It’s National Voter Registration Day!

Are You Registered to Vote?

It’s National Voter Registration Day! Today is a national day of action to increase participation in our democracy.

As part of our Faith Climate Justice Voter Campaign, we partnered with When We All Vote to provide us with our own voter registration portal that allows people to check their voter registration status or register to vote.

Join Interfaith Power & Light and participate by checking your voter registration status or registering to vote.

Why check if you’re an experienced voter? Well, a lot has happened since the last election. Some have moved, changed their name, turned 18, or attained citizenship. Individuals who were previously incarcerated may now be eligible to vote. And it’s possible some of us may have been “purged” from the voting rolls. Now is the time to find out!

Take just a few minutes now to check your voter registration status.

As the world continues to reel from climate disasters, from Pakistan to Puerto Rico to California, we hope there will be historic numbers of people voting with climate in mind this year.

You can help the campaign by texting or emailing weall.vote/ipl to three friends or family members asking them to check their voter registration status too.

Our right to vote is sacred, a privilege, and an obligation. When we all vote, society will better reflect our shared values.

This year so much is at stake. The results could have enormous repercussions on how we care for Creation and whether we deliver climate justice for our most vulnerable neighbors.

Please make sure you are ready to participate.

Also, don’t forget to pledge to be a Faith Climate Justice Voter!

EPA Heavy-Duty Rule State Sign-On Letter to Senators

Sign on by FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 by close of business.

September X, 2022

Dear Senator:

On behalf of our millions of supporters, we write in response to the letter submitted on July 11, 2022, addressing EPA’s proposed rule on “Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicles Standards” (Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-QAR-2019-0055). The letter expressed reservations about EPA’s proposed Option 1. We wish to assuage those concerns and emphasize why EPA’s final rule should strengthen and exceed Option 1.

The Importance of a Strengthened Option 1

EPA must finalize the strongest possible rule to address climate and air pollution impacts caused by heavy-duty trucks. Heavy-duty vehicles make up 10 percent of U.S. on-road vehicles, but contribute 45 percent of the transportation sector’s nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, 57 percent of its fine particulate matter (PM) pollution, and 28 percent of the sector’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 40 percent of U.S. ports and other freight facilities are in areas failing to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone and particulate matter. This is concerning, as 72 million people live within 200 meters of a truck freight route, and are disproportionately people of color and lower income. A stringent Option 1 would create significant public health and environmental impacts needed.

EPA’s proposed Option 1 builds on the success of the Low-NOx Heavy Duty Omnibus (HDO) rule, which has already been adopted by California, Oregon, and Massachusetts, and is under consideration in other states. This option would implement NOx standards in two steps, starting in 2027 and align with some state actions after an additional step up in stringency in 2031. Under Option 1, the expectation is that by 2031, NOx standards would be 90 percent lower than today’s standards. EPA estimates this would achieve a 60 percent reduction in harmful NOx emissions, compared to the weaker Option 2 only achieving 47 percent reduction. Finalizing an enhanced version of Option 1 that occurs on a condensed timeline is critical for freight-impacted communities, given the urgency of the issue.

Need to Take a Consensus-based Approach

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to set “standards which reflect the greatest degree of emission reduction achievable through the application of technology which the Administrator determines will be available for the model year to which such standards apply.” It also requires the agency to give “appropriate consideration” to costs and other factors. Following three days of public hearings and a public comment period on this proposal, diverse stakeholders have demonstrated overwhelming support for EPA to at a minimum adopt Option 1, if not a more stringent final rule. These stakeholders included health advocates, community groups, scientists, the business community, emission control manufacturers, state and local elected officials, and even engine manufacturers.

Feasibility of the Standards

Option 1 does not require reinventing emission control systems for internal combustion engines according to extensive multi-year research, testing, and stakeholder engagement from California regulators which concluded meeting a 0.02 g/bhp-hr NOx standard by 2027 is feasible and cost-effective. In addition, Ford, a major truck manufacturer, publicly stated they can meet the standard. Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association (MECA) also publicly affirmed Option 1’s feasibility. Meanwhile, other manufacturers are acquiring emission control companies capable of meeting the stronger state standards. A strengthened Option 1 also includes compliance flexibilities to ensure manufacturers are able to meet the standard, incentivize ZEV deployment, and maximize emission reductions.

Unintended Consequences: Diversion of Investment and Labor Concerns

Meeting stringent combustion engine pollution standards and deploying ZEVs are not mutually exclusive, yet there are manufacturers fighting strong standards to “avoid a diversion of investment” from electrification efforts, while publicly announcing advances in zero-emissions technology and significant investments in truck charging networks. In addition, significant investments are available to support them from the recently passed Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Manufacturers have cited concerns on costs, pointing to an unverifiable survey conducted with inflated projections and an industry-funded report lacking peer review. In contrast, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), MECA, and EPA, have published lab testing-backed cost projections that are significantly less than the industry survey.

Industry also argues that these standards come at a cost, causing fleet managers to stock up on older truck models before the new standard comes into effect (“pre-buy”), resulting in a decrease in sales after the standard begins (“no-buy” or “low-buy”). A small group of manufacturers claim these standards will result in job cuts like previous heavy-duty emission standards. However, EPA issued a report in 2021 concluding that larger economic forces–not emissions standards–have been primary drivers of past declines in heavy-duty truck sales, and showed how critics conflate correlation with causation. 

Conclusion

EPA must quickly and effectively address greenhouse gas and air pollution from heavy-duty trucks, and the best way to achieve this is by strengthening Option 1. We hope to have your support and we look forward to continuing discussions on the best pathways to reduce emissions in affected communities and growing manufacturing jobs in this sector.

Signed,
Your Name

Now Available: Video of August 17 Meeting in Partnership with JEA!

Soot with PA IPL & JEA

This meeting, recorded Wednesday, August 17, 2022, is part of PA IPL‘s ongoing partnership with Jewish Earth Alliance (JEA).

TOPIC:
Soot

SPEAKER:
Christopher D. Ahlers, Staff Attorney for the Clean Air Council

This joint session with JEA focuses on how the current standards for the deadly and dangerous particulate matter pollution, or soot, set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are outdated and insufficient. It’s time for the EPA to update these pollution limits to the strongest science-based standards to ensure cleaner air for families, advance environmental justice, and protect public health and the climate. At this meeting Christopher D. Ahlers, Staff Attorney for the Clean Air Council, will give us an overview of what particulate matter pollution—or soot—is, what causes it, and what individuals and businesses can do to reduce it. He will also discuss the recommendations for the revised standards.


JEA provides ongoing training and templates for monthly letter writing campaigns to local, state, and federal officials. The meetings provide a template, information, and guidance for all those who are interested in amplifying the message of Climate Justice.

Once you learn how easy Jewish Earth Alliance makes it, through their background information and template letter, for everyone to write letters to their federal officials, we hope you will write to your members of Congress now and for the next few months.

Voting is a Sacred Obligation

By Mike Kennedy, Faith Climate Justice Voter Campaign Manager
August 17, 2022

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Bethesda, Md.’s Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation encouraged an IPL webinar audience that voting is a “sacred obligation” and “awesome opportunity.”

“The Jewish tradition says, if something matters enough, it’s no longer just a good idea,” Dobb, an IPL board member, said during IPL’s August 9 webinar about sermons, divrei Torah, and khutbahs crafted to encourage voting. “It’s mandated. Like charity. You can give even more, but a certain amount of generosity is actually obligatory, not just voluntary. We call it ‘tzedakah’, not just charity, but righteousness and justice.”

“Same for voting and for involvement in the democratic enterprise within a free society. It’s not just a good idea. It’s, religiously speaking, the law. Voting and defending democracy, is, in Jewish parlance, a mitzvah, a sacred obligation that is in turn also an awesome opportunity. I pray that we can all articulate in our own faith language how this is, in fact, a holy imperative for all of us.”

The webinar reminded faith leaders of the importance of using their prophetic voices to call the faithful to live by their most deeply held values in an election year, and that voting is one way we can all bring forth a world rooted in those values.

Imam Mustapha Elturk, President of the North American Islamic Organization in Michigan, said the Prophet Muhammad once stated, “Whoever sees something that is detested, let him change it by hand.”  Elturk added, “I use the word ‘hand’ to mean authority. We could change things through the courts, but more so through the ballot. Go out and vote. Take with your ‘hand’ this ballot and stick it in the (ballot) box.

IPL Board Chair the Rev. Dr. Gerald L. Durley offered important counsel to those who don’t preach. “So if any of you who are not necessarily clergy but you need your (spiritual) leader (to preach on voting), you’ve got to let them know that they have an obligation,” Durley said. “They have been, we call it in our tradition, called for such a time as this, to speak to the conditions of our people.”

“Can I use a word that we don’t use now?,” Durley asked. “Right and wrong. There are certain things that are just not right. It’s not right what these petroleum companies are doing. It’s not right what they’re doing in the gas and fuel. So in (preaching), you’re not talking about red or blue, you’re talking about some basic fundamental ethical questions that need moral answers to, and that will give people the impetus to try to move ahead to make a difference and I think that that’s how you inspire people.”

The full webinar and short answers from it are available here. If you want to offer a message this fall on the importance of voting, let us know here and we will send you a nonpartisan sermon resource document.

Now Available: Video of July 20 Meeting in Partnership with JEA!

How the FY2023 Federal Budget Needs to Address Climate Solutions with PA IPL & JEA

This meeting, recorded Wednesday, July 20, 2022, is part of PA IPL’s ongoing partnership with Jewish Earth Alliance (JEA).

TOPIC:
How the FY2023 Federal Budget Needs to Address Climate Solutions

SPEAKER:
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, President/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN)

Inspirational speaker: Amani Reid

This joint session with JEA focuses on how to finance climate solutions at the federal level. Given the recent ruling by SCOTUS, limiting the EPA’s power, we will focus on how the US Congress can and must take some control over climate solutions. One immediate way is to pass a very climate friendly budget. Since Congress must pass the budget each year, we hope this bill will get passed.


JEA provides ongoing training and templates for monthly letter writing campaigns to local, state, and federal officials. The meetings provide a template, information, and guidance for all those who are interested in amplifying the message of Climate Justice.

Once you learn how easy Jewish Earth Alliance makes it, through their background information and template letter, for everyone to write letters to their federal officials, we hope you will write to your members of Congress now and for the next few months.

Community Health, Climate, and the Failure to Act: Local Health Solutions to Pollutions

July 15, 2022

Philadelphia, PA – Last month the Supreme Court sided with coal companies and their allies, limiting the EPA from setting the kind of highly-effective standards we need. There is still room, however, for the EPA to exercise its authority – and duty – to cut climate pollution.

Today Senator Manchin of West Virginia again dealt a blow to the hope for sufficient let alone substantial and dire investments in mitigating climate change, protecting our environment, and ensuring the health of our communities. Combined with the decision by the Supreme Court to limit the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon pollution from power plants the government is hamstring in its efforts to fight climate change. This means local solutions are more important than ever. We need local leaders today to do everything they can to help our communities suffering from cancer, respiratory illness, and many other effects from pollutants we can control. We can do better. We must do better.

On Thursday, July 21 at 2:00pm, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light will hold a “Health Solutions to Pollution” Rally outside the EPA’s Philadelphia Office 1650 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

Confirmed attendees include Philadelphia Council Member Helen GymRussell Zerbo of the Clean Air Council, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

We have a moral responsibility as a nation, and a sacred task as people of faith, to care for our climate and to leave a safe and thriving world for future generations. 

Who: Councilwoman Helen Gym, Russel Zerbo, the Clean Air Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light

What: Rally in support of the Community Health Act and climate investments in the reconciliation bill. 

Where: EPA Region 3 Office (1650 Arch Street Philadelphia)

When: 7/21/2022 from 2PM to 4PM

Interested reporters should RSVP to David Heayn-Menendez – info@paipl.org.


About Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light:
Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light inspires and mobilizes people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change. PA IPL is the Pennsylvania affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light, a national religious response to the threat of climate change. We see climate change as a moral issue, one that demands a response from people of faith.