WASHINGTON, DC- Evangelicals from across the country are urging that Congress extend the Renewable Energy Tax Production Credit (aka"Wind Tax Credit") during the fiscal cliff negotiations. In a press call earlier today, evangelical leaders from the Good Steward Campaign and Evangelical Environmental Networkoutlined a national grassroots and media campaign to mobilize Christians on this issue. The call featured Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, Rev.Gabriel Salguero, President of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and Rev.Steve Fortenberry, Pastor, Common Ground Church, North Lima, Ohio.
"Conservative pro-life Christians are deeply concerned about the continuing impact o fpollution on children and the impact of toxins like mercury on the unborn. Our commitment to protect current and future generations has led us to conclude that renewable energy, including wind, is essential in protecting the health of present and future generations," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox. "While we've made progress in protecting our kids from toxic pollution more needs to be done. Every parent knows you can't put a price on the health of our kids."
This current campaign builds upon successful advocacy efforts earlier this year in which more than fifty thousand pro-life Christians petitioned the EPA in favor of clean energy. In the last week, thousands of Christians have signed a petition in favor of Wind Tax Credit as part of an ongoing email campaign to 9 million evangelicals and Catholics and renewed outreach from evangelicals to key House and Senate leaders.
Wind is a big part of America's current and future energy needs. Over 35% of new electric generation over the last five years has come from wind power. In 2011 alone, wind helped displace over fifteen thousand short tons of nitrogen oxide emissions and over one hundred million short tons of sulfur dioxide emissions, resulting in cleaner air and a safer world for our children.
Learnmore at http://creationcare.org/ourkids
You can listen to the teleconference hosted earlier today
by Randy Brinson
All too often, the discussion of the environment and renewable energy falls along deeply divided ideological and party lines. Republicans, wary of climate change, frequently close their hearts and minds to discussion of the need to expand alternative energy solutions, while Democrats frequently overreach on the issue of energy, trading barbs with the Republicans without finding meaningful discussion on real energy solutions and integration of all renewable energy resources.
While political parties continue to fight over energy priorities to score political points, the developing countries around the globe are feeling the social and economic impact of years of neglect with regard to energy policy. From sub Sahara Africa to our friends in Latin America, lack of reliable energy and a growing dependency on fossil fuels are leading to growing poverty and economic uncertainty,creating more instability across the globe.
We recently returned from the a trade mission to Latin America with the Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and the Dean of Agriculture at Auburn University, to create a partnership between the State of Alabama and Central America. As we met with cabinet ministers and the leaders of Guatemala and Honduras, such as President Lobo of Honduras, their concerns across the region were the same. The main concern was the need for security and energy so their economies could grow.
All too often, assistance from the United States has been fragmented or purely related to business opportunities that would benefit America. However, what is most important to the region is to provide adequate security for citizens, allow stable businesses opportunities and protect investment.This includes adequate training for law enforcement especially in areas of crime intervention, investigation, and conflict resolution.
Equally important, along with security, is the provision of adequate energy. The lack of a reliable grid and electrical transmission, along with rising fuel costs, has made energy scarce, unreliable and expensive. The cost of energy has led to the loss of manufacturing and processing facilities, further limiting employment opportunities.
Despite fertile ground and long growing seasons, the lack of energy has limited agricultural and agribusiness expansion, limiting irrigation, and refrigeration and storage facilities.
Solar energy is an important opportunity for the countries of Latin America. In the most remote areas of Honduras and Guatemala, solar provides the advantages of fixing the cost, lack of need for fossil fuels, and capturing energy from the abundant sunlight that is found in the tropics. The reliability of solar energy has increased and allows for local generation of power without dependency on expensive modes of transmission over large geographic areas. This uncoupling of energy from sources of fossil fuels from tyrannies such as Iran, will allow for economies to grow and prosper.
Prosperity for our friends in Latin America has dividends well beyond the region, particularly when it comes to our own security. If we support the growth of alternative energy resources such as solar, we can grow jobs such as coffee exports, tilapia farming, shrimp farming, agricultural processing and refrigeration, which will build valuable exports and alleviate poverty. If American foreign policy provides more energy alternatives, then the provision of reliable and affordable energy will not only protect our environment and slow climate change, it will lead to more trade, economic activity, and jobs. More job creation in Latin America will reduce dependency and create a stable economy benefiting both the US and Latin America.
If conservative leaders are really concerned about the security of the United States, they need to focus on providing reliable, renewable energy that will expand opportunity for our neighbors in Central America. We must act while we have time to change to direction of the
economic fortunes of our friends in Central America.
Dr. Randy Brinson is the chairman of the Christian Coalition of Alabama.
By Matt Walter
The U.S. saw a decrease in installed wind capacity in 2010. 5,115 MW of new wind energy capacity was installed in 2010 compared to approximately 10,000 MW in 2009. But 2011 is seeing an increase in wind energy, thanks in large part to federal government incentives. There are 5,600 MW of new wind energy capacity currently being installed.1
Federal tax incentives for new wind projects extend into 2012 which will lead to continued growth next year. 2013 is in great uncertainty since a strong energy policy has not been established by the federal government. Without incentives, new wind capacity will sharply decline in 2013, perhaps to as low as 0.170 MW new capacity.2
This leads to the overarching question: "Will the U.S. government continue to financially support new wind energy projects? Without such incentive, will utilities invest more of their own money in renewable energy technologies?" The answer to the second question is probably not. Renewable energy needs the support of the federal government now. Although turbine costs have been declining year after year, they are still not as economical as other sources of energy without government incentives.
I often hear something like this, "Why should we invest in an industry that is not able to support itself without significant government dollars?" But consider the nuclear industry? It got its start with huge amounts of government research dollars. What about government regulations on the safety of energy production components such as pressure vessels? Some utilities would not voluntarily abide by guidelines if they were not required to because these standards add expense and take away from corporate profits. Yet we are all thankful that they have to abide by them for the public safety.
You can extend this practicality debate to religious and spiritual arguments. "Why would you invest your time in someone who you know will never convert to Christianity?" "Why would you give money to that homeless man; he is just going to buy alcohol or drugs with it." The reason I believe is because our Jesus sees the best in people and things. He has an extravagant love that gives beyond our understanding. What we may see as throwing money away, he may see as investing in His kingdom and maybe, at times, investing in the earth he created.
Also, consider when Jesus was anointed at Bethany (Mark 14:1-9). The disciples said, "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." But look at what was Jesus' response was to this woman's extravagant love: "She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them anytime you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could."
What we see as waste, Jesus can see as extravagant love. This earth is the only earth we have. We should care for it that way, no matter the cost. Wind energy will continue to become more and more competitive with fossil fuels as the years go on. But until that time comes, let's not give up on doing the right thing. Let's love extravagantly without counting the cost.
"Intense love does not measure, it just gives." -Mother Teresa
Matt Walter is an engineering consultant for the energy industry. He has performed work for more than a dozen U.S. utilities, primarily for nuclear power plants.
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