Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reject plan for coal export terminals - it's the neighborly thing to do

Americans have decided that we don't want coal-fired power plants here at home. Community groups have blocked construction of new coal plants for the last decade. Many states-including Washington!-are phasing out existing plants.

But to keep their profits high, greedy coal companies want to move strip-mined coal from Montana and Wyoming 1,500 miles by open rail car, through Washington and Oregon communities to be burned in Asia. In an op-ed last week for The News Tribune, Earth Ministry board member and Christian ethics professor, Kevin O'Brien, explained why coal export is not compatible with his faith.

O'Brien begins with Jesus' commandment to "love our neighbors as ourselves" and points out that this golden rule is a universal ethical principle, not unique to Christianity. In fact, people from all faith traditions and even those without a faith background strive to treat others as we would like to be treated.

Beginning with our neighbors at home, O'Brien argues that coal export does not follow this golden rule. The coal dust blown off the coal trains traveling through Washington and the Northwest contains heavy metals which rob our children and communities of their health. Additionally, the mile-long coal trains stall traffic and split cities, potentially blocking ambulances from hospitals they need to reach.

However, allowing coal export is not only being a bad neighbor within the Pacific Northwest but also abroad.
Refusing to export coal is, finally, the right thing to do for our world. If coal is too dirty for us to burn here in Washington, then we should not send it across the ocean where it will poison others. In the face of a changing climate, we all have a vested interest in keeping fossil fuels in the ground rather than allowing them to pollute our atmosphere.

It is true that developing economies in Asia need energy sources, but we should offer tools for clean and renewable power rather than dirty fossil fuels. If we truly care for our neighbors around the world, we must say no to coal export terminals.
As people of faith, we must make the moral choice in caring for our neighbors and the Earth. Join with Kevin O'Brien, Earth Ministry, and numerous faith leaders in being good neighbors by rejecting coal export!

Read O'Brien's full op-ed online at The News Tribune.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sacred Acts by Mallory McDuff

From evangelicals to Episcopalians, people of faith are mobilizing to confront climate change. Now on sale, Sacred Acts, is a new, unique anthology by Mallory McDuff. The book brings together stories from across North America of contemporary church leaders, parishioners, and religious activists who are working to define a new environmental movement, where honoring the Creator means protecting the planet.

Sacred Acts documents the diverse actions taken by churches to address climate change through stewardship, advocacy, spirituality, and justice. The book features a chapter written by Earth Ministry's Executive Director, LeeAnne Beres, and Program and Outreach Director, Jessie Dye. Their chapter is entitled "From Church Sanctuaries to the Steps of the Capitol: Faithful Advocacy for a Coal-Free Washington" and details the faith community's leadership in successfully passing a bill in 2011 to phase out Washington's only coal-fired power plant.

LeeAnne and Jessie describe how faithful advocacy builds upon individual faith formation and congregational work to live out Jesus' call to discipleship. They recall Earth Ministry's own development and the need for all three of these branches. Together, committed individuals, greening congregations, and faithful advocates have the power and strength to make a real difference in the sustaining the Earth. Earth Ministry's success in leading a Coal-Free Washington is proof of just that.

Order your own copy of Sacred Acts here! A percentage of the proceeds of sales through this link benefits Earth Ministry.

Other chapters focus upon food and faith, mountaintop removal in Applalachia, environmental justice. Sacred Acts is an orientation to the environmental stewardship of churches across the United States. The book's case studies show the impact that faith communities are having upon climate change.

Have you already read Sacred Acts? Let us know your thoughts and insights in the comments section below.