Eastern Washington Legislative Conference 2019
Earth Ministry guides people to advocate for stewardship of creation
Jessica Zimmerle of Earth Ministry Washington Interfaith Power and Light (WIPL), said the 26-year-old agency connects faith and environmental issues on three levels—faith formation into being active stewards of God's creation, organizing faith communities to model stewardship, and advocating for systemic change in policies to promote stewardship.
"God created the world, called it very good and we are entrusted to care for it," she said. "Humans are not just the last piece but part of the whole web of creation."
"When we advocate, it's important to hold onto the core values that lead us to care as people of faith. It will resonate with the hearts of decision makers," she said. "By advocating based on faith, we represent a constituency group. It's not to say all our faith community believes as we do, but to say I'm active in a particular faith community that shares common values. This helps them see numbers behind us, especially because people of faith vote."
Earth Ministry partners with scientists, policy experts, economists and impacted people through the 16-year-old Environmental Priorities Coalition. Through it several groups come together each year to work on four to five bills.
The 2019 bills Earth Ministry WIPL supports are 1) a 100 percent clean electrical grid by 2045 without any new hydro power; 2) a clean fuel standard to increase fuel efficiency by 2035 to decrease emissions 20 percent by integrating biofuels with carbon fuels for greener operation of vehicles; 3) three bills addressing threats to orcas and salmon related to noise pollution, food sources and phasing out five chemicals, and 4) a ban on plastic shopping bags.
The coalition that worked on Initiative 1631—tribal partners, business, labor, health, faith, low income and communities of color—continues and is now working together on the 100 Percent Clean Electricity Bill, Jessica said.
"We support investing in clean energy. There are more jobs in clean energy than in fossil fuels, Microsoft or Boeing," she said. "Many are in Eastern Washington.
"If we electrify transportation, electricity must be clean, so we work with utilities to develop low-cost clean energy," she said.
Jessica said just seven calls or contacts move an elected official.
In the workshop, Phyllis Kardos told of Responsible Development Northeast Washington's work to promote clean jobs and challenge a proposed Newport silicon smelter that would burn coal to produce "solar" panels.
Barbara Miller of the Silver Valley Resource Center said the Bunker Hill Superfund Site formed in 1983 now extends into Washington, making Eastern Washington/North Idaho the largest superfund site in the nation as lead and heavy metals wash downstream in the rivers.
Toxic waste dumps—repositories—were created along Idaho rivers, like one at Cataldo Mission. In one day of flooding, the U.S. Geological Service measured 160 metric tons of lead washing downstream, Barbara said, and it continues to flow down river.
"We work to shut down the repository and seek environmental justice for Kellogg, a poor, isolated community," she said.
For information, call 206-632-2426 or visit earthministry.org.
To view video of the Earth Ministry Workshop click here.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, March, 2019