Coalition letter from faith community representatives to U.S. Senators urging adoption of a national energy policy based upon the values of justice and sustainability

June 2, 2003


The United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510


Dear Senator:


As representatives of the faith community, we urge you to adopt a national energy policy based upon the values of justice and sustainability. We believe the United States can and must meet the energy needs of the present without sacrificing environmental protection, despoiling pristine lands, and putting at risk the needs of future generations. Rather than charting a bold new path for the future, however, S.14, the Energy Policy Act of 2003, remains rooted in the unjust and unsustainable practices of the past.


People of faith have long recognized our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation. As individuals, congregations, and communities we are committed to pursuing God’s vision of a restored creation. To do so requires a change in current patterns of behavior and a reordering of our priorities.


Fulfilling this vision also requires bold leadership to enact policies that would meet global energy needs while combating global warming, conserving natural resources, reducing toxic waste and emissions and distributing fairly the burdens and benefits of a global energy system. Such policies would be grounded in our shared principles of environmental justice, stewardship, and intergenerational responsibility.


Unfortunately, S.14 does not reflect these principles. As currently written, the Energy Policy Act of 2003 emphasizes exploration over conservation, permits the exploitation of pristine ecosystems, and ignores our responsibility to address the real and growing threat of global warming. While we applaud efforts to increase funding for research and development of renewable energy alternatives, there remains an unjust disparity between these provisions and subsidies to the fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries.


During floor consideration of S.14, we urge you to adopt amendments aimed at reshaping the legislation to reflect our principles of justice, stewardship, and intergenerational responsibility. Specifically, we call on the Senate to:


Increase conservation measures including but not limited to higher fuel efficiency standards, greater industrial energy efficiency, and improved weatherization of buildings;
Invest in renewable energy technologies and adopt targets to increase the percentage of renewable energy used in the United States;


Protect pristine ecosystems – both on-shore and off-shore – from exploration and development;


Acknowledge the real and growing threat of global warming and take bold steps to curb US greenhouse gas emissions;


Adoption of amendments such as these would represent positive first steps towards a more just and sustainable national energy policy. Ultimately, if the legislation fails to incorporate fully our principles of environmental justice, stewardship and intergenerational responsibility, we urge you to oppose S.14.


Sincerely,


Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Director
Presbyterian Church (USA) Washington Office


Rabbi David Saperstein
Director
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism


Robert K. Cavenaugh
Director, Washington Office for Advocacy
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations


Hadar Susskind
Washington Representative
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life


Joe Volk
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation


Rev. Ron Stief
Minister and Team Leader
United Church of Christ –Justice and Witness Ministries


Maureen Shea
Director of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church, USA


Jim Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society
The United Methodist Church


J. Daryl Byler
Director
Mennonite Central Committee U.S., Washington Office


Greg Davidson Laszakovits
Coordinator
Church of the Brethren Washington Office


Dennis W. Frado
Acting Director - Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Brenda Girton-Mitchell
Associate General Secretary for Public Policy
National Council of Churches