Relevant News About Our Actions Against Climate Change
The Vermont Legislative Season Winds Down - With New Federal Funding, We Must Act on Climate
May 2021 Update
(by VTIPL Board member Richard Butz)
This has been a session of great promise and some progress, made more difficult by the uncertainties of the American Recovery Plan (ARPA), that has sent $1 Billion to Vermont. Governor Scott’s plan allocates most of the money on large one-time projects such as Economic Development,
Climate Change, Water/Sewer Infrastructure, Housing, and Broadband/Telecom. The legislature’s Budget Bill, now in reconciliation, takes a different approach, but with many of the same priorities, and it will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. It is difficult to allocate funds when the feds haven’t solidified all the regulations yet. And the possibility that more may be coming in the fall if the federal infrastructure bill passes, makes it even more difficult determine how to spent the funds already in hand. (For more see VT Legislature)
- The Climate Council committees are up and running, preparing to submit the Climate Action Plan to the legislature by December 1. There is some concern that citizen input, particularly from those most affected by the plan, may not have enough opportunity for meaningful input as the committees work through the summer and fall. Stay tuned on this.
- (S.20) would protect public health by banning toxic PFAS chemicals from certain consumer products including food packaging, firefighting foam, ski wax, and rugs/carpets. This bill will be sent to the Governor for signature.
- (H.175) would bring Vermont’s bottle redemption system up to date by expanding it to include more beverage containers such as water bottles, hard cider, wine, and sports drinks. This bill passed the house by a 99-46 majority, against significant opposition from beverage industry groups and will move to the Senate in 2022.
- The Transportation Modernization Package was incorporated into the Transportation Bill, H.433. This bill will provide assistance for low and middle income Vermonter to purchase high mpg and EV vehicles, expand “Complete Streets” to make roads safer for non-drivers, and continue zero-fare public transit through 2022, and much more. Passed in both houses it is now in conference committees before being went to the governor’s desk.
National IPL Legislative Priorities
The following is taken from the May IPL Climate Advocate Captains Newsletter:
“Email your members of Congress and urge them to support a just and equitable infrastructure plan that cuts carbon pollution!
As Congress turns to rebuilding our economy, we urge you to support policies that will safeguard Creation, address the impacts of climate change on our most vulnerable siblings, and fulfill our moral obligation to leave a habitable world for future generations. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities, as well as low-income communities, have been hit the hardest by the triple health, economic, and environmental crises we face. The needs of these communities must be at the center of any infrastructure plan.
Furthermore, the devastating winter storms of February and the massive wildfires of 2020 demonstrate the urgent need to upgrade our infrastructure, including our electrical grid, power supply, and water infrastructure to withstand extreme weather events that are becoming the new normal.” (For more see National IPL Priorities)
Of Particular Note:
- Modernize the grid, update water infrastructure, and expand clean, renewable energy sources
Sustainable infrastructure increases preparedness and builds community-level resilience to disasters, which benefits us all. We need to modernize our electrical grid, increasing its climate resiliency and ensuring it is prepared for an expansion of distributed renewable energy.
Too many communities, especially in low-income urban neighborhoods and in Indigenous communities, don’t have access to clean water. We must invest in lead pipe remediation, as well as programs like the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
- The RECLAIM Act (Revitalizing the Economy of Coal Communities by Leveraging Local Activities and Investing More Act - HR 2156 / SB 1232 in the 116th Congress)
○ The RECLAIM Act will distribute $1 billion from the existing federal Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Fund to states and tribes across the country. The AML funds are already collected and ready to use to clean up abandoned coal mines and the lands and waters polluted by them. AML restoration will also promote economic diversification, targeting our neighbors in the most economically distressed coal communities across the nation.
○ States and tribes can use the money to develop strategic mine reclamation projects that are linked to development projects on the reclaimed sites. The
RECLAIM Act will assist communities struggling with job loss by diversifying their economies and creating jobs doing mine reclamation across the country.
- THRIVE Act
○ This proposal, soon to be introduced as binding legislation, would invest $10
trillion over the next decade to facilitate a top-to-bottom clean energy economy.
○ It would also ensure that half of that investment goes to the communities hurt the most by our current dirty fossil fuel economy.
○ It would establish a national renewable energy standard, setting into law President Biden’s campaign promise of 100% clean electricity by 2035.
- Electrify transportation
○ Incentivize electric vehicles—from light-duty passenger vehicles, to
medium-and-heavy-duty vehicles such as school buses, to commercial truck fleets and more. We must enact policies that lower barriers to buying clean vehicles, build charging infrastructure, and ensure they are affordable to all.
○ Invest in battery technology and manufacturing.
○ Invest in mass transit infrastructure and electrification. Nearly 3 million essential
workers depend on safe, reliable public transportation—by extension, we all do. If our transit systems don’t make it through this crisis, it will be a disaster for both our communities and our climate. Congress should provide emergency funding to keep systems running during the crisis as well as longer-term investment aimed at expansion and electrification of existing services.
Green Mountains Blue Waters
Image courtesy of Donna C. Roberts
VTIPL Wishes You Happy Earth Day - Requests Timely Senate Action
On Earth Day, we ask you to act on behalf of Creation.
Today, we appreciate the natural world around us and recognize how much we have to be thankful for every day. On Earth Day, our IPL community remembers our interconnection with Earth and all of its inhabitants understanding that climate justice is intertwined with racial justice, health justice, and economic justice. We cannot deny that all is not as it should be. We're still in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed the lives of many loved ones; racial and environmental justice still feel elusive even with this week’s verdict in the Chauvin murder trial; and carbon emissions continue rising.
There is also good news. Today, during his virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, President Biden committed to cut U.S. emissions by 50-52% by 2030!
We need this kind of bold action. And we are asking you to act today.
VTIPL Advocates for an Equitable Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI)
VTIPL has joined a group of 200 organizations in support of an equitable Transportation Climate Initiative in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region signing on to a Memorandum of Understanding to governors and mayors.
The letter begins as follows:
“We, the 200 undersigned transportation, health, environment, business, labor, and community groups and regional and state coalitions, write to express our collective position on the proposed regional Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) program that Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and D.C. have been developing since 2017, and for which a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing to the program is expected later this year.
We support an ambitious and equitable TCI program that includes strong safeguards and guarantees for overburdened and underserved communities as an important part of our shared efforts to combat the climate crisis, protect public health, and address inequities in the transportation sector. We urge TCI jurisdictions to move forward with such a program, consistent with the principles and criteria we outline below, while continuing to work.”
What is the TCI? The TCI is a proposed regional collaboration of 12 states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy, and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. Participating states are negotiating details of the collaboration. In Vermont, transportation generates 44.5% of Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions, so participation in TCI could have a significant effect on our carbon footprint.
State Appoints Climate Council linked to Global Warming Solutions Act
VERMONT PASSES THE GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT
Vermont Interfaith Power and Light joins other members of our coalition in expressing thankfulness to members of both houses of the State Legislature for their action in passing this historic act and in joining together to override the Governor's veto. This act will ensure that Vermont continues to be at the forefront of efforts to combat climate change and address the crisis that human behavior has created. VTIPL pledges to continue its efforts to educate, advocate, encourage and support the people of our state and our nation in working toward a healthier environment for the future of our planet.
A Message from Johanna Miller, Energy and Climate Program Director/VECAN Coordinator
Vermont Natural Resources Council
First, a sincere THANK YOU to each of you, the organizations, people and constituencies you represent and all of those you helped rally to help cement this outcome. This was a collective victory — and true Coalition effort — and I’m grateful for and feel very privileged to work with such good people. I hope everyone can take some time to breathe, celebrate and recognize the importance of this moment.
That said, and I hope you do take some time! we also know there is no time to waste. To that end, I wanted to follow up on a few things to set in motion next steps.
First, if you haven’t already, please, personally, or if you can, organizationally, send thank you’s to the legislators who brought this victory home and overrode Gov. Scott’s shortsighted veto. Here’s how House members voted (103-47). Here’s how Senate members voted (22-8). And, if you are able, a special thanks to Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tem Tim Ashe along with any House/Senate members who voted to, finally, make climate progress, would be great.
Second, it’s time to reconvene the Coalition; unpack the news of what the GWSA means for our work and begin to explore ways we might collaborate again on shared priorities, help stand up and ensure the success of the Solutions Act and more...
Third, the Energy Action Network Summit is coming up on October 1st and several of our Coalition partners have been leading on (RAD, VTCHA among them) or participating in some of the “pitches” that will be put forward as ideas to transform our energy system — swiftly, strategically and equitably. If you are able, I encourage you/others on your team to attend. This will be a great way to get an overview of some big policy ideas and potential approaches Vermont might embrace for needed climate action/Solutions Act implementation. Some of these big ideas (which you can see here, on their registration page) might be priorities we’d want to explore as part of a potential collective climate action platform for 2021...
Thanks again for all you do! Please do share further thoughts, ideas etc on any of the above — or beyond — as we continue our collaborative efforts to make long overdue climate progress in Vermont.
Pope Franis will address the United Nations General Assembly online in mid-September and will convene an online assembly on the Global Compact on Education on October 15.
|Dear Forum colleagues,
We are delighted to share a special message by Pope Francis.
Since the publication of Laudato Si’ five years ago, September 1st has been celebrated by Christians as World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the beginning of the Season of Creation (September 1 - October 4), whose theme this year is “Jubilee for the Earth: New Rhythms, New Hope.”
On this day, Pope Francis reflected on the Biblical significance of Jubilee in light of restorative justice. We encourage you to read his message here.
As the Pope writes in his message, “In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles. The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living. Already we can see how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. The pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities that are life-giving. We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation, and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.”
Please also see these two related news articles:
“Pope: peace with Creator, harmony with creation”
“‘Creation Is Groaning!’: Pope Francis Denounces Endless Growth, Humanity’s Assault on Nature”
Climate Change, Our Faith Values, and 2020:
A Conversation Between Dr. Katharine Hayhoe and Rev. Susan Hendershot
September 14th at 3pm ET
Hotter temperatures, rising seas, and extreme weather events are a few of the climate impacts we can expect to worsen in years to come. At its core, climate change is profoundly unjust. It exacerbates hunger, poverty, and even political instability, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable people of the world, the very ones we Christians are called to love and care for.
Climate scientist and evangelical, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, will join Rev. Susan Hendershot to discuss the latest outlook on climate change, and how to communicate the climate message effectively, from a position of shared values.
Hayhoe is a climate scientist at Texas Tech, where she co-directs the Climate Center. She is also an evangelical Christian and the wife of a pastor in Lubbock. She has been named to a number of lists including Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Thinkers, FORTUNE magazine’s World’s Greatest Leaders, and Christianity Today as one of their 50 Women to Watch.
Join the webinar and learn effective ways to talk to your faithful friends and colleagues about the importance of caring for Creation and voting our values.
Register here: https://bit.ly/Sept14Hayhoe
Hosted by Interfaith Power & Light, Catholic Climate Covenant, and Young Evangelicals for Climate Action
Update from Montpelier
(by VTIPL Board member Richard Butz)
- Achieving Justice with the Global Warming Solutions Act
VT Sierra Club held a conversation on July 15 featuring Steve Crowley, VT Sierra Club, Lauren Oates, the Nature Conservancy, and Jenny Rushow, VT Law School.
- keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius;
- reduce our carbon footprint 26% below 1990 level by 2025;
- reduce our carbon footprint 40% below 2005 level by 2030; and
- reduce it by 80% below 2005 level by 2050.
A Climate Council, comprised of 22 members, some appointed by the governor and some by the legislature, will develop rules to accomplish goals.
Citizens can bring action against the State if goals & timetables aren't met.
The House bill specified a $1M budget over two years for staff. The Senate Finance Committee removed funding until the final budget is decided in Aug./Sept. as was the case with other bills. Lauren stated that VT is coming late to the game. We are the highest carbon dioxide emitter per capita in New England with our numbers increasing. The major culprit is transportation, as we use much imported hydro for electricity. Jenny said that while Vermont is late, the bill is informed by previous climate bills in CA and MA, and is a major improvement over those bills in its enforcement clause. The general consensus is that the bill is a good step forward. Though the audience expressed concern that it’s not fast enough given the severity of the impending climate.
- Pandemic Impact
A legislator has commented that the state could be facing a 22% budget cut due to lost revenue, seriously impacting everything.
- What Can We Do?
Plan to contact you legislators and Governor Scott toward the end of August to let them know you want the Global Climate Solutions Act passed this Fall.
- A Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Environmental and Social Justice was held on June 17 co-sponsored by Vermont Sierra Club, 350VT, and Vermont Conservation Voters. In case you missed it, view it here.
While Vermont Interfaith Power and Light does not endorse political parties or specific candidates, we do encourage people of faith to be aware, study the issues and evaluate the candidates seeking their vote on the basis of their positions, particularly considering the impact of politicians' actions on Earth and its Climate.
This film from Vermont filmmaker Anne Macksoud is an invitation to do that.
AS IF LIFE ON EARTH DEPENDED UPON IT
BECAUSE IT DOES!
You will see why this is true when you watch
ROLLBACKS, AN ASSAULT AGAINST LIFE ON EARTH
A powerful 30-minute film which is being offered free of charge.
Watch it - Post it - Send it to Friends and Family...
We think it has the potential to change voters' minds.
Here's the link: www.olddogdocumentaries.org
"This is a powerful film"
Congregational Watershed Manual Presentations
When life returns to a new normal, we will resume these programs.
When gatherings are again allowed, VTIPL will visit any interested congregation (at no charge) to give a presentation of our Congregational Watershed Manual - either the Christian edition or the Inter religious edition. You can view the manuals at VTIPL's website homepage. The pdfs are attachments near the bottom of the page. Please be in touch if your congregation is interested. Contact VTIPL to make arrangements.
A Renewed Opportunity to View
The Human Element
Interfaith Power & Light is excited to kick off our summer film series with a return of a free online screening of The Human Element, followed by a webinar with renowned filmmaker James Balog.
Over 7,000 people viewed The Human Element during Faith Climate Action Week earlier this year, and to meet the continued requests from the IPL community, the filmmaker has generously offered the film again.
“What an incredible film. It is beautiful and hopeful and eloquent. We protect what we love - what a great way to inspire us to make change to protect our Earth's air, fire, water and land.”
Patty McGrath, Potomac, Maryland
View the film at your leisure between June 8 and June 17. Then join IPL for a 45-minute webinar with filmmaker James Balog on June 17, 8pm Eastern/7pm Central/6pm Mountain/5pm Pacific.
In this riveting and visually rich drama, blending art and science, we follow environmental photographer James Balog of Chasing Ice fame as he explores the impact of wildfires, hurricanes, sea level rise, a struggling coal mining community, and our changing air. With rare compassion and heart, The Human Element highlights Americans who are on the front lines of climate change, inspiring us to re-evaluate our relationship with the natural world.
Download a free screening guide at the same link with faith-based discussion questions, promotional images, sample newsletter article, and more.
Watch for information about the rest of the powerful films in Interfaith Power & Light’s summer series in upcoming newsletters.
If you enjoyed this film earlier and wished you could have shared it with others - this is your chance! Consider hosting an online discussion with members of your congregation after viewing the film, and bring your questions to the webinar.
Join me as I moderate this conversation with James Balog about his inspiring film.
Rev. Susan Hendershot
May 16-23 is “Laudato Si Week”
This week celebrates the 5th anniversary of the release of the Papal Encyclical, Laudato Si'. Several activities and readings provide an opportunity to explore the key ideas of integral ecology where “The Cry of the Earth, the Cry of the Poor” are seen as unified.
Here is a video in which Pope Francis invites us to celebrate Laudato Si week. (Shared by the Global Catholic Climate Movement.)
A Reflection on Thomas Berry & Pope Francis
VTIPL Board member, Pastor Nancy Wright, presented a paper entitled "Knowing Who and Where We Are Among the White Lilies: The Vision of Thomas Berry and Pope Francis" at a conference at Georgetown University. We are sharing a downloadable pdf of that paper, along with a link to a video of the event where Pastor Nancy read her paper.
Recently Completed Events
VTIPL’s Black History Month Event a Success!
VTIPL Film & discussion
Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil narrated by Alice Walker
Nearly 60 friends gathered for our virtual event on February 23 to view and discuss the film Yemanja: Wisdom from the African Heart of Brazil. Narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, the film explores the Afro-indigenous spiritual tradition of Candomblé in Bahia, Brazil, often called the religion of nature. Unique in traditional African religions, many of the most revered Candomblé communities are led by elder Afro-Brazilian women. The film’s director, VTIPL Coordinator Donna Roberts, introduced the film offering some background on the project’s long evolution commencing during her first trip to Brazil in 1997 (for the Rio+5 Forum on Sustainability.)
Additional resources related to Candomblé:
- Dr. Boaz’s website: https://www.religiousracism.org/brazil
- International Commission to Combat Religious Racism Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/africanareligiousfreedom
- A Refuge in Thunder: Candomblé & Alternative Spaces of Blackness, by Rachel E. Harding. 2000. Indiana University Press.
- Women and Religion in the African Diaspora: Knowledge, Power, and Performance. Eds. R. Marie Griffith & Barbara Dianne Savage. 2006. The Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Sacred Leaves of Candomblé: African Magic, Medicine, and Religion in Brazil,Robert A. Voeks. 1997. University of Texas Press.
- An open access article Dr, Boaz recently published about the evangelized drug traffickers in Rio attacking Afro-brazilian religious communities. https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/11/12/640?type=check_update&version=2
Faith Climate Action Day a Big Success!
(Review by VTIPL Board Member and Faith Climate Action Day organizer Richard Butz)
On February 20, 2020, more than 50 members of Vermont Interfaith Power & Light, and Vermont Interfaith Action (VIA) spiritual communities gathered at the State House in Montpelier to meet with our lawmakers to urge them to support the Global Warming Solutions Act.
The day was an amazing experience beginning with policy briefings and tips on talking to our legislators led by Sen. Chris Pearson and Vermont Conservation Voters’ Lauren Hierl. That was followed by a press conference, then group and one-on-one meetings with legislators including Chris Bray, Chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, and Senate President pro tempore Tim Ashe.
A highlight of the day was the press conference in the historic Cedar Creek Room where The Right Rev. Thomas Ely, Rev. Jane Dwinell, Rev. Daniel Cooperrider, Harris Webster (representing VIA), Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, and UVM student Morgan Dreibelbis spoke from the perspectives of their traditions and their hearts. Morgan’s comments, a member of the generation that will inherit the climate we’re leaving behind, are now posted on our website. Other speakers’ remarks will also be posted there soon.
The icing on the cake was the vote on the bill - the Global Warming Solutions Act. Expected to garner around 95 votes, the bill passed with the veto-proof majority of 105 - 37 and a voice vote on the second reading the next day. What a victory that we can share! We filled the capitol with our energy and it was noticed.
This is just the beginning. The bill must pass the Senate and then on to the governor. There are three more bills to follow if we put the entire suite
together, so expect more emails and calls to action as we work together to stand up for God’s Creation. Together, we can do this! Special thanks to our co-sponsors VPIRG and Vermont Interfaith Action, as well as retired VTIPL Coordinator Betsy Hardy, new Coordinator Donna Roberts, VTIPL President Ron McGarvey, and Rev. Dick Hibbert for all their work to make this happen.
Additional information and more photos can be seen at: Faith Climate Action Day
Out of our love and care for our neighbors, and to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, IPL invites you to share your climate march sign on social media during Faith Climate Action Week April 17-26 to continue bringing awareness to the climate crisis.
Faith Climate Action Week's theme is "Love Made Visible: Engaging in Sacred Activism" to protect the people we love who are most impacted by climate change.
People are more vulnerable to COVID-19 in communities where there are high levels of air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels. We need to continue to fight for clean air especially in light of the present pandemic.
So we urge you to creatively use your digital networks to take part in the Love Made Visible Climate March. Invite all members of your congregation to take part! Post to your congregation's social media channels, and to your own as well.
STEP ONE: Make your sign. Find inspiration in the faith-based messages and images from IPL leaders from across the nation who took part in last September's Climate March in the Sacred Activism Art Guide. Or download and print a simple black and white sign with the Love Made Visible logo to decorate.
STEP TWO: Take a photo of yourself with your sign.
STEP THREE: Post to social media with the hashtag #FCAW or #FaithClimateActionWeek, and don't forget to tag @interfaithpowerandlight on FB and @interfaithpower on Twitter
If you don't have access to sign making materials, choose from the beautiful "For Love of..." social media images made by NC IPLer Sarah Ogletree to post to your social media with #FCAW or #FaithClimateActionWeek between April 17-26.
During this time of crisis, let's remember that we have the power to create awareness and advocate for change that will benefit all life.