clean energy

Expanding Clean Energy in Maryland Would Protect the Poor

oat.s / Shutterstock.com
oat.s / Shutterstock.com

Pope Francis is a straight shooter who does not mince words: "If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us,” the pontiff said last year. “Never forget this!”

The pope’s warning and calls for action have galvanized many religious leaders from across Maryland to step up our efforts to protect God’s creation from climate change disruptions. We understand that it is the poor and most vulnerable among us who are bearing the brunt of human-induced climate change. Unless we act now, the impacts of devastating super-storms, massive floods, droughts, and crop failures will only accelerate. Refusing to bury one’s head in the sand and facing squarely the reality of climate change is a fundamental issue of justice and respect for life.

This is why I, a Franciscan friar priest, have joined more than 230 Maryland religious leaders, including Bishop Dennis Madden of the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore and six other leaders of Christian denominations across Maryland, in issuing an urgent, moral challenge. We are calling on Marylanders — including our elected officials — to take action on climate change by helping to shift our state’s energy policy towards renewable, clean energy sources.

A 300-Mile Ride for Climate Justice

Cyclist at sunset, maradonna 8888 / Shutterstock.com
Cyclist at sunset, maradonna 8888 / Shutterstock.com

I just completed my first Climate Ride, journeying 300 miles by bicycle over five days with 200 other climate activists. Climate Ride began five years ago, and the riders raise money for organizations that work on sustainability and climate change. They’re also a way to spread the word about the growing and increasingly determined climate movement. For those of us who take part – by now, thousands of us have – the rides have a deep and lasting impact.

These are my reflections from the last day of the ride; you can read reflections on the first four days of the Climate Ride here.

Obama’s Climate Action Plan Paves a Road Ahead

Marchers take part in the Forward on Climate rally on February 17, 2013. Photo courtesy Rena Schild/shutterstock.com

Yesterday was a momentous day for the creation care movement: after years of inaction from Congress, President Obama announced a major, comprehensive plan of action on climate change. President Obama’s new “Climate Action Plan,” which he laid out in a speech at Georgetown University Tuesday, addresses the country’s largest source of climate pollution — carbon dioxide from power plants — as well as boosting energy efficiency standards, renewable energy production on public lands, and resilience for cities, towns and roads.

Wind energy tax-credit extension part of 'cliff' deal

The fiscal cliff deal passed Tuesday included an one-year extension of a tax credit for the wind industry. The tax credit has encouraged investment in wind energy for the past two decades. USA Today reports:

[The tax credit extension] would allow any project that begins construction in 2013 to claim the credit, even if it goes online in 2014, according to industry insiders. The tax credit that expired Monday could be claimed only for projects that were up and running in 2012.

Read more here.

Encircle the White House Nov. 6 to Stop the Keystone Pipeline


On November 6, I will join Jim Wallis, staff members from Sojourners, and 15,000 others in Washington, D.C.'s Lafayette Park to tell President Obama to stop the Keystone XL pipeline project.

If approved by the Obama administration, the pipeline would transport non-conventional tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, 1,700 miles south -- through the American Heartland -- to the oil refineries in Texas on the Gulf of Mexico.

Isn't the Keystone XL Pipeline in Our National Interest?

Won't it reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil? Won't somebody else develop the Alberta tar sands if the U.S. doesn't do it -- someone like China, perhaps?

I've been wrestling with many of these issues as I contemplate risking arrest as part of two weeks of sustained protest by leading environmentalists, climate scientists, and faith-based groups at the White House forth to pressure the Obama Administration to block the Keystone XL Pipeline. This pipeline project will connect Canadian tar sands -- containing the second largest and dirtiest oil reserves on the planet -- with the oil refineries in Texas.

We Have the Technology

 Renewable energy packs a powerful punch. More solar energy hits the Earth's surface in one hour than is used by the entire global energy system in a year. In the U.S., Great Plains and East Coast off-shore wind could provide enough energy to meet the entire country's need. As nations seek ways to address energy security, air pollution, and climate change, they look to renewable resources such as solar, wind, and geothermal.

Now, researchers Mark Jacobson of Stanford and Mark Delucchi of U.C. Davis have calculated that it is possible to meet 100 percent of world energy demand using only energy from clean sources by 2050. They say we can do it -- and, what's more, we can do it using only off-the-shelf technology.

Jacobson and Delucchi did their projections based on only existing technologies that have no climate-disrupting-emissions and "low impacts on wildlife, water pollution, and land." Making the dramatic transition to using only such technology, they suggest, would require a combination of strategic policies and massively ramped-up manufacturing along the lines of retooling the auto sector to produce aircraft during World War II, only much bigger. Other studies, most famously by Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala, have shown similar results.

Take wind energy, for example. Jacobson and Delucchi's vision calls for production of approximately 3.8 million five-megawatt wind turbines to supply 50 percent of global power demand. They envision a similar scenario for various types of solar, and the rest from geothermal, wave, tidal, and hydro-power.

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July 2011 Sojourners
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