Monday, November 29, 2010

Putting Faith Into Action in the Washington State Legislature

By: Jessie Dye

Earth Ministry is a member of the Environmental Priorities Coalition in Washington State, and each year works with 24 other statewide organizations to pass the best legislation for the natural and human communities of our state. This year, with tough budget decisions and polarized political debates, the faith voice is more important than ever in articulating our best common future. Please join us and religious communities around the state in working to pass these four bills in the Washington State Legislature’s 2011 session:

Coal Free Future for Washington
With the failure of national legislation to set a cap on greenhouse gasses that would protect the world’s poor from climate change, it falls to each state to deal with pollution within its borders. Coal Free Future for Washington protects our communities from our state’s single largest source of dangerous and toxic pollution, the TransAlta coal-fired power plant. This bill will transition the dirty plant off coal in order to address Washington citizens’ widespread concerns about the health impacts of coal ash and mercury, climate change, and air and water pollution caused by the TransAlta plant. The legislation also seeks funding to invest in the local community for economic development, providing new opportunities for workers affected by the transition from coal to more sustainable and reliable energy. Earth Ministry is proud to be one of the leaders of this campaign.

Reducing Phosphorous Pollution
Words celebrating the blessing of living water are found throughout the Bible, and it is through sacramental water of baptism that we join the Christian faith. However, phosphorus from industries, wastewater plants, septic systems, and even our lawns can cause algae blooms and impact water quality, fish habitat, and recreation in Washington’s lakes and rivers. Controlling this discharge often costs millions of dollars in wastewater treatment upgrades for industries and municipal wastewater plants. The Freshwater Pollution Control Act is a common-sense, cost-effective approach to reducing phosphorus in waterways by restricting the sale of phosphorus lawn fertilizer in the State of Washington. Our lawns don’t need the extra phosphorus and our lakes and rivers don’t either.

The 2011 Clean Water Act
A central teaching of all Christian denominations is upholding the common good. Protecting our watersheds and requiring polluters to clean up their toxic mess is one way to care for the well-being of our communities. Each year millions of gallons of petroleum pollute our lakes, rivers and marine waters through toxic oil runoff from our roads and cities, a serious threat to our health and environment. Working for Clean Water (the 2011 Clean Water Act) will fund job-creating projects all over the state, by building clean water infrastructure that will clean up our waterways. Now is the time for the oil companies, who profit from the pollution, to put Washington back to work and provide a cleaner environment that we’ll be proud of for generations.

Budget Solutions for Our Environment
Caring for both people and the planet isn’t just a catchy slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. Washington State needs a proactive approach that will improve our economy while maintaining environmental protections. A key element to the long-term economic health of our state is protecting our clean water, clean air and special places. By sustaining core environmental protections, continuing investments in parks and preservation, and requiring companies and others to pay their fair share for the services they receive, we can strike a balance that even in hard times will protect our public health, economic future, and quality of life for all God’s children.

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