The faith community and its organizational allies are planning events that will help you implement your commitment to Creation. Check out our upcoming events here.
The faith community and its organizational allies are planning events that will help you implement your commitment to Creation. Check out our upcoming events here.
The recognition of present and future dangers is a true catalyst for action. CIPL and the California faith community have understood this for years and it is based on the increasing danger to health and our planet that we act. As the climate crisis takes on a greater sense of urgency, people of faith are lowering pollution emissions, educating communities and advocating for strong and binding climate policy that will protect our future.
As we enter into 2018, California’s legislative agenda holds challenges leftover from 2017, as well as new opportunities to strengthen climate protections, and remain an example to our nation and the world. Some of the principles that underlay our action were raised in CIPL’s August, 2017 lobby day and training the evening before. Fifteen people, from various faith traditions and regions of the state, shared their story of what brought them into the environmental realm, reflected on best ways to reach others, and did some soul-searching. Rabbi Marv Goodman, former director of the Northern California Board of Rabbis, led a discussion based on a popular saying by Rabbi Tarfon, which reads, “It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.”
Asked for individual interpretations of this phrase from attendees, the following thoughts came forward: ‘even though a system may be unsteady, we are called to keep building’; ‘in the ultimate vision or goal for a livable planet, we all have a piece to construct’; ‘real living is in the struggle – we don’t have a choice not to participate.’ A word of caution also arose – to not feel so overwhelmed by a situation that one feels that they can’t do anything. There is always the opportunity for inclusion, for true efforts and for change no matter the circumstance.
Through these valuable statements and further reflection, the group came to a common agreement that, for true change to take place, we must work on changing ourselves. As one participant put it, “I’m changing the world because I’m changing myself.” Indeed, when others see that external action for change is reflected in the person himself or herself, there is greater credibility to inspire others. Many major faith traditions understand this principle, which is the basis for true and right relationships with ourselves, others, and our planet.
Armed with a renewed sense of purpose, communal strength, and the latest information about legislators and bills, faith advocates attended 39 meetings, focused on garnering legislative support for our priority legislation: SB 100, which would have 100% of electrical energy be from renewable sources by 2045; SB 49, which would have California continue to abide by existing federal environmental and worker safety guidelines, despite new policies from the current Administration; AB 17, which expands free public transit passes to students; AB 179, which would mandate that at least one of the nine members of the California Transportation Commission have direct experience with disadvantage communities; and AB 1082 and AB 1083, which aims to expand EV Charging Stations and infrastructure in public lands and at schools.
Of this legislation, all but SB 100 passed both houses and AB 17 was vetoed by Governor Brown.
In an unexpected turn of events, (though not uncommon for the last two weeks of the legislative session), opposition arose to SB 100. Despite a great deal of support for the bill which would greatly expand California’s renewable energy, create jobs, clean the air and fight climate change, the IBEW Local 1245 came out against it mainly with concerns about job protection for union workers.
As we enter 2018, opportunities for crucial action abound on the local, state and national levels.
In the Golden State, efforts to pass SB 100, now a two-year bill, will continue. On a local level, CIPL and affiliates are involved in a number of issues. One notable effort is in Los Angeles, spear-headed by STAND-LA (Standing Together Against Neighborhood Drilling.) This coalition of environmental justice, faith, public health, housing and community groups, including CIPL, is continuing a multi-year effort to close oil drilling sites that are in proximity to schools and residential areas. One such site is the Allenco drilling site, which has been linked to numerous health issues and which sits on land owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
At the national level, there are several campaigns that continue the US’s commitment to a clean energy future but which are being opposed by the current administration. The “We’re Still In” campaign demonstrates the American people’s commitment to the Paris Agreement despite our nation now being the holdout in supporting it officially.
You, as a person of faith bringing the principles of caring for the common good into the political realm, are encouraged to review, sign on, and share with others any campaigns you are involved in and any online petitions you have signed on to. Please let us know of local efforts that you are involved in that need more support.
Some active campaigns to check out:
What is an Air Quality Management District?
An Air Quality Management District is a legislative body which drafts and passes laws regarding air quality and pollutants in the area. In California, there are 22 Air Quality Management Districts, each staffed by a group of elected officials appointed to serve on the board.
How does the BAAQMD operate?
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has control over the 9 counties of the greater Bay Area, and is composed of 24 elected officials from the various counties. During their biweekly meetings, the Air District’s Board of Director discusses rules and regulations, which pass with a majority vote. In addition to their regular meetings, the BAAQMD has programs to involve the community in issues relating to air quality, such as the Community Air Risk Evaluation Program.
What are issues that the BAAQMD is currently discussing?
Until recently, the BAAQMD was largely focused on issues relating to toxins in the atmosphere, and did not have nearly as much influence on policy regarding greenhouse gas emissions. However, many constituents and elected officials feel that greenhouse gases and air quality must be discussed in tandem, given the importance of these emissions to air quality, but also to the various other functions of industry, agriculture, and business in the Bay Area. To this end, on May 31st, 2017, the Board of Directors of the Air District passed Regulation 12, Rule 16 to cap greenhouse gas emissions from the 5 oil refineries in the district. However, due to discrepancies regarding feasibility of this legislation between the Air District’s Board members and staff, the Board decided to postpone its vote on this legislation until September 2017.
How does Bay Area air quality compare to California and the United States?
According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, the Bay Area ranks among the worst regions in the United States for air quality. The region is listed as sixth worst for short-term spikes in particulate matter, and fourth worst for year-round totals. This is due to a combination of factors, including the hordes of carbon-emitting automobiles and oil refineries, combined with the drier, hotter weather California regularly experiences. Although the five-year drought came to an end this past winter, a representative from the ALA said that dry, hot weather may become the new normal.
What are the main sources of pollution?
As noted by the BAAQMD, one of the primary stationary industrial sources of air pollution are the five oil refineries in the Air District. However, a variety of other factors are also influencing our air quality currently, including transportation and agriculture. In Contra Costa county, 25% of emissions are due to agriculture in the eastern parts of the county, primarily through cattle emitting methane and trucks used for transportation.
How has air quality affected health and other issues in the Bay Area?
In the parts of the Bay Area more affected by toxic air pollutants, air quality has already taken a toll on people’s health. Especially in areas like Richmond, Pittsburg, and Martinez, where constituents have already had lifetime exposure to pollutants, public health is suffering immensely. In Contra Costa county in 2014, there were 49.5 emergency room visits per 10,000 people due to asthma alone. In part, this is due to lack of adequate access to health care, combined with consistent exposure to pollutants. Many of the communities suffering most are low-income communities of color.
What can people of faith do to get involved?
Air quality and greenhouse gas emissions are both important issues which influence our climate, our health, and Creation as a whole. That’s why it is important that people of faith get involved to represent our beliefs. In the Bay Area, air quality is an issue not only pertaining to the well-being of our health and the environment, but also one which pertains to social justice and the organization of our society. As people of color are more directly influenced by air quality in our district, it is important that we represent the issues of equality and justice as well.
Thank you to Jan Warren and Rev. Will McGarvey for providing useful information for this fact sheet.
California Interfaith Power & Light held its 10th annual awards ceremony at Oakland’s Beebe Memorial Cathedral last night, and the feeling of interfaith solidarity in the room was palpable. CIPL members from Islamic, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist and Unitarian communities shared food, offered prayers and celebrated climate care and advocacy work being done by congregations all over California from Humboldt County to El Cajon.
CIPL’s annual awards ceremonies are always special, but this year’s gathering came at a time when many, especially climate-minded voters, are feeling discouraged following the results of the 2016 election. Many expressed profound concern and anxiety about the state of public discourse, the rise of intolerance and the devastating implications of any weakening in U.S. climate leadership.
Attendees were encouraged to deepen their commitment to environmental justice by becoming more engaged, especially at the local level, where important climate policy and green job victories are possible. Focus on faith communities’ moral responsibility to raise consciousness about threats to the common good and to practice care for local and global neighbors was a common theme throughout the evening.
The Cool Climate Awards began with the sharing of a Sioux prayer offered in support of Standing Rock by Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll of Church by the Side of the Road in Berkeley and founder of Green the Church. Emcee the Hon. Doug Linney, national IPL Board member facilitated the presentation of awards to congregations for their work in Green Building, Climate Advocacy, Climate Education, Energy Efficiency and Conservation. This year’s awards also included a Climate Luminary and Green Retreat Center. Honorees came from diverse faith traditions and from all over California. Presenters of the awards included CIPL Steering Committee members Rabbi Marvin Goodman, Executive Director of the Northern California Board of Rabbis; Juana Torres of the Sierra Club and volunteer with the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles; and G.L. Hodge, co-chair of the San Francisco Interfaith Council.
Among the highlights of the evening, one stood out in particular: the video of and words from Rev. Ken Chambers, pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland. This congregation, along with numerous faith communities and organizations, engaged in an historic two-year struggle that ultimately defeated a proposal to bring coal from Utah into an export terminal in Oakland. The defeat of this project was more than just one regional success; it epitomized the local and global demand for climate justice and a just transition to clean energy. West Side Missionary, along with many other East Bay CIPL member congregations are continuing to work together for green jobs and climate resilient communities. In accepting the award for Climate Advocacy, Rev. Chambers stated, “West Side Baptist Church was a vessel to be used but the campaign would not have happened without everyone that played a part.” Referencing the broadly shared feelings of post-election uncertainty, he added, “In lieu of our present, political dynamics, if we ever worked together before, we surely must work together now.”
California Legislative Overview – September 8, 2016
This summer, California Interfaith Power & Light advocacy made a difference in Sacramento, amplifying the moral call for climate action. Together, we inspired passage of far reaching bills designed to significantly cut carbon pollution and protect the health of our communities. Thirty clergy and faith leaders attended 70 legislative meetings in June and August as part of our Sacramento advocacy days. CIPL sent 10,394 messages on priority legislation and we provided educational workshops and presentations in multiple houses of worship. Thank you for responding, for showing up, making calls, sending messages and speaking out. Thanks to you, California remains a state of visionary leadership, committed to tackling climate change, improving public health and growing the economy.
Through interfaith collaboration and working in concert with labor, equity, health and environmental sectors, strong policy became law. SB 32 will reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 40% below 1990 levels, and SB 1383 will significantly reduce the emission levels of highly potent short-lived climate pollutants like methane, hydrofluorocarbons and black carbon. In addition, AB 1550 and AB 2722 will not only increase investments in communities most burdened by pollution and poverty but is the first time that disadvantaged communities are statutorily recognized as recipients of Climate Investment funds.
At the signing of SB 32 and AB 197 into law on September 8 in Los Angeles, legislators and advocates from multiple sectors of society gathered to celebrate. Mahatma Gandhi’s famous saying, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” is truly expressed and being implemented in the hearts and actions of those who gathered and by the members of our diverse statewide network. Climate visionary leadership happens in California because faithful folks, like those in our network, demand it. The policy victories this year serve as a reminder that we truly have the power to usher in a brighter future. Click here to see pictures from our 2016 advocacy and the SB 32/AB 197 signing ceremony in Los Angeles.
Posted 08.17.16 – Second CIPL Advocacy Day in Sacramento
The busiest time of the California legislature is usually the last two weeks of the session, when bills with far-reaching impacts are subject to intense discussion, negotiation and, sometimes, amendments. August 16 was hopefully an auspicious time for two dozen clergy and faith leaders to make the faith voice heard at CIPL’s Sacramento Advocacy Day, our second visit to the State Capitol this year.
The group made 40 visits to Assembly and Senate offices regarding CIPL’s 2016 priority legislation. All five bills have the common theme of greenhouse gas reduction and environmental justice, including: SB 32, which will have California at 40% below 1990 pollution emission levels by 2030; SB 1279, that will prohibit state funds from funding any newly proposed bulk coal export terminals; SB 1383, which will reduce the emission levels of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, black carbon, and hydro fluorocarbons; AB 1550, that will expand Climate Investment funds to go directly to communities most hard hit by pollution and other criteria; and AB 2722, which will create the Transformative Climate Community Program to direct $205 million of Climate Investment funds to communities most disadvantaged by pollution. Click here to send a message to your legislator.
Recognizing the importance and positive impact of these bills, as well as understanding the unique voice of the faith community, advocates were armed with personal testimony, talking points, and a keen intention on listening to legislative offices. Latest updates on legislation, especially SB 32 and AB 1550, were shared.
At the conclusion of the meetings, a celebratory event honoring Senators Fran Pavley and Ricardo Lara took place at Cafeteria 15L, a favorite Sacramento hangout. Some 60 folks gathered as Senator Pavley was thanked for her dozen years in the state legislature, marked by the passage of California’s landmark climate legislation, AB 32. Bonnie Holmes-Gen of the American Lung Association, James Marston of Environmental Defense Fund, as well as The Rev. Sally Bingham gave remarks on Senator Pavley’s crucial climate leadership, which has impacted the country and the world. The awards themselves were created and donated by California artist and CIPL supporter Jennifer Koney, who attends CIPL member congregation Star King Unitarian Universalist Church in Hayward.
The work of the faith community for this legislative session is far from over. Alerts and action are being planned to continue to obtain the votes needed for the passage of these important bills. Make your voice heard by taking action on current legislation.
POSTED JUNE 9, 2016:
Just days after all California Assembly and Senate bills passed their house of origin, CIPL was out in force advocating for key bills focused on environmental justice, funding equity, and clear pollution emissions targets to avert the worst effects of climate change.
On June 8, CIPL staff, steering committee members, interns and volunteers attended 32 meetings with legislative offices – 21 Assembly and 11 Senate – encouraging support for the following bills: SB 32, which will have California at 40% below 1990 pollution emission levels by 2030; SB 1279, that will prohibit the California Transportation Commission from funding any newly proposed projects that allows or facilitates the handling, storage or transportation of coal at a port facility located in or near a disadvantaged community; SB 1383, which will reduce the emission levels of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons; AB 1550, that will expand SB 535 to require 25% of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) investments to be located within disadvantaged communities, and an additional 20% of GGRF investments to benefit low-income households and communities across the state; and AB 2722, which will create and fund Transformative Climate Community plans in disadvantaged communities most burdened by high levels of pollution.
Some offices, especially those concerned with their constituents’ health that is threatened by pollution, were familiar with the bills. Some stated that CIPL’s visits were the first they had heard of these bills, demonstrating the importance of legislators hearing from their districts. The visits highlighted the value of increased relationship building with key legislators, especially those who are deeply involved with the faith communities in their districts.
Of the 11 advocates, three interns attended: Kia Jones, Rebecca Bland, and Raphael Flores. In addition, three clergy, CIPL Steering Committee members Rabbi Marvin Goodman, Rev. Chris Breedlove, and Program Director Rev. Will Scott participated. A larger interfaith climate advocacy day is being planned for August 16th CIPL volunteers from key legislative districts are encouraged to attend. Please contact Allis Druffel to find out more.
A highlight of the day, in addition to the meetings themselves, was the camaraderie and information sharing that took place on the Amtrak trip to and back from Sacramento. It was certainly a more pleasant and lower-emissions way to travel.