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BY SARA HOLLIDAY

August 29, 2019


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EPA administrator Andrew R. Wheeler at a Pennsylvania refinery
“E.P.A. to roll back regulations on methane, a potent greenhouse gas,” reports the New York Times. “The Environmental Protection Agency, in its proposed rule, aims to eliminate federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines and storage facilities....The rollback is particularly notable because major energy companies have, in fact, spoken out against it – joining the ranks of automakers, electric utilities and other industrial giants that have opposed other administration initiatives to dismantle climate-change and environmental rules.” (Here are more details about industry perspectives on this issue.)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” – Matthew 5:43-48
Environmental activist groups like 350.org and Greenpeace rightly shout "keep it in the ground!" and saddle extraction and manufacturing corporations with a lot of blame for rising greenhouse-gas emissions. Those industries have hardly rushed to green the world, despite their protestations of innovation and lessened impact. Yet the Trump administration seems so bent on destroying life on Earth as fast as possible that they want to quash even the baby steps taken by past regulators, steps embraced by those very industries.
 
I don’t want to fall down the rabbit hole of analyzing Trump’s state of mind or that of his appointees – but can it be that their hatred of Obama is so great that any benefit lingering from his administration must be stamped out? Even if they genuinely don’t accept the science around global heating, emissions controls improve health and other good things “for nothing.” Or is it is it all about fear for the long-term wealth of the Republican donor base, in the year when electricity generated from renewables passed the total from coal for the first time?
 
This is especially tricky to get my brain around because – as you can tell from those last paragraphs - it’s all too easy for me to dehumanize people whose entire living is based in fossil fuels. CEOs’ willing compliance with the existing regulations makes me realize again that they’re also just people – that corporations we speak of as “faceless” are in fact nothing but faces, human faces who make both bad and good decisions, who are both selfish and altruistic, just like the rest of us. I might be tempted to pray for them only as "enemies." Yet the coalminers who’ve been so tossed around in political rhetoric are also our siblings in Christ, who may just change their minds and root for a Green New Deal, as Rebecca Solnit mentions in this inspiring article.
 
A previous such change to regulations got the kibosh from a federal appeals court, and the Natural Resources Defense Council and others are lawyering up. There’s also a period for public comment and review, and the Times quotes senior representatives from Shell, Exxon, and BP giving a hearty thumbs-down. I’m taking on some strange bedfellows if I find hope in their words rather than the EPA’s – but these are profoundly strange times, and a good deed's a good deed for any reason. The just and the unjust may not be who we assume they are.
Keep an eye out for the public-comment period on this proposed change to regulations.

The NRDC got out in front with a statement about this proposal - take a look at their current projects.

And, if you possibly can, join a climate strike near you on September 20.
God who strives in every living being, we give you thanks for people who do the right thing, whether their motives be as we'd choose or not. Give us confidence in our prophetic perspective, but also the humility not to take sides against those who are also trying to do their best. Continue to grant your support to the valiant campaigners for our planet. In the name of your ever-creative Spirit, we pray - Amen.
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