor and squirrel, stream and Source.

On this Earth day, let us seek, reveal, and feel connection with the earth and all who dwell therein.  May we continue in determined and active hope.

Celebrate Earth Day with your faith community!

Earth Day is on Sunday, April 22, 2018.
Read on for resources, and a really important poem.

Continue reading April 2018 newsletter: Earth Day – Birth and Brokenness

Denominations Call for Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy

One of the ways that some religious communities are taking action to protect life and care for creation is to transition away from support of fossil fuels at a policy and governance level.

elcafinalIn August 2016, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted at its Churchwide Assembly to move “Toward a Responsible Energy Future.” Read the full text of the statement on page 5 here.

______________________________________________

In July 2015, the thirtieth General Synod of the United Church of Christ (UCC) approved a resolution calling for its pastors, conferences, and members to advocate for a swift transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

UCC_logo“It is our belief,” the resolution states, “that the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is among the most compelling and urgent issues of our times.” Further: “…If we do not immediately decrease our use of these fuels and completely eliminate them by the year 2014 all life on earth will likely experience previously unknown devastating results including drought, wildfires, extreme precipitation and cyclones, drinking water scarcity, diminished food production, population migrations, human mortality, violent conflicts, and species extinction, thereby upsetting the whole ecology of Earth.”

The full text of the resolution is available for download here.

______________________________________________

UUA logo_gradientIn June 2014, the Unitarian Universalist Association approved a resolution calling for divestment from fossil fuels at its annual General Assembly. It says, in part: “The climate crisis threatens Earth systems through warming, destabilization of the atmosphere and climate, sea level rise, and the acidification of the oceans, of which the brunt of the burden has fallen and will fall on the poorest people in the world, who are least responsible for the crisis.”

The full text of this resolution is available online here.

William Lochstet Comments on Methane Emissions, August 2016

On August 4, 2016, PA IPL member William Lochstet delivered the following testimony on the topic of methane emissions to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee.

________________________________

The EPA has found that the current and projected concentrations of the six greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations through climate change.

Our climate is a common good we share with our neighbors. Many religious traditions address the question of who is my neighbor. Christianity suggests that even persons normally rejected by society are actually neighbors. The Pope recently wrote of the earth as our common home. Native American tradition suggests that neighbors extend seven generations into the future. We are all brothers and sisters together now, in the past and into the future. What we put into the atmosphere today will have effects years and centuries into the future.

We had hoped to reduce global warming by replacing coal with natural gas since it results in less carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit of energy produced, when burned. But, we find that so much methane is released along the way, that the overall climate change effect is greater.

The Global Warming Potential (GWP) of methane and CO2 need to be understood in relation to time. When CO2 is released into the atmosphere, it stays there for a long time, and produces a steady warming effect. Methane in air undergoes chemical reactions on a time scale of about 12 years, which ultimately produces CO2 and water vapor. A methane release has a huge warming effect in the beginning, but is equal to CO2 after several decades. The Global Warming Potential for methane is between 84 and 87 over 20 years, according to EPA. This can have a huge effect on the weather events that you and I will experience in the next 10 or 20 years. This is important for immediate disaster preparedness. It is important to present global warming projections in both 100-year and 20-year time frames.

We need to reduce methane emissions by half very quickly. The Natural Gas STAR Program is voluntary, and therefore will not succeed. California is considering a 45% reduction in greenhouse gases emissions, below 2012 levels by 2025.

Lastly, the United Church of Christ at its National meeting last June adopted a resolution calling for the complete transition to renewable energy by 2040.