Coalition letter written to members of the U.S. Senate regarding the Energy Bill

November 17, 2003

Dear Senator:

Earlier this year, representatives of the faith community wrote to you and urged adoption of a national energy policy rooted in the core values of justice and sustainability. We continue to 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. Unfortunately, the final conference agreement on HR 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2003, fails to chart a bold new path for the future and instead perpetuates the unjust and unsustainable practices of the past. We therefore urge you to oppose this legislation.

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.

While we applaud the legislation’s increased funding for renewable energy options, we remain alarmed at the unjust disparity between these provisions and the massive subsidies included for fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries. Likewise, we support the continued protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas exploration, yet are concerned by provisions that could put at risk other sensitive ecosystems. Furthermore, the omission of higher fuel efficiency standards, a renewable portfolio standard, or any steps to curb US greenhouse gas emissions, represents a failure to address the present unsustainable patterns of energy usage.

While we are still sorting through many of the provisions buried in the 1000+ page bill, early reports have unearthed a number of industry-specific exemptions, liability shields and tax breaks. The sum total of these provisions, along with the delay in certain clean air act requirements, represents a perpetuation of a system that values exploration over conservation, industry protection over creation stewardship, and the present over future generations.

Now is a time for bold leadership. We therefore ask you to reject HR 6, the Energy Policy Act of 2003, and pursue instead new legislation fully incorporating our shared values of environmental justice, creation stewardship, and intergenerational responsibility.

Sincerely,

Hadar Suskind
Washington Representative
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

Phil L. Jones
Director
Brethren Witness - Washington Office

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

Sonia Dueno
Coordinator - Washington Office on Vieques
Fellowship of Reconciliation

Robert Keithan
Director, Washington Office for Advocacy
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

Rev. Dr. Pat Conover
Legislative Director
United Church of Christ - Justice and Witness Ministries

Danielle Welliever
Director for Environmental Education and Advocacy
Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Director
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office

Maureen Shea
Director of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church, USA

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

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

Joe Volk
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation