For over 15 years, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light has engaged communities of faith across the state of Georgia in the stewardship of Creation as a direct expression of what it means to be faithful. We have partnered with hundreds of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, religious schools, and religious non-profits in pursuit of faithful environmental action, to take care of this glorious creation that God has entrusted us with.
A large part of our work for several years has been to ensure that Georgia’s coal ash is disposed of in a just and safe way. Today I urge you: do not approve of Georgia’s program and plans for coal ash storage and disposal as they stand now.
Currently, the [EPA’s] plan is to leave roughly 50 million tons of coal ash in unlined pits scattered across the state, allowing the heavy metals and toxic materials to remain dangerously close to Georgia’s rivers, lakes, and streams. In several locations, this coal ash is currently sitting in the groundwater, surely leeching these toxins every moment we delay.
Furthermore, this proposed plan offers incredibly limited mechanisms for communities to raise their voices and concerns to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Just as it was important for you to hold this public hearing, to allow voices from the community to plead with you, so too it is important to honor the residents of the communities in which this coal ash is going to be stored, by allowing them to raise their own concerns at a similar such hearing that should be held in their own community.
It is imperative that coal ash is stored in dry, lined facilities in order to protect our waterways for the sake of recreation, access to safe drinking water, and other such activities. However, much more than this is at stake. My training is as a minister, and my job is to work with faith communities around this state in order to protect Creation. In my Christian tradition, caring for Creation is fundamental to what it means to love God, and to love neighbor. We must protect our water because it is a holy work to do so. We must protect the health of our neighbors because it is a holy work to do so. We must elevate the voices of our communities and our neighbors because it is a holy work to do so.
To allow coal ash to continue to damage our environment and Georgia’s communities by leaving it leaking in unlined pits is a betrayal of our charge to care for God’s creation and to live a life of faithfulness, regardless of our tradition. To scar creation, is to scar the face of God. To put our neighbors in the path of potential harm, when we could now do something about it, is to forget our calling, and from a Christian perspective, to abandon our first commandment to care for this place. This proposed coal ash program condones the desecration of the glory of God as revealed in Creation.
There are, as I said, hundreds of congregations that we [GIPL] have worked with, many of whom share the perspective about coal ash that I have raised here. Thousands more sit in communities throughout the state. All of them deserve the opportunity to raise their voice in an effort to protect their communities, their families, and Creation. Not only does Georgia’s coal ash program currently stand to do further harm to our environment and our neighbors, it stands to rob communities of their voices, and of their opportunity to speak their convictions, whatever they may be. I ask you to honor the convictions of all the people in the communities in which this coal ash is going to be stored, by giving them an opportunity to speak. I ask you to honor God and the convictions of many faith communities across this state by protecting Georgia’s piece of Creation.
Do not approve of Georgia’s coal ash program unless the following changes are made:
- The Georgia Environmental Protection Division must hold a public hearing on every single coal ash permit application before the decision is made, and that public hearing must be held in the community where the coal ash is located.
- EPD must provide public notice and an opportunity to comment on every single 5-year review of issued coal ash permits.
- EPD must require Georgia Power to dig up all of its coal ash and store it in lined dry facilities away from waterways.
Please do this to protect Georgia’s water, to safeguard against harming our neighbors, and to protect Creation.
Codi Norred, Program Director
Georgia Interfaith Power and Light
We encourage you to submit your own comments to the EPA. The comment period closes Tuesday, August 27. Comments can be submitted here.
GIPL held our second annual Green Team Summit on Sunday, January 27, 2019. We are grateful to The Temple for hosting us again this year! To celebrate the end of our 15th Anniversary year, John Anderson Lanier, Executive Director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation offered a keynote address during dinner. Continue reading
Washington, DC (January 16, 2019) – The Climate Reality Project announced today that former Vice President Al Gore, Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, and Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, and other faith leaders, will lead A Moral Call to Action on the Climate Crisis, an interfaith mass meeting on March 14. The meeting will take place at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia at 7pm, and is open to the public. Georgia Interfaith Power & Light (GIPL) is a proud partner and organizer for this interfaith dialogue. Continue reading
After researching and writing 20+ blogs over two years on climate change and the faith community, several themes and actions have organically emerged. They will be summarized below to pull together the threads identified through the Sightings blog series. These suggestions hopefully will help the faith community understand the current state of creation and steps they can take to prepare and adapt to changing ecological conditions occurring across the planet now and in the coming decades. This period is commonly referred to as the Anthropocene epoch, the age of the humans. Continue reading
Let’s start out with a basic fact. Global temperatures are 1-degree C over pre-industrial levels. With that increase we are seeing:
- Melting of the Arctic and Antarctic,
- Accelerating sea level rise,
- Ocean acidification,
- Global ecosystem disruption,
- Spread of vectors and diseases,
- Extreme storm intensification,
- Increased drought and flooding
- Expansion of wildfires
On August 1, 2018, Nathaniel Rich had an article titled “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change” in The New York Times Magazine. Editor Jake Silverstein writes: “This narrative by Nathaniel Rich is a work of history, addressing the 10-year period from 1979 to 1989: the decisive decade when humankind first came to a broad understanding of the causes and dangers of climate change. Complementing the text is a series of aerial photographs and videos, all shot over the past year by George Steinmetz. With support from the Pulitzer Center, this two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it.”
by Rich Gittens, Green Team Lead for GIPL African American Clergy Engagement Pilot
The short, easy answer is … Valerie Hill-Rawls, who has the very long title of, “GIPL African American Creation Care Environmental Justice Pilot Community Engagement Project Manager.” Some months ago Valerie made a presentation at my church, Emmanuel Lutheran, and talked quite passionately about a phrase that I’d not heard used before that day. That phrase was, “environmental justice.” Now, I like to consider myself a fairly articulate guy. I understand “environmental” and I understand “justice” … but I’d not heard them used together. And while the implication seemed pretty clear, I wasn’t sure. So I raised my hand and I asked. From then on I was hooked. Continue reading
What is ecotheology? It is a form of theology that focuses on the relationship between religion and nature with a particular emphasis on the ecological destruction underway. It started as a religious response to the degradation of nature but is also concerned with potential solutions including ecosystem management and environmental justice. Continue reading
For Immediate Release – June 22, 2018
A proposal to fully divest the denomination’s foundation and pension accounts from all fossil fuel companies failed in the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly Friday. Fossil Free PCUSA, a project of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF), led the advocacy effort on behalf of divestment, and their work included a two-week, 212 mile walk from Louisville, KY to St. Louis, Missouri. Forty presbyteries signed onto the overture in advance of the assembly, the greatest number of presbyteries to ever concur on an overture. After four hours of discussion, the assembly voted 332 to 178 against divestment. Continue reading
Buying a lot of something all at once is usually cheaper than buying the same thing in smaller amounts over time — a concept known as “economy of scale.”
Now, some solar advocates in Atlanta are bringing the principle to a rooftop near you, and, in the process, bringing down the cost of installing a residential solar system. Continue reading