Faith leaders urge support for clean-power initiative

I-180

Drenaline

Proposed ballot initiative I-180 would require NorthWestern Energy to cut its CO2 emissions in half by 2025.

Many denominations advocate for care of God’s creation.

Our plea urges not only an observance of ethics, but recognition of scientific proof. We agree with the overwhelming majority of climate scientists (97 percent). As climate scientist Katherine Heyhoe, wife of an evangelical pastor, explains: “The earth is warming and we are causing it.”

Is your denomination one of those faiths? Find out by scrolling down at: https://www.mtcares.org/welcome-to-mtcares/

You’ll see links to:  the pope and many Catholics; the 345-member World Council of Churches; Rick Warren, author of “A Purpose Driven Life,” and hundreds of other Evangelical leaders; Episcopalians; Jews; Lutherans and their LWF; Methodists;  Presbyterians; Southern Baptists; the United Church of Christ; and 10 other individual denominations or churches.

Faith communities are concerned about eco-justice issues raised by global warming. It disproportionately harms the poor. For example, in Alaska rising seas can erode up to 50 feet a year from areas previously protected by the now melting permafrost, dropping buildings into the rising sea. Similar shoreline erosion drives people from their land in Southeast Asia. It’s beginning to plague low-lying U.S. coasts.

Much migration from the Middle East has been exacerbated by hotter, dryer conditions driving people from their farms, adding to civil unrest. Expect more refugees from those areas.

We stopped sacrificing our young when Abraham spared Isaac. Let’s not regress to forfeiting our children’s future because of outdated beliefs about coal-fired electrons. Fossil fuel once served us well. However, we now must recognize that its overuse threatens humans, and other life on earth.

To help give us hope of reducing this CO2-caused threat, we acknowledge your First Amendment right to petition government and its regulated utilities. Say whether you prefer the clean, no-fuel-cost electricity that ballot initiative I-180 encourages.

The proposed initiative would require NorthWestern Energy to cut its CO2 emissions in half by 2025—five years before the Clean Power Plan. It would require investor-owned utilities to gradually increase the renewable electricity they supply to 80 percent by 2050.

If you use 1000 kWh of power a month, it would cost you $2.40 a year to fund retraining with enhanced unemployment benefits and pension security for workers displaced by the transition to energy from the sun and wind. However, I-180 would save you money because wind-generated power now sells for 2.5 cents/kwh and solar for 3.7 cents/kwh—way below the price of coal-fired electrons.

During the last century, the number of days each year with temperatures above 90 degrees has tripled in Montana. It’s why the Farmers Union predicts that 24,624 Montana agricultural jobs will be lost by 2050 if climate change continues unabated.

Another study predicts the loss of 11,000 jobs in sport fishing, skiing and tourism as Montana warms. That’s many more than the 7,000 jobs predicted to be lost if Montana abandons coal-fired generation as Oregon is doing. So, we must stand up for agriculture and other interests while easing the transition of fossil fuel workers away from coal.

To put I-180 on the November ballot, 24,175 signatures will be needed. If you’re moved to follow your faith leaders, please help gather 10 to 250 signatures. You can do it! To help, please call 406-696-2842, or email your name, phone and town address to gather@mtcares.org. Thanks. More information is available at https://www.mtcares.org/about-i-_…/draft-of-initiative-text/.

This guest editorial was signed by the Rev. Joseph Carver, SJ, pastor at Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Missoula, and these co-signers:
Rev. Marc Stewart, conference minister UCC, Billings
Rev. Stacey Siebrasse, pastor, First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Billings
Rev. Susan Otey, Pastor, Christ United Methodist Church, Great Falls
Rev. Susan K. DeBree, pastor, Livingston Holbrook and Pine Creek United Methodist Churches
Rev. Tracy Heilman, pastor, Columbus, Congregational Church
Rev. Ira Robison, retired minister, United Methodist Church, Missoula
Rev. Kenneth Crouch, retired minister, United Church of Christ, Billings
Rev. Mike Mulberry, minister, First Congregational, Billings
Rev. Steve Gordon, minister, Mayflower Congregational Church, Billings

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