When Texas’ governor Rick Perry denied that the actions of oil and gas companies were having an environmental impact on his people and suggested that they “pray for rain“, I thought that would be the low point. America’s collective “rock bottom”, if you will, in the heated debate between the obvious and the stupid. That was before I learned about Alabama.
“Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” asked Republican political candidate Chip Beeker, at a press conference on Monday at the offices of the Alabama Coal Association. Beeker argued that coal “was created in Alabama by God”, and that the federal government should not back the EPA’s plans to reduce the emissions allowed by coal-fired plants by 50%, claiming that these run counter to God’s plan.
Rather than get into whether that’s a ridiculous argument or a laughably ridiculous argument, I’ll hand off the rest of this post to Robyn Purchia, who covered the matter on our sister site, EdenKeeper. Enjoy!
Alabama Officials Ask God to Block EPA Carbon Rules
In an interesting take on the Christian environmental concepts of stewardship and resurrection, Alabama state officials urged the state’s residents to pray for divine intervention to block proposed federal regulations for coal-fired plants, saying such policies violate God’s laws. Chip Beeker, a Republican who is running unopposed for a Public Service Commission seat, said coal was created in Alabama by God and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God’s plan.
“Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” asked Beeker at a press conference on Monday at the offices of the Alabama Coal Association.
In June, the EPA announced its intent to implement new standards meant to curb “carbon pollution” from coal-fired power plants. Such emissions are not only among the biggest contributors to climate change, but also cause air and water pollution, as well as impacts to public health. And while Beeker may accuse President Obama of “taking” coal from the state, according to EPA documents, the proposal would only require Alabama to lower carbon emissions from its coal-fired plants by 27 percent from 2012 levels.
The threats posed by carbon pollution have actually caused religious organizations throughout the country to come out in favor of the proposed regulations. When they were first proposed, Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Director for Public Witness at the Presbyterian Church USA said, “today is a day to rejoice that the United States is taking a step toward limiting our detrimental contributions to global climate change.” Other religious groups, such as Interfaith Power & Light and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, were also quick to praise the EPA.
“I have been called by God to speak out on these issues and believe it is my conviction as an evangelical Christian that we must be stewards of God’s creation,” the Rev. Richard Cizik, a former top lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals and now president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, plans to say today at the EPA hearing in Washington, according to his prepared remarks.
Ignoring the call to stewardship and asking God to allow Alabama to continue to pollute the state, endanger the health of its residents, and contribute to climate change would be laughable if the article had appeared in The Onion. But the reality behind the situation is scary. When are people going to stop using religion to mask their real fears: change? In this case, the change is coming in the form of an economic transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a cleaner, green economy.
PSC Commissioner Jeremy Oden said he believes the EPA has dramatically underestimated the economic impact that the proposed regulations will have. There is a real concern about jobs and utility rates that should be addressed and discussed as any new federal regulation moves forward. Federal and state officials must think about steps to transition the economy so that people aren’t left out of work — a totally, doable proposition.
I propose we switch our prayer. Instead of praying that God allow us to continue to destroy creation, let’s pray for the wisdom to find the right balance between caring for creation and caring for all people. Let’s pray for the cooperation as we transition our economy from one dependent on fossil fuels to one with a greater variety of energy sources. And let’s pray for a future that is healthier and more peaceful.
Source | Images: EdenKeeper.