50,000 Pro-Life Evangelicals in Texas Calling 100% Clean Electricity by 2030

Events Held in Abilene and Dallas

Nearly 50,000 pro-life Christians in Texas are calling for Gov. Abbott to create a plan for the state to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2030, as part of the Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN).

“Texas is a top generator of wind energy, but the state’s clean energy potential is so much greater; Texas could lead the nation and become America’s clean energy powerhouse,” said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President/CEO EEN.  “Cleaning up our air will protect the unborn from harmful pollution and make it easier to breathe for the 638,000 children in Texas who have asthma.  It’s the right thing to do.”

Here is what pro-life Christians in Texas are fighting for as part of the Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign:

  • Free our children from pollution all across America with 100% clean electricity from renewable resources by 2030.
  • Defend our freedom to create our own electricity from wind & sunshine, without fees championed by monopolistic utilities to make it unaffordable and out of reach.
  • Free our communities from regulations that prevent us from joining together to create our own clean electricity and sell what we don’t need to others.
  • Free businesses from such regulations so that they, too, can create and sell clean electricity.

Rev. Hescox will be at Abilene Christian University giving presentations and speaking at chapel this Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  On Friday Rev. Hescox will be at Earth Day Dallas (click here).

Problems with Pennsylvania’s Fiscal Code Legislation

by Rev. Mitch Hescox

We are thankful to Pennsylvania’s Governor Wolf for vetoing HB 1327, the fiscal code legislation.  As pro-life Christians, we are deeply concerned for the impacts HB 1327 would have on our children’s health. We have urged the General Assembly to allow this toxic version to fade away and pass a clean fiscal code without amendments.

If the General Assembly were to override Governor Wolf’s veto of HB 1327, this would do the following.

  • Take away $12 million from energy efficiency programs contained in the Alternative Energy Investment Act to provide natural gas connection grants.
  • Make it easier to drill near schools, playgrounds, and public water supplies.
  • Allow either chamber of the General Assembly to unilaterally disapprove Pennsylvania’s Clean Power Plan. This is not only unconstitutional, but would slow down Pennsylvania’s transition to a clean energy future for our children.

Pro-life Christians, in Pennsylvania and across our nation, are calling for new clean energy to defend the life and health of our children. This isn’t some future threat but concern over our children and grandchildren’s lives today.  Already 1 in 3 of our kids have asthma, autism, ADHD, or allergies with direct links to fossil fuels and petrochemicals. That’s why over 70,000 pro-life Pennsylvania Christians have voiced their support for reducing carbon pollution, methane leaks, and producing clean renewable energy.

Here are just a few of the harmful impacts from fossil fuel pollution on our PA kids:

  1. Medical studies from Butler County, PA link natural gas drilling to low birth weight and additional studies point toward potential birth defects.
  2. Methane and carbon pollution force climate change increasing spring and fall temperatures. Rising temperatures have increased the geographic spread of Lyme Disease, making it almost an epidemic according to the Center for Disease Control.
  3. Already much of Pennsylvania’s air is foul. Allegheny, Armstrong, Berks, Blair, Bucks, Chester, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Indiana, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mercer, Northampton, and York all receive flunking grades in ozone and/or particle emissions according to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report.  And our continued polluted air threatens the health, life, and wellbeing of over 277,000 Pennsylvania’s kids who already struggle to breathe thanks to asthma.
  4. Methane is both a chemical precursor to smog and 26 times more potent greenhouse gas forcing continued temperature rise (increasing ozone). Leaking methane from current, old and abandoned natural gas wells and infrastructure, guarantees that Pennsylvania will never reach safe ozone levels without reducing the leaks in all natural gas infrastructure.

Here’s a look at what happens if the Governor’s veto is overridden:

  1. Robbing Energy Efficiency to Subsidize Natural Gas

HR 1327 would transfer $12 million dollars from energy efficiency programs contained in the Alternative Energy Investment Act to provide grants and loans to businesses, schools, hospitals, and municipalities in order for them to build connections to natural gas pipelines.

While natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal, this provision only serves as another subsidy to the natural gas industry.  With clean renewable energy at or nearly at market parity with natural gas, why cling to the past? Additionally, energy efficiency remains by far the most cost competitive approach. As highlighted in the bipartisan Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future, “expanding energy efficiency and renewable energy in a cost-effective way strengthens our states’ economic productivity, reduces air pollution and avoids energy waste.” Extensive research bears out this relationship between clean energy, job creation, and a strong economy – and also makes clear that expanding clean energy and energy efficiency is likely to lower Pennsylvanians’ electricity bills.[i]

Clean energy results in good jobs. An Environmental Entrepreneurs and Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance report states over 57,000 clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania at over 4,200 businesses—and a majority of those work in energy efficiency.[ii]  Compare clean energy employment now and its potential versus the approximately 7,000 coal mining jobs left in Pennsylvania. Future economic vitality must move beyond past and embrace a clean energy future.

As good stewards of all God has given us including caring for His creation, we want the freedom to choose our own energy including the ability to produce our own electricity through rooftop solar without restrictions that favor monopoly utilities or the massive tax breaks provided to the fossil fuel industry.  According to an April 2015 report by Penn Environment, Pennsylvania provided more than $3.2 billion in fossil fuels subsidies during fiscal year 2012-2013.[iii]  While this report includes many standard deductions applicable to most businesses, it’s easy to delineate unique breaks for the fossil fuel industry at amounts of $500 million or more per year.

For conservatives like us, Pennsylvania’s subsidies for energy are an affront to our values.  In a state that isn’t educating our kids and can’t agree on a state budget, taking at least $500 million per year out of our pockets is quite frankly and simply wrong.  Especially, when the Legislature fails to consider a state natural gas excise or extraction fee that leaves at least another $200 million dollars (over the existing impact fees) in the pockets of the natural gas industry. Even Texas collects an extraction tax and uses the funds for public education.

  1. Drilling Near Schools, Playgrounds, and Public Water Supplies

In another handout to the oil and gas industry, HB-1327 vacated over four years of efforts by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to update environmental protection performance standards at oil and gas well sites.  While HB-1327 only negates the conventional oil and gas operations sections, it will be hard to separate the new 78a for unconventional wells (fracking) as they are contained in the same rule making process.

The new DEP regulations would limit, until review, drilling near schools, playgrounds, public water supplies, old wells, or other areas that have potential public impact.  The new standards would also require any polluted water to be restored to pre-drilling quality, and better spill notification and management.  By trying to gut these new regulations, the Pennsylvania General Assembly again wishes to protect the fossil fuel industry instead of our children.

  1. An Unconstitutional Effort to Kill Pennsylvania’s Clean Power Plan

The final problem refers to the continuing attempts to delay the study, process, and drafting of a Pennsylvania State Implementation Plan for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.  To move Pennsylvania into the clean energy future, DEP should continue the state planning process to implement the Clean Power Plan.

Pennsylvania has been a national leader on implementation, and was accepted into the National Governors Association “Policy Academy” to analyze and model what compliance approaches will work best for the Commonwealth.  PA’s DEP has collected more stakeholder input on Clean Power Plan compliance than any other state, putting us in a strong position to move ahead.

As a result of its planning and engagement with stakeholders, DEP is now uniquely positioned to finish a state plan with a relatively small commitment of time and resources, as opposed to the loss of momentum and focus it would face if Pennsylvania were to stop.  To restart at a later date would be costly and foolish.

Additionally, failing to move forward with a state plan could ultimately make Clean Power Plan compliance more difficult for Pennsylvania. The start-date for generators’ compliance obligations will likely remain 2022.  States that postpone planning until after federal litigation could find themselves with much less time to develop a thoughtful state plan that works for their communities, workers, and generators, with less time for these stakeholders to comply.  DEP will develop a “least-cost compliance approach to benefit consumers of electricity,” as required by law, and the sooner DEP does so, the sooner we can address head-on the ongoing transformation of the state’s power sector, protect Pennsylvania’s consumers and the communities in the state’s coal regions, and ensure reliability for the electric grid.

During PA DEP’s public comment period on the state plan last fall, more than 2,000 citizens, generators, businesses, trade groups, legislators, faith groups, and non-profit organizations filed written comments or testified at 14 public listening sessions throughout the commonwealth.

More than 80 percent of commenters said they wanted the state to expand clean energy, more than 90 percent expressed support for the DEP’s development of a tailored state plan, and almost 70 percent said they wanted Pennsylvania to submit its implementation plan to EPA on time.

These figures reflect bipartisan polling from Public Opinion Strategies in 2014, which found that 82% of Pennsylvanians endorsed a state-crafted plan to curb carbon pollution, while even higher percentages wanted more investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Clearly Pennsylvanians, including pro-life Christians, want their leaders to develop a plan that transitions away from dirty energy sources and focuses on clean, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. DEP should continue its efforts to plan for a clean energy future in Pennsylvania that protects health and the environment and strengthens our economy. We strongly oppose any legislation that delays DEP efforts to develop a state compliance plan.

Now is not the time to take away money from schools for energy efficiency; nor is it the time to make it easier to drill near schools.  Rather, now is the time to create a healthy future for our children powered by clean energy, and Pennsylvania’s Clean Power Plan will help bring about this future.

Instead of partisan divides, let’s work together for a clean energy future that protects our kids, gives them a healthy future, and allows the market to determine our energy future.

Rev. Mitch Hescox is the President of the Evangelical Environmental Network. He and his family live in New Freedom, PA. 

[i] See also Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., Bill Savings in a Clean Energy Future (July 23, 2015, revised October 26, 2015), available at http://www.synapse-energy.com/sites/default/files/Bill-Savings-in-a-Clean-Energy-Future.pdf and Brown et al., Low-Carbon Pathways for the U.S. and the South: an Assessment of Costs and Options (Georgia Institute of Technology, July, 2015), available at http://spp.gatech.edu/sites/default/files/publication/download/Low-Carbon_Pathway.pdf

[ii] http://cleanenergyworksforus.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/CleanJobsPennsylvania.pdf

[iii] http://www.pafossilfuelhandouts.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/FossilFuelSubsidyReport_PennFuture.pdf

 

Evangelicals Support Governor Wolf’s Veto of Toxic Bill

Statement by Rev. Mitch Hescox:

We are thankful to Governor Wolf for vetoing HB 1327, the fiscal code legislation.  As pro-life Christians, we are deeply concerned for the impacts HB 1327 would have on our children’s health. We urge the General Assembly to allow this toxic version to fade away and pass a clean fiscal code without amendments.

If the General Assembly were to override Governor Wolf’s veto of HB 1327, this would:

  • Take away $12 million from energy efficiency programs contained in the Alternative Energy Investment Act to provide natural gas connection grants.
  • The bill would make it easier to drill near schools, playgrounds, and public water supplies.
  • Allows either chamber of the General Assembly to unilaterally disapprove Pennsylvania’s Clean Power Plan. This is not only unconstitutional, but would slow down Pennsylvania’s transition to a clean energy future for our children.

“Today 1 in 3 of our kids has asthma, autism, ADHD, or allergies with direct links to fossil fuels and petrochemicals,” stated EEN’s President, Rev. Mitch Hescox, “That’s why pro-life Christians in Pennsylvania have voiced their support for reducing carbon pollution, methane leaks, and producing clean energy.”

Significant Commitment Made to Reduce Methane from Existing Sources 

Statement by Rev. Mitch Hescox:

“Today in a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Obama announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin to develop regulations for methane pollution from existing oil and gas resources. A White House statement said that the EPA ‘will move as expeditiously as possible to complete this task.’

Nearly 92,000 pro-life Christians from 21 states have called for elected officials to reduce methane pollution from existing sources. As such, we applaud this positive leadership from President Obama and the EPA.

As pro-life Christians, we have a special concern for the unborn. We want children to be born healthy and unhindered by the ravages of pollution even before they take their first breath. Studies have shown that smog, VOCs, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact upon life in the womb. Leaks in our natural gas infrastructure spew out smog precursors, as well as other toxic pollutants and cancer-causing agents like benzene.

We want the unborn and those yet to be born to have a world free of dangerous climate change. Yet today from or natural gas infrastructure large amounts of methane are being released, a climate pollutant 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over a 20 year timeframe. And it is what we do over the next 20 years that will determine whether our struggle to overcome climate change will be won or lost. That is why reducing methane pollution is morally strategic.” 

Over 24,000 Pro-Life Christians in Texas Are Calling for 100% Clean Electricity by 2030

Asking Gov. Abbott and Presidential Candidates to Lead the Way

Pollution harms the unborn, causing damage that last’s a lifetime.  Dirty air and water has serious consequences for the health of our children.

This is why pro-life Christians must lead the charge on clean energy, and why the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is organizing half a million pro-life Christians across the country to participate in EEN’s Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign (sign the petition).  In just a few weeks 24,642 pro-life Christians in Texas have already joined, calling for 100% clean electricity by 2030.  According to a just released poll by the University of Texas they are in good company:  86% of Americans support action for energy security.

“It is time to stop poisoning the womb and our environment and create a cleaner, brighter future for our children, free from pollution,” said the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.  “Over 638,000 kids in Texas have asthma, and pollution makes it hard for them to breath.  That’s not right,” said Rev. Hescox.

“The Holy Bible testifies to God’s mandate on all Believers to care for Creation. Industrial pollution is clearly harmful to the environment and threatens to harm human lives. That is why Christians in Texas are asking policy makers to make creation care a priority,” said Rev. Dr. Daniel Flores, The Hispanic Wesleyan Society, Fort Worth, TX.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform how we create electricity for our homes and businesses – not with the old and outdated approaches from the past, like coal-burning power plants run by state-sanctioned monopolies – but with clean, new, innovative approaches like those powered by wind and by sunshine, such as rooftop solar, owned by families and individuals.

Texas can lead the way, leaving in the past that it is the nation’s biggest polluter by becoming the biggest winner in clean energy.  Texas is blessed with the largest abundance in clean energy potential in the country (learn more about what’s possible in Texas).  The state is already the biggest producer of wind generated electricity; indeed, on February 18 Texas a new record for wind generation, producing over 14,000 MW of electricity supplying over 45% of the state’s needs.

The Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign is asking Gov. Abbott and the presidential candidates  to do what’s right, stand up to utility monopolies protecting their profits at our expense, and defend the right of families, individuals, communities, and businesses to help set us free from pollution by creating our own clean electricity and selling what we don’t need to others.

Here is what half a million pro-life Christians will be  fighting for, and what we’re asking from our elected officials like Gov. Abbott and the presidential candidates:

  • Free our children from pollution all across America with 100% clean electricity from renewable resources by 2030.
  • Defend our freedom to create our own electricity from wind & sunshine, without fees championed by monopolistic utilities to make it unaffordable and out of reach.
  • Free our communities from regulations that prevent us from joining together to create our own clean electricity and sell what we don’t need to others.
  • Free businesses from such regulations so that they, too, can create and sell clean electricity.

“Our children, both the unborn and born, deserve the right to an abundant life unhindered by pollutants that threaten their hearts, lungs, and brains.  We have a biblical responsibility to defend our children and at the same time empower our markets for energy freedom,” said Hescox.

Gov. Wolf Strengthens Governors Push for Clean Energy

Yesterday Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf joined a bipartisan group of 17 Governors, whose states represent over 40% of the US population, in signing an Accord where they pledge to help create a cleaner more prosperous future for our children.

Gov. Wolf and his 16 fellow Governor’s believe that:

“American prosperity has always depended on embracing new ideas and technologies. By deploying renewable, cleaner and more efficient energy solutions, we can make our national economy more productive and resilient.”

We wholeheartedly agree with Gov. Wolf and his colleagues and are grateful for their leadership –  and we have two things to offer from our Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign.

First, the Accord would be strengthened by a clean energy goal, and we have just the right one from our Campaign: 100% clean electricity in each of their states by 2030.

Second, when their efforts help us achieve 100% clean energy by 2030 we will be there to support them; this year we will be organizing half a million pro-life Christians to be a part of our Campaign.

The public here in Pennsylvania is already with us even before we get started.  Eighty-Two percent of Pennsylvanians support a clean energy future and among them are at least 67,000 pro-life Christians already working with us who demand a pollution-free future our children and grandchildren.

Here is where the Governors Accord and our Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign align:

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We have launched our Pro-Life Clean Energy Campaign because pollution harms the unborn, causing damage that last’s a lifetime.  Dirty air and water has serious consequences for the health of our children and other vulnerable populations like the elderly.  It is time to stop poisoning the womb and our environment and create a cleaner, brighter future for our children, free from pollution.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform how we create electricity for our homes and businesses – not with the old, dirty, outdated, wasteful approaches from the past, like coal-burning power plants run by state-sanctioned monopolies – but with clean, new, innovative approaches like those powered by wind and  by sunshine, such as rooftop solar, owned by families and individuals.

That’s why we support Gov. Wolf and this bipartisan group of 17 Governors, and will be encouraging them to do even more by affirming our goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030.

 

Pro-Life Christians Support BLM Proposed Natural Gas Standard

A Statement by the Rev. Mitch Hescox
President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN)

Today the Bureau of Land Management proposed new standards for natural gas waste from flaring, venting, and leaks from production operations on public and Indian lands.  We applaud the BLM’s actions and are thankful this standard will help defend our children from the threats that fugitive methane releases have on our unborn and born children.

As pro-life evangelicals, we have a special concern for the unborn.  We want children to be born healthy and unhindered by the ravages of pollution, pollution that impacts them even before they take their first breath.  The medical community has long known of the environmental impacts on our unborn children. The once thought chemical protection a mother gives her developing child is untrue. Studies have shown that smog, VOCs, and air toxics have a disproportionate impact upon life in the womb. A recent study by Shaina L. Stacy and others at the University of Pittsburgh found evidence of low birthweight babies associated with proximity to unconventional natural gas wells in Butler County, PA,[1] and Lisa M. McKenzie, Colorado School of Public Health, published peer reviewed research linking birth defects to methane production.[2]  The authors admit more research is needed, but the initial conclusions in of themselves demand action to reduce natural gas releases.

In addition to wasting enough natural gas to heat 5.1 million homes, the venting and leaks spew out smog precursors as well and, as such, add to our failing air quality.  The United States has 35.1 million kids with asthma according to the American Lung Association and much of our nation’s air exceeds limits for both ozone (smog) and particulates (soot) emissions, making the need to stop natural gas leaks urgent.

These leaks threaten our most vulnerable, as shared earlier, and also add to climate disruption. We want our loved ones, the unborn, and those yet to be born to inherit a world free of climate change.  Yet, today from our natural gas infrastructure large amounts of methane are being released, a climate pollutant 86 times stronger than carbon dioxide, trapping heat over a 20 year time frame. These next 20 years that will determine whether our struggle to overcome climate change will be won or lost.  That is why reducing methane is morally strategic.

For these reasons, 177,687 pro-life Christians from primarily CO, NM, OH, and PA, told the Obama Administration they wanted action on natural gas leaks.

As pro-life Christians, we want the air that we breathe to be safe for our children. Leaks in our natural gas infrastructure spew out toxic pollutants, cancer-causing agents and climate pollution that place God’s creation and our families – especially children, pregnant mothers, and the unborn – in harm’s way. That’s why we call on our elected officials to support strong regulations to cut this pollution from both new and existing leaks from our natural gas infrastructure. Our children deserve nothing less.

If we care for our children, now and in the future, let’s work together to reduce methane and other pollutants that foul our air, our water and most importantly our children’s lives. It’s the right thing to do.

One thing we promise: we will not stop until pollution from the natural gas infrastructure is no longer a threat.  Join us in making our world a safer and healthier place.  Let’s fix these natural gas leaks.

____

[1] Stacy SL, Brink LL, Larkin JC, Sadovsky Y, Goldstein BD, Pitt BR, et al. (2015) Perinatal Outcomes and Unconventional Natural Gas Operations in Southwest Pennsylvania. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0126425. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126425, downloaded September 28, 2015, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0126425

[2] Lisa M. McKenzie, Ruixin Guo, Roxana Z. Witter, David A. Savitz, Lee S. Newman, and John

  1. Adgate, Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas

Development in Rural Colorado, Environmental Health Perspectives doi:10.1289/ehp.1306722. downloaded September 28, 2015, http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1306722/#tab3