Energy and Environment Update

June 1, 2010

In the last few weeks, there have been several developments in the domestic focus on energy and the environment that may inform your participation in and observance of World Environment Day 2010:


The BP Gulf Coast Oil Spill

The slow-motion tragedy of the gulf oil spill lays bare our collective failure as caretakers of God’s good creation. While unknown thousands of barrels of oil leak into the rich and diverse ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, how are we as Christians called to respond? While it is easy to express anger and cast blame at the companies who owned, operated and profited from the deep sea exploration, we must also reflect on our own complicity through our endless demand for cheap oil.


The American Power Act

On May 12, Senators John Kerry (MA) and Joe Lieberman (CT) introduced the American Power Act, a comprehensive energy and climate change bill that seeks to reduce US oil consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases. Bill outlines the following emissions reductions targets: 4.5% below 2005 levels by 2013; 17% below 2005 levels by 2020; 42% below 2005 levels by 2030; and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. The bill includes both a Funding for working families program and an Energy Refund program aimed at returning most of the revenue generated from emissions allowances to consumers. Finally, the legislation establishes the "international climate change and global security program" to provide international adaptation assistance, receiving 0.75% of allowances starting in 2019, ramping up to 3% by 2030.

  • Text of Legislation
  • Summary of the bill


Authority of the Environmental Protection Agency

On April 2, 2007, in MASSACHUSETTS et al. v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY et al., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to regulate emissions if the agency makes a finding that certain air pollutants would endanger the public health and welfare. Accordingly, the court concluded that EPA has the statutory authority to regulate the emission of such gases. Unfortunately, some members of Congress are seeking to overturn the Supreme Court's ruling, and thus, the EPA's authority to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Specifically, S.J. Res. 26 would officially disapprove of EPA’s work and prohibit its ruling on endangerment and regulations to take effect.


About World Environment Day

The United Nations General Assembly established World Environment Day in 1972 to call attention to the environment worldwide and stimulate political action and attention to the ways that we can maintain and protect the world’s natural beauty and promise for the future. Managed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Environment Day offers an opportunity for the nations, leaders, and citizens of the international community to focus on changing attitudes and environmental policies, empower communities to address the real impacts of environmental degradation, and advocate for better sustainable development that meets the world’s needs but protects the environment. Pittsburgh has been selected as the North American host city by the UNEP to join World Environment Day 2010.