Griswold joins 1,200 religious leaders calling for energy conservation

February 25, 2002

In response to the Bush Administration's recently announced climate change plan, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold joined over 1,200 leaders of major US religious denominations in a letter sent to every U.S. Senator, with specific proposals for energy conservation, fuel efficiency, and alternate energy development 'to protect God's creation and God's children.'

A similar resolution was passed by the Episcopal Church's Executive Council at its February 22-25 meeting in San Antonio.

The statement stressed 'the intimate link between the safety of our people and the reliability of our energy system.' 'We're telling the Congress that energy conservation is necessary for homeland security as well as environmental protection and justice. Lives are at stake here,' said the Rev. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches. 'The President's energy plan would have us drill in the Arctic, increase nuclear power, and subsidize big polluting energy companies. There are safer, more sustainable strategies,' added Edgar.

The 1,200 leaders and a 21-state 'Interfaith Climate and Energy' campaign called upon the Senate to pass legislation which would:

Substantially increase vehicle fuel efficiency; encourage the auto industry to produce vehicles using hybrid-electric, fuel cell, and other clean technologies and provide incentives for their purchase.

 Prevent drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

 Invest in renewable energy sources such as wind, geothermal, solar, and biomass technologies.

 Include carbon dioxide as a regulated pollutant from power plants.

 Increase funds for low-income energy assistance and inner-city rail and mass transit.

'We're telling our congregations that energy conservation is a way to honor our covenant with our God,' said Archbishop Khahag S. Barsamian of the Armenian Church of America.

'From our pulpits and in our pews, we will preach and pray the message of creation care and energy conservation. And we hope, this week, that our Senators will be God's stewards,' added Bishop Thomas J. Hoyt Jr. of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

Other signers of the letter include leaders of such major faith communities as: United Methodist, Presbyterian, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Greek Orthodox, Episcopal, American Baptist, Lutheran, and Catholic bishops of major metropolitan areas.

An Interfaith Call for Energy Conservation and Climate Justice

February 26, 2002

Dear Senator:

As leaders of major faith communities, we write to you, our senators, at a moment of great moral urgency for our nation and the planet - God's children and God's creation. We caution Congress not to adopt an energy policy based on short-term regard for long term solutions. On May 18, 2001, 41 heads of major denominations and senior religious leaders joined in issuing 'Let There Be Light: An Interfaith Call for Energy Conservation and Climate Justice.' In this document, they lifted up these moral stakes of a sustainable energy policy:

'At stake are: the future of God's creation on earth; the nature and durability of our economy; our public health and public lands; the environment and quality of life we bequeath our children and grandchildren. We are being called to consider national purpose not just policy.'

Drawing upon scripture, the statement affirmed the importance of considering long-standing principles of faith and values concerning all of creation - stewardship, covenant, justice, prudence, solidarity, and intergenerational equity. Today, more than ever, these precepts should guide our action. Recent events remind us of the intimate link between the safety of people and the reliability of our energy system. Efforts to preserve the environment are ever more clearly necessary in order to protect human life. Security and sustainability are inextricably linked.

We agree with President Bush's statement on October 11 that said, 'The less dependent we are on foreign sources of crude oil, the more secure we are at home.' Yet, it is clear that we do not have sufficient domestic reserves to replace foreign oil supplies. Conservation and reducing our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels is critical to achieving energy independence and can be accomplished in economically responsible and economically beneficial ways.

Concerning energy use, we believe that conservation and the development of the cleanest technologies possible are the wisest, most just, and most prudent means to fulfill our moral obligations to ensure the health and well-being of the American people and people around the world, now and for generations to come. We have established Interfaith Climate and Energy campaigns in 21 states that are educating congregations on the link between energy conservation and renewable energy sources that benefit climate change reduction.

Rooted in moral values and concern for God's creation and God's children, we support the following energy policy initiatives:

Raise substantially vehicle fuel economy across the board in the shortest feasible timeframe, and require SUVs, minivans, and passenger cars to meet the same standard.

Develop strategies to encourage the auto industry to further design and produce vehicles using hybrid-electric, fuel cell, and other promising clean technologies, and provide incentives for their purchase.

Support substantially increased funding for inter-city rail and metropolitan mass transit to provide attractive and functional alternatives to single occupancy autos.

Fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and increase it with the least possible environmental damage.

We strongly oppose policies that would allow drilling or mining in our nation's dwindling wild lands and places important to the traditional cultures of indigenous peoples. We specifically oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Conservation is a morally superior alternative to drilling in such places. Furthermore, conservation is also more effective, providing much greater benefits that are more permanent, rather than a modest and short-lived increase in oil supply.

Alongside energy concerns that relate directly to oil, we have longstanding distress about other health and environmental effects of energy policy, including global climate change. Therefore, we support policies that would:

Invest significantly more resources in renewable energy research and development with a focus on wind, geothermal, solar and biomass technologies.

Include carbon dioxide as a regulated pollutant from power plants.

Apply the strictest feasible energy efficiency standards to consumer products, including air conditioners.

Increase funds for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program and other programs to alleviate economic hardship on low-income people caused by high energy prices.

Now is the time to embrace energy conservation and efficiency and alternative energy development as the central strategies of our nation's energy policy. The energy policies we adopt in the coming debate must reflect our resolve as a nation to be faithful to our values and to fulfill our obligations at a time of national crisis.

God calls humans to strive toward peace, justice, and harmony for all of creation. We have called on our congregants and communities to practice energy conservation as part of our values. Now we urgently call on the United States Congress and the Administration. As this critical issue comes forward for legislative action, we call upon our senators to reflect and act as God's stewards. The same energy policies that will help achieve peace for humankind by reducing our dependence on oil will create greater harmony within creation by protecting the environment.

Together, we can achieve energy solutions that embody and promote justice, stewardship, and intergenerational responsibility. We urge you to consider and consult these values as you evaluate the energy policy options before the nation and work to pass responsible and effective legislation.

Yours faithfully,

1,200 signatures including:

ACADEMY FOR JEWISH RELIGION
Rabbi David Greenstein, President

AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Bishop McKinley Young

ALEPH: ALLIANCE FOR JEWISH RENEWAL
Rabbi Daniel Siegel, Rabbinic Director

ALLIANCE OF BAPTISTS
Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey, Executive Director

AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCHES
Rev. A. Roy Medley, General Secretary

ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN ARCHDIOCESE OF NORTH AMERICA
The Most. Rev. Metropolitan Philip Saliba

CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS
Rabbi Paul J. Menitoff, Executive Vice President

CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)
Rev. Dr. Richard L. Hamm, General Minister and President

CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
Rev. Judy Mills Reimer, General Secretary

COMMUNITY OF CHRIST
Grant McMurray, President

EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
Rev. Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop

THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop

GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
His Eminence Archbishop Demitrios

INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF COMMUNITY CHURCHES
Rev. Michael E. Livingston, Executive Director

KOREAN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
Rev. Dr. Seung K. Choi, General Secretary

MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE, U.S.
Jose Ortiz, Executive Director

MENNONITE CHURCH
Susan Mark Landis, Minister of peace and justice

MORAVIAN CHURCH - NORTHERN PROVINCE
Rev. R. Burke Johnson, President

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN
Sandra Lief Garrett, Executive Director
Jan Schneiderman, National President

NATIONAL COUNCIL OF THE CHURCHES OF CHRIST IN THE USA
Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary

THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA
His Beatitude Metropolitan Theodosius

PATRIARCHAL PARISHES - RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
The Most Reverend Mercurius, Bishop of Zaraisk

PHILADELPHIA YEARLY MEETING

THE RELIGIOUS SOCIETY OF FRIENDS
Friend Thomas Jeavons

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH USA
Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk

RABBINICAL ASSEMBLY
Rabbi Joel H. Meyers, Executive Director
Rabbi Vernon H. Kurtz, President
Rabbi Lee S. Paskind, Chair, Social Action Committee

RECONTRUCTIONIST RABBINICAL ASSOCIATION
Rabbi Richard Hirsch, Executive Director

RECONTRUCTIONIST RABBINICAL COLLEGE
Rabbi David A. Teutsch, President
Donald Shapiro, Chairman of the Board

REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA
Rev. Wesley S. Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary

RELIGIOUS ACTION CENTER OF REFORM JUDAISM
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Br. David Andrews, CSC

Executive Director, National Catholic Rural Life Conference
The Most Rev. Kevin T. Boland
Bishop, Diocese of Savannah
The Most Rev. John T. Donoghue
Archbishop, Atlanta Archdiocese
The Most Rev. Kenneth E Untener
Bishop, Diocese of Saginaw

SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN THE USA AND CANADA
Metropolitan Christopher President, Episcopal Council

SYRIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF ANTIOCH
His Eminence Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, Patriarchal vicar for the eastern U.S.

TONY CAMPOLO MINISTRIES
Rev. Tony Campolo

UNION OF AMERICAN HEBREW CONGREGATIONS
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President

UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOCIATION OF CONGREGATIONS
Rev. William G. Sinkford, President

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President

UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, Ecumenical Officer, Council of Bishops

UNITED SYNAGOGUE OF CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM
Rabbi Jerome Epstein, Executive Vice President

UNIVERSITY OF JUDAISM - ZEIGLER SCHOOL OF RABBINIC STUDIES
Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, Dean