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Eco-Justice Resolutions
from the Episcopal Church

Advocate for Public Policy to Reduce Climate Changing Emissions

Proposed Resolution 2012-D055 for the 77th General Convention of
the Episcopal Church, USA, July 2012
Final Version here

Proposed Resolution 2012-D055: Advocate for Public Policy to Reduce Climate Changing Emissions

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church urges the U.S. Government to legislate a policy, such as a tax on carbon-based fuels (coal, petroleum oil, and natural gas) or a cap and trade regulations system, in order to compensate for the environmental and societal costs of fossil fuels. Legislation is needed to incentivize our nation's transition from dependence upon fossil fuels to safe, clean, renewable energy and thereby curb emissions of heat-trapping gasses into the atmosphere.


To be proposed from the floor by Ellen Bruckner

Explanation:

Climate change is real and primarily caused by burning fossil fuels. (See statement issued by national science academies at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations held in Copenhagen in December 2009.) When fossil fuels are burned, carbon dioxide and other gases are released into the atmosphere where they trap the sun's heat and set in motion changes resulting in far-reaching damage to the ecosystems upon which all life depends.

Other costs of fossil fuels include oil spills, contamination of ground water with mercury and other pollutants from coal mining, and accumulation of improperly stored radioactive waste as a result of hydrofracking. There are many concomitant health care costs from our exposure to these pollutants. Financial costs, and countless emotional costs, are incurred by the epidemics of cancer, asthma, and autism, all of which can be triggered by toxins in the environment.

The continued use of fossil fuels is not sustainable, as their use entails dangers that threaten the lives and health of every human being on the planet. We are all at risk of severe weather, droughts, forest fires, and crop failure, but especially vulnerable are the poor, the hungry, and the unborn generations. Reducing our use of fossil fuels is mandatory if we hope to lessen the damages, disruptions, and extinctions we are starting to see.

Legislation could discourage the use of fossil fuels and allow alternatives such as renewable energy a chance to become better established. Currently, our economy is based upon ready access to low-cost fuels. Consumers and businesses have no incentive to shift to solar, wind, and other safe alternatives when fossil fuels are available, cheap, and convenient. But the low market prices of fossil fuels do not reflect their true costs to society. By levying a corrective tax on fossil fuels, their prices will become more reflective of their actual costs to society. A bill currently in the House Ways and Means committee, the Save Our Climate Act (H.R. 3242, introduced by Rep. Pete Stark, D-CA), proposes to tax fossil fuels and distribute 80 percent of the collected revenue to the public on an equal, per-household basis, while using 20 percent for debt reduction. Households will be able to use their dividend checks as they see fit (to pay the higher prices the tax will bring about or to invest in clean, renewable energy) and the rate of our hemorrhaging national debt will start to decline.

As responsible people who desire to be faithful stewards of God's creation, we advocate for such legislation. As a Church, we can provide the spiritual and moral will and inform the cultural transformation that a change in our energy consumption requires. We can embrace conservationism and counteract the greed and apathy that have led to our current crisis.

This resolution is in accord with the pastoral teaching on the environment issued in September 2011 by the House of Bishops. In this powerful, urgent call to action, the Bishops committed themselves and urged every Episcopalian

"to take steps in our individual lives, and in community, public policy, business, and other forms of corporate decision-making, to practice environmental stewardship and justice, including a commitment to energy conservation and the use of clean, renewable sources of energy."

Supporting emissions reduction legislation responds faithfully to the Bishops' call and claims our stewardship of a sustainable future.

"You shall observe my statutes and faithfully keep my ordinances, so that you may live on the land securely. …you shall provide for the redemption of the land." Leviticus 25:18-24

Talking Points for this resolution
Final Version here
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The EpEN is a national network of active lay and clergy persons within the Episcopal Church, USA, who share a common concern for the environment and a common belief in the presence of God in all Creation and who work to make these concerns and beliefs known throughout all Provinces and Dioceses within the church. Members come from around the Episcopal Church USA. The activities of the EpEN are focused on the areas of Reflection, Education, and Action. 

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last update: 2013-03-01

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