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Dear MIP&L members and friends,
A major event in Washington, DC brought together senior administration officials from the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy with faith and community leaders from across the country. The meeting addressed:
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke passionately on the moral responsibility we have to care for creation and the tangible action we can take to increase energy efficiency. According to McCarthy, "We have a moral obligation to take care of this planet and the people on it.... Environmental injustice is happening in a proportion we cannot ignore." She told the faith leaders that they are the moral backbone of the nation's families and communities and urged them to promote clean energy and support efforts to reduce carbon pollution from an aging power plant sector. "It can be done," she said, emphatically. McCarthy emphasized the truly negative impacts of carbon pollution, highlighting significant health consequences for a broad range of demographics, but especially for low-income people of color. She also said that "energy efficiency is good economics for families, communities and religious congregations." She recommended use of the ENERGY STAR Action Workbook for Congregations.
Interfaith Power & Light President, Rev. Canon Sally Bingham said, "In the big picture we see our response to climate change as a reflection of our relationship with God. Do we love God enough to protect Creation as we are called to do? Do we love each other enough to plan for a safe and healthy future for the generations that come after us?"
Two panels, moderated by EPA staffers Lisa Garcia and Jerry Lawson, addressed issues of environmental justice and taking effective action. They encouraged participants to "be the head light, not the tail light!" to convey enthusiasm and be ready to sacrifice and take risks. Olay Assaf of the Muslim American Society of Boston and Melissa Rogers, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships were among the panelists. Also participating were White House, Department of Energy and Council on Environmental Quality officials. Mass. Interfaith Power & Light was represented by past president Tom Nutt-Powell. For a compilation of online resources on religion and climate change go here.
On Sunday March 30 from 4 to 6 pm at The Boston Synagogue, Rabbi Arthur Waskow will meet with Boston-area eco-Jewish activists at the Boston Synagogue to discuss The Shalom Center's work to prevent the climate crisis from becoming a climate catastrophe by moving toward the creation of a planetary Beloved Community. He will explore why the Jewish community is lagging behind other liberal religious communities on public advocacy regarding a move away from fossil fuels, and how to energize Jews to engage in these efforts – especially, but not exclusively, by utilizing The Shalom Center's Move Our Money/Protect Our Planet (MOM/POP) campaign, and by drawing on the Earth-related origins and meanings of the Jewish festival cycle.
The meeting will feature: conversations with Rabbi Waskow, reports by Eli Gerzon on Massachusetts pension-fund action, and a presentation by Eric Packer on alternative investments, interspersed with songs led by rabbinical student Shoshana Friedman. Light nosherei will be provided, and several of Rabbi Arthur's books will be available for inscription and purchase.
Rabbi Waskow founded The Shalom Center in 1983 and is the current director. He is also the author or editor of 22 books on US public policy and Jewish history, thought, and practice. Boston Synagogue is located at 55 Martha Rd, Boston, MA 02114. Directions by T or by car are available at http://www.bostonsynagogue.org/directions.html.
May 14 from 7-9 PM at Hancock Church, 1912 Mass. Ave., Lexington, MA
(Opposite the Lexington Green)
Sponsored by Mass. Interfaith Power & Light
From religious congregations to kitchen tables nationwide, people are debating divestment. The driving question: Should we divest from the fossil fuel industry?
Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, Minister and President of the Mass. Conference of the U.C.C.
Chuck Collins, Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies
Cindy Davidson, Unitarian Universalist Ministry for the Earth Board Member
Leslie Samuelrich, President, Green Century Funds
A spiritual discipline of fasting from carbon
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of a time when Christians engage in spiritual disciplines of repentance, fasting, prayer, study, and works of love. Today we must confront the fact that our actions – in combination with the actions of only a few preceding generations – have threatened God's creation through the excessive burning of fossil fuels. It is thus fitting to engage in a spiritual discipline of fasting from carbon during Lent. Over the past few years, thousands of people from all over the world have welcomed a day-by-day opportunity to fast from carbon as their Lenten discipline.
Make a carbon fast your congregation's Lenten activity! Organize an opportunity within your congregation for members to meet each week during Lent to discuss their own experience with this fast, and specifically to discuss weekly themes which focus on how the church can continue to engage this issue.
Here's how it works: Throughout Lent, participants will receive a daily email with the day's suggested carbon-reducing activity (see below for the link). If you're a pastor – SIGN UP ... and email this invitation to the people in your parish, tell them you'll be participating. Convene a weekly Lenten discussion focusing on the Carbon Fast. If you're part of a local clergy association, email it to your colleagues as well. Let's make protecting God's creation by reducing our carbon footprint a spiritual discipline which is as fundamental as prayer.
Click below or paste the following link in your browser to sign up to fast from carbon during Lent: www.macucc.org/carbonfast
From Rev. Dr. Jim Antal, President & Conf. Minister, MACUCC
Would your congregation like to lower its utility bills? Would you like to do what you can to decrease your use of fossil fuels, and the contribution they make to global warming? Are you interested in learning more about solar energy?
MIP&L's Sustainable House of Worship (SHOW) workshop covers all this and more, showing you how to evaluate 24 questions that will give you a comprehensive view of your house of worship's energy use and the largest opportunities for savings.
In this half-day session running from 8:30 am to noon you will learn:
Who should attend: Parishes are encouraged to send two members from their environment committee, property committee or vestry. Other members who are interested are also welcome.
Details are still being finalized and if you would like to be notified when registration opens, email email@example.com
Oil Heat Efficiency Bill Advances
Senate Bill 2025 — "An act further promoting energy efficiency and green jobs" sponsored by Sen. Jamie Eldredge (D-Acton) and Rep. Frank Smizik, (D-Brookline) has advanced to the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means. S. 2025 would create a fund to serve the millions in Massachusetts who depend on heating oil, enabling them to cut energy expenses and improve comfort. The price of heating oil in the Northeast has jumped 27% in the last three years, and is now hovering close to $4/gallon. Approximately 950,000 homes or about 32% of Bay State homes rely on heating oil, as do about 65% of houses of worship. By incentivizing efficiency and a green economy, this Bill will be particularly effective in lowering greenhouse gas emissions and alleviating the burden which expensive heating oil places on low-income families and communities.
The Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 set a goal for Massachusetts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) 25% by the year 2020. However, according to the GWSA Dashboard the state is on track to achieve only a 20% reduction in emissions. We can overcome this 5% gap if the "state takes additional steps expeditiously" including increasing heating oil efficiency.
Unlike gas and electric customers, homes and businesses in Massachusetts that rely on oil currently have limited access to energy-saving programs, spending between $2.5 and $3 billion a year on heating oil which is often their only heating fuel option, with natural gas infrastructure out of reach and renewable energy systems not yet viable. This is particularly harmful to low-income households who spend a disproportionately larger portion of their income on heating and energy costs. Senate Bill 2025 will place 20% of collected funds into "comprehensive low-income residential oil heat efficiency and education programs".
"Hope is like a road in the country;
there was never a road, but when many people walk on it,
the road comes into existence"
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Peace and blessings,
Your friends at MIP&L