More than 70 state Interfaith Power & Light leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., April 29-May 2 for IPL’s 2012 National Conference. “Growing Our Impact” was the theme as faith leaders and staff members explored how the network of 39 state affiliates and more than 14,000 congregations can become even stronger in our collective work to mobilize a religious response to global warming. Participants also spent a day lobbying on Capitol Hill, asking lawmakers to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s new standards to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and pass energy efficiency legislation this year.
Highlights of the conference included:
- A stirring opening service with words from several faith traditions
- Updates on the major IPL campaigns including Cool Harvest, Cool Congregations, the Preach-In on Global Warming, and Carbon Covenant
- Workshops on messaging, fundraising, and “power-mapping” networks of influence through social media
- A Religious Environmental Resources Expo featuring tables from more than a dozen national religious environmental initiatives. The expo also included a rousing welcome for three cyclists from Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light who arrived at the conference after riding more than 200 miles to spread word of the importance of caring for Creation.
- Updates on the federal farm bill and the ongoing shale gas and oil boom, as well as a presentation on “Coal – Current Threats and Opportunities” from Mary Anne Hitt of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign
- A keynote speech from Eric Pooley, author of The Climate War, who quoted David Orr in urging participants to embrace resilience and hope (Orr: “a verb with its sleeves rolled up”) to continue working for a healthy Earth
- A message from EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, who said his agency’s aims “are consistent with the values of our country: that food should be free of chemicals that are harmful to people and that the air should be clean.”
The conference wrapped up with a day on Capitol Hill, where participants made more than 100 visits to lawmakers’ offices to ask for support for the Energy Savings & Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.1000) and the Smart Energy Act (H.R. 4017). Participants urged additional sponsors to sign on in anticipation of a House-Senate conference that will merge the bills and pass the strongest possible legislation to reduce energy consumption and protect God’s Creation.
Participants also emphasized the faith perspective on the EPA’s newly proposed New Source Performance Standards, which would ensure that all new power plants are built with the most modern pollution control technology available, ensuring a balance of clean air and good jobs. Fossil fuel-burning power plants currently emit more than two billion tons of carbon pollution and other toxic pollutants into the air each year. The new proposal would cut these currently unlimited emissions by 60 percent and lead to cleaner air and fewer harmful health effects, while stimulating new construction and utility jobs. Help us support the proposal and reach our goal of sending 10,000 comments from the Interfaith Power & Light community by sending your comment today.