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E-M:/ Religious community on energy policy

For More Information Contact
Kim Winchell (989) 695-2402; kwinch5940@aol.com
[additional state and national contact names available upon request]

62 Michigan Religious Leaders Join 1,200 Colleagues in Nationwide Call for Emphasis on Energy Efficiency and Conservation.

Heads of Major Faith Groups Establish Campaigns in 21 States to Promote Energy Conservation and Climate Protection.

February 26, 2002. [Lansing, Michigan]. As the U.S. Senate takes up energy legislation and in response to the announcement of President Bush's climate change plan, 62 senior religious leaders in Michigan have joined 1,200 colleagues nation-wide in a letter to every U.S. Senator calling for "energy conservation, fuel efficiency, and alternate energy development to protect God's creation and God's children." Signatories on the letter include 45 national leaders of such major faith groups and denominations as the United Methodist Church, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, The Episcopal Church, The Orthodox Church in America, and the American Baptist Churches.

Against the backdrop of efforts against terrorism, the 1,200 leaders stressed "the intimate link between the safety of our people and the reliability of our energy system," The Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Christ said. He continued, "We're telling our Senators that energy conservation is necessary for homeland security as well as environmental protection and justice."

Along with similar campaigns in 20 other states from Maine to West Virginia, Oregon to Texas, Michigan religious leaders have established an Interfaith Climate Change and Energy Campaign. "Our message to Senators Levin and Stabenow is that God calls us to protect all of creation and that energy conservation is an important way to honor our covenant with our God," said Kim Winchell, an Evangelical Lutheran and state coordinator for the Michigan Campaign.

As the U.S. Senate begins debate on its energy legislation this week, the 1,200 religious leaders and 21 state campaigns are specifically calling upon the Senate to:

*  Substantially increase vehicle fuel efficiency, close the SUV loop-hole and encourage the auto industry to produce vehicles using hybrid-electric, fuel cell, and other clean technologies; provide consumer incentives for their purchase.

*  Oppose drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

*  Invest more resources in renewable energy sources such as wind, geothermal, solar, and biomass technologies.

*  Include carbon dioxide as a regulated pollutant from power plants.

*  Increase funds for low-income energy assistance and inter-city rail and mass transit.

"Our Judaic teachings are very clear," said Rabbi Marla J. Feldman of Detroit.  "We have a responsibility to care for the Earth.  We have a responsibility to future generations.  The Senate has before it an enormous opportunity and obligation in setting our future path."

"As the U.S. Senate debates legislation, this is a week for Senators Levin and Stabenow to consider deeply this opportunity for faithful stewardship of God's creation. We'll seek to do our part for energy conservation from encouraging action from our pulpits to education and organizing through our state interfaith campaign," said the Rev. Charles Morris, pastor of St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Wyandotte.

The 1,200 religious leader signatories and 21 state campaigns represent a culmination of organizing and public education over the past two years - producing such initiatives as Energy Star congregations, a statement on climate change by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, and a "Let There Be Light: An Interfaith Call for Energy Conservation and Climate Justice" statement signed by over 40 heads of major U.S. denominations and other senior leaders on the moral imperatives for energy conservation.

Text of letter and list of signatories available upon request