If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it.
--Lyndon B. Johnson

Greening America's Congregations: TXIPL Goes to the White House

Texas Interfaith Center and Texas Interfaith Power & Light staff joined faith leaders from across the nation for the “Greening America’s Congregations” event at the White House on September 13, 2012. The program was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR program and the White House’s Office for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and highlighted the work of the faith community on improving energy efficiency in houses of worship.

During the one-day program, senior administration officials called on faith-based organizations to do more to save energy and strengthen stewardship of the environment by improving the energy efficiency of their houses of worship with help from the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. In addition, religious leaders from different religious traditions shared best practices and success stories about how congregations across the country are already achieving significant carbon reductions by incorporating energy efficiency into their broader mission.

According to the EPA, if America’s houses of worship cut energy use by 20 percent, collectively they would save nearly $630 million, cut electricity use by more than 3.6 billion kilowatt hours, and prevent more than 2.6 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions from about 480,000 cars.

One useful online tool for tracking and managing congregational energy use is the EPA’s Portfolio Manager program. Click here to access slides from our August webinar about Portfolio Manager.

When your congregation enters information about its facility and its energy and water use, Portfolio Manager will enable you to measure efficiency improvements as you make them. When you click to share your congregation’s data with the Texas Interfaith Power & Light account (our account name is TexasIPL), you’ll help us track efficiency improvements state-wide! The more we’re able to document the efficiency improvements of the Texas faith community, the more effective we’ll all be in calling for a new way forward on energy use.

Bee, Josh, and Amanda were delighted to be invited to the White House, and we’re eager to work with more congregations in Texas to improve the energy efficiency—and environmental stewardship—of our houses of worship. If you have questions or ideas, or would like more info on how your congregation can be involved, please e-mail Amanda.

Mark Your Calendars! Upcoming Local, Interfaith Environmental Events in Fort Worth, Dallas, & Austin

Energized teams of local, interfaith, environmental leaders are getting together, building relationships, and taking action all over Texas! We have upcoming events in Houston and in San Antonio. We also have ongoing meetings and public events in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin. For information about those, read on!

Dallas

Dallas Interfaith Power & Light is meeting on Monday, September 24th for a viewing and round table discussion of a Nova documentary, Power Surge. They are also working together to craft a vision and mission statement.

The Dallas group will meet again on Monday, October 22nd, when Glen Suhran will present on "The Science Behind Global Warming."

Monday, September 24, 2012, 7:00pm
Dallas Baha'i Center
9400 Plano Rd.
Dallas, TX 75238
 
Monday, October 22, 2012, 7:00pm
1928 Ross Ave.
Dallas, TX 75201

Austin

Austin's Interfaith Environmental Network holds a regular symposium on the first Tuesday of most months. The next symposium will be Tuesday, October 2nd at 7:00pm at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in the McCord Community Center. This month's symposium, "Finding Our Place in Nature" will feature a panel discussion between Islam Mossaad (Lead Imam, North Austin Muslim Community Center) and Kosho McCall (Head Priest, Austin Zen Center), moderated by Tom Vandestadt (Head Pastor, Congregational Church of Austin).

These monthly forums are attended by anywhere from 20-60 people each month, and it's an active, engaged, and justice-seeking community that welcomes people of all faith traditions (and those who profess no faith!).

Fort Worth

Fort Worth Interfaith Power & Light is planning an interfaith panel presentation and conversation, "Water Matters," to be held at Brite Divinity School on Monday evening, October 15th. Stay tuned for more details!

If you have questions about any of these events or would like to get involved, great! Please contact Amanda.

(Photo "Texas Independence Day: 17th Anniversary" by User Ed Uthman used under a Creative Commons-Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

You're Invited! Houston Interfaith Power & Light Meeting - October 6, 2012

Join leaders of different religious traditions who share a concern about the environment on Saturday, October 6th at 5:00 p.m. to plan next steps for the emerging Houston Interfaith Power & Light group--Houston's local, interfaith, environmental network.

We last met on May 6th--with much enthusiasm, but summer break before us. Now that the summer is over, it's time to come back together to do some visioning, as well as some concrete planning. Light refreshments will be provided. Please join us and help spread the word!

When: Saturday October 6, 2012, 5:00-7:00 p.m.

Where: The garden of the Hare Krishna Temple. 1514 W 34th 1/2 Street, Houston, TX 77018.

            From 59, take 610 N exit. 
            Stay towards 610 E.
            Exit Ella Blvd and make left at light.
            Turn right onto W 34th St.
            Take 2ndst left onto Golf Dr.
            Turn left onto W 34th ½.
            The garden is .5 mile down on the right.

What to Bring: Yourself, a friend, your ideas/goals/hopes, your planning calendar, and (optional!) a vegetarian snack to share.

For questions or to RSVP, please e-mail Amanda: amanda@texasimpact.org.

Visit the facebook event page, and feel free to invite others who might be interested!

(Photo "Earth Hour 2010" by User Cornelia Kopp used under a Creative Commons-Attribution License.)

September Interfaith Environmental Conference Call: An Update on "Fracking" in Texas

Click here to listen to the archived recording of this call.

Click here to download additional resources about fracking, courtesy of the Environmental Defense Fund.

The practice of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," for oil and natural gas, is highly contentious in other parts of the country--but it's been going on in Texas for years. North and South Texas are both hot spots for drilling, and local communities have approached the practice in different ways. The state has weighed in, too--during the 2011 legislative session, Texas Impact helped pass legislation requiring companies to disclose the types of chemicals and amount of water used in the drilling process.

For our September interfaith environmental conference call, we'll take a look at "fracking." We are excited to welcome Virginia Palacios of the Environmental Defense Fund, who will give us an overview of hydraulic fracturing in Texas--where it's happening, environmental effects, updates on regulation, and a look ahead to possible related legislation during the 2013 session. 

As always, we will have some time for callers to ask questions, share ideas and connect!

September Interfaith Environmental Conference Call

     Wednesday, September 19, 2012, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

     Dial-in number: (712) 432-3066 

     Conference Code: 424548

To RSVP for the call, please e-mail Amanda. Feel free to invite others to participate!

Last summer, Virginia Palacios helped to launch the Safe Fracking Coalition in Laredo, Texas. The coalition held two town halls and gave presentations to raise awareness about potential environmental impacts of accelerating oil and gas development in the Eagle Ford Shale region. Now at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Virginia has examined the local water supply impacts of hydraulic fracturing in Texas. Her work at EDF also includes research on the regulation of natural gas venting and flaring.

Virginia earned her Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment in May of 2012. At Duke, Virginia founded the Drilling, Environment, and Economics Network (DEEN) to convene researchers with different perspectives about the costs and benefits of oil and gas development. In her master’s thesis, Palacios examined data detailing the chemistry of formation waters in the Eagle Ford Shale, and recommended which chemicals to test for in baseline groundwater quality testing for counties in the Eagle Ford Shale region.

In our monthly environmental calls, we seek to connect faith leaders around the state who are engaged in the work of caring for Creation; provide updates about environmental legislation and advocacy opportunities; keep you current on new programs and initiatives; and create a space for sharing hopes and frustrations, plans and ideas, stories and prayers.

Take the 2012 Cool Congregations Challenge!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It's time to enter the 2012 Cool Congregations Challenge, a national contest to recognize “Cool Congregations” that are becoming energy efficient and sustainable role models within their communities.

All qualifying entries will receive a beautiful certificate suitable for framing. In addition, cash prizes of $1,000 will go to winning contestants in each category:

  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation
  • Renewable Energy
  • Grounds and Water Conservation
  • Engaging Congregants and Communities

Projects of any size completed between October 21, 2011 and October 18, 2012 qualify, and there's no fee to enter. Entries are due by October 18, 2011. The contest is brought to you by Interfaith Power & Light (IPL), a nonprofit organization working to inspire and support a religious response to global warming.

When you enter the Challenge, be sure to tell the story of why your project is special and the impact that it has had on your faith community, the community-at-large (if applicable), and on climate change. An estimate of carbon reduced, or projected to be reduced by the project, is strongly encouraged. Please include details of any obstacles that your team successfully negotiated, and/or positive outcomes that are being enjoyed as result of the project. And don't forget to include a picture!

For more information and to enter the Challenge, please visit: http://interfaithpowerandlight.org/get-involved/be-a-cool-congregation/challenge2012/

Fort Worth Religious Leaders Testify at Cement Kiln Hearing, Call on EPA to Protect Our Health, Without Delay

Fort Worth Interfaith Power & Light Leaders Testify at Nation’s Only Public Hearing to Consider the Delay and Weakening of Toxic Air Pollution Emission Standards for Cement Kiln Plants

August 16, 2012

Fort Worth, TX – Members of Fort Worth Interfaith Power and Light (FWIPL) testify today in Arlington, TX at the Environmental Protection Agency public hearing on the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for cement manufacturing.

The new proposed EPA rules would weaken regulations on particulate matter, or soot, from cement kilns and would delay implementation of new emissions standards by two years. Particulate matter emissions cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, and strokes and may cause lung cancer. A two year delay of this standard endangers the lives of as many as 5,000 people.

“Our faith traditions demand not only charity, but also that we protect people from harm,” Fort Worth IPL member Melissa Ashmore, who attends Fort Worth First Congregational United Church of Christ said. “Fort Worth IPL calls on the EPA to safeguard the health of our community by implementing emission standards on toxic cement kiln pollution, without weakening them, and without delay.”

Reverend Paul John Roach, Senior Minister of Unity Church of Fort Worth, said, “One of the greatest challenges in our world is environmental degradation and global warming—and weakening these cement kiln standards would be a step in the wrong direction.” About Fort Worth IPL’s involvement at today’s hearing, Rev. Roach said, “Each of us is called to step up to the plate, to be engaged in life in ways that challenge and inspire us—and speaking out to protect our local community from more pollution is one way that we, as people of faith, can work together to make a difference.” 

_________________________________

Fort Worth Interfaith Power & Light is a local affiliate of Texas Interfaith Power & Light, which is a program of The Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Texas IPL seeks to engage faith communities in environmental stewardship through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. www.txipl.org

Interfaith Power & Light has 39 state affiliates and is mobilizing a religious response to global warming in more than 14,000 congregations. www.interfaithpowerandlight.org

_________________________________

For more information contact 
Rev. Paul John Roach: 817-480-0995 (mobile) or pauljohnroach@yahoo.com
John Barnes: 817-308-8304 (mobile) or jbarnes@ix.netcom.com

 

Creating a Local, Interfaith Environmental Network in San Antonio - TXIPL Presentation October 11, 2012

Texas is a big state! In order to provide an effective religious response to our shared environmental challenges, we need local teams on the ground in cities and regions across the state. Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL) supports the development of local, interfaith environmental networks—and is coming to San Antonio to start the conversation.

Amanda Yaira Robinson, Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL), will offer a presentation on Thursday, October 11th about creating a local, interfaith environmental network in San Antonio. Come be part of the conversation! Details are below.

Thursday, October 11, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
First Unitarian Universalist Church, Fellowship Hall
7150 W. Interstate 10
San Antonio, TX 78213**
 
**This address does not always map accurately with GPS devices. For mapping software, it's usually best to enter "Gill Rd & Beryl Dr, San Antonio, TX 78213"

Click here to get directions to the church, and here to see a campus map.

To RSVP or ask questions, e-mail Amanda.

_____________________

Want to invite friends and colleagues? Great!

Here's some language you can use for an e-mail:

Dear friend,

I am writing to invite you to participate in a conversation about how the faith community can work together to create a local, interfaith environmental network in San Antonio. Amanda Yaira Robinson, Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power & Light (TXIPL), will offer a presentation on Thursday, October 11th about local networks--and facilitate a discussion about how San Antonio can faithfully organize around the environmental challenges we face.

Please join us, and invite others from your religious community!

Thursday, October 11, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
First Unitarian Universalist Church, Fellowship Hall
7150 W. Interstate 10
San Antonio, TX 78213

For more information, visit the TXIPL story about this opportunity: http://txipl.org/content/creating-local-interfaith-environmental-network-san-antonio-txipl-presentation-october-11-20

If you have questions, would like more information, or if you’re ready to RSVP, please e-mail Amanda: amanda@texasimpact.org. Thank you,

Your name here

(Photo "Earth Hour 2010" by User Cornelia Kopp used under a Creative Commons-Attribution License.)

TXIPL Webinar: ENERGY STAR and Portfolio Manager for Congregations

Click here to download the slide presentation.

Join us on Wednesday, August 29th from noon-1pm central time for a special webinar to learn how houses of worship can use the free, online Portfolio Manager tool to measure and track energy use. Register for this free webinar here.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has tools and resources that can help your congregation take serious steps toward reducing its carbon footprint. According to the EPA's ENERGY STAR for Congregations program, most congregations can cut energy costs by up to 30% by investing strategically in efficient equipment, facility upgrades and maintenance.

On August 29th, we will learn more about the ENERGY STAR for Congregations program and how Texas congregations can access its tools and resources.

As always, we will have some time for callers to ask questions, share ideas and connect!

August Interfaith Environmental Webinar

     Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

     Click here to register.

Questions? Please e-mail Amanda. Feel free to invite others to participate!

In our monthly environmental calls, we seek to connect faith leaders around the state who are engaged in the work of caring for Creation; provide updates about environmental legislation and advocacy opportunities; keep you current on new programs and initiatives; and create a space for sharing hopes and frustrations, plans and ideas, stories and prayers.

TXIPL in Fort Worth August 13th: Preparing for the EPA Hearing on Cement Kiln Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Friday, August 3rd that it will hold one public hearing to collect input on its proposed two-year delay of implenting new cement kiln emissions rules. That hearing will be in Arlington, Texas, on Thursday, August 16, 2012. Details and links to more information about the proposed regulations and the public hearing are below.

On Monday, August 13th, Fort Worth Interfaith Power & Light will devote part of its regular meeting to preparing people of faith to speak at the hearing. Bee Moorhead, Executive Director of Texas Impact and Amanda Yaira Robinson, Coordinator of Texas Interfaith Power & Light, will offer messaging training for people of faith, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

All are welcome to attend--and please bring a vegetarian dish to share for our regular potluck.

Monday, August 13th, 2012, 6:30 p.m.
First Congregational Church
4201 Trail Lake Dr
Fort Worth TX 76109
 
About the Public Hearing
The EPA's public hearing will be held at the Arlington Municipal Building in the City Council Chambers located at 101 W. Abram Street, Arlington, Texas 76010.
 
The hearing will convene at 9:00 a.m. and will continue until 7:00 p.m. A lunch break is scheduled from 12:00 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. The EPA’s Web site for the rulemaking, which includes the proposal and information about the hearing, can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/pcem/pcempg.html.
 
Sign Up to Speak at the Hearing
To present oral testimony at the public hearing, please contact Pamela Garrett by email: garrett.pamela@epa.gov. The last day to sign up in advance will be Tuesday, August 14, 2012.
 
In your email, please provide the following information: The time you wish to speak (morning or afternoon), name, affiliation, address, email address and telephone and fax numbers. Time slot preferences will be given in the order requests are received. Additionally, requests to speak will be taken the day of the hearing at the hearing registration desk, although preferences on speaking times may not be able to be fulfilled.
 

The Keystone XL Pipeline: An Update

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is back in the news. The U.S. State Department is indicating that it will not include climate change among the top impacts of this dangerous project that would destroy Canada’s boreal forests while unlocking some of the most polluting oil on Earth.

Ten leading climate scientists wrote Secretary Clinton recently, noting how "the vast volumes of carbon in the tar sands ensure that they will play an important role in whether or not climate change gets out of hand." If objective scientists are alarmed enough to speak up, then we, as people of faith, must act. The science is clear: This project poses an unacceptable risk to God’s creation.

The Interfaith Power & Light movement has steadfastly opposed the Keystone XL pipeline on moral grounds because of its extraordinary threat to our climate, as well as North America's food and water supply. To learn more, read on.

____________________________

“Tar Sands Pipeline” Keystone XL Update

Last fall, Texans of faith came together to speak out in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline when the State Department held a public hearing in Austin. Then in January, we thanked President Obama for opposing a fast-tracked permit for the project.

Since then, TransCanada has resubmitted a bid for the permit it needs to build across the U.S.-Canadian border, but the Obama administration has put off its decision until after the November 2012 election. Meanwhile, in March 2012, the President voiced support for expediting construction of the Keystone leg extending from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas, calling it a “national priority.”

"For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity." -- Ecclesiastes 3:19       

A Tragedy in the Making

The Keystone XL would be used for transporting bitumen, or “tar sands oil,” from Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, Texas. While standard crude is pumped from deep reservoirs in the earth, tar sands oil is found mixed throughout sandy soil just beneath the Boreal forest floor. The most common method of extraction requires clearcutting and strip-mining the land, leaving behind a desolate wasteland covered with toxic pools. This has damaging effects on communities in the area, many of which are First Nation peoples, and on untold numbers of plant and animal species native to the region. Learn more in a 2009 National Georgraphic article on "The Canadian Oil Boom."

A Crossroads of Conscience

As people of faith, we understand that caring for other people and safeguarding God’s creation are important parts of living a just and righteous life. The mining of this kind of oil in Canada’s pristine boreal forests is incredibly destructive for habitat, wildlife and human life—and it significantly increases greenhouse gas emissions at a critical time in our effort to combat global warming.

“Tzedek, tzedek, tirdof! – “Justice, justice, you shall pursue!” –Deut. 16:20

Texans’ Water Source Endangered

Keystone would cross the vital Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which is estimated to provide drinking water for over 12 million homes across 60 Texas counties. A tar sands oil spill in this fragile aquifer would be disastrous. We must ensure access to a safe, reliable water source as part of creating and sustaining healthy communities—and this pipeline puts our water and health at unnecessary risk.

Statements Against the Keystone XL

Interfaith Power and Light Statements on Tar Sands

Austin's Interfaith Environmental Network Statement on Keystone

Top Climate Scientists to State Department: Keystone XL Review Should Consider Climate Effects

Take Action

Write a letter to the editor of your local paper or host an educational forum at your congregation. Please contact us for more ways to take action, and stay tuned here for updates.

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