We in West Virginia are no strangers to the effects of climate change.
In White Sulfur Springs, a flash flood struck on June 23, 2016, leaving a sickening amount of devastation. Twenty-three people lost their lives. Burning houses, still occupied by their inhabitants, were swept from their foundations. Fifteen hundred houses were destroyed. The city’s water system – the main water main – was washed away. Fifty million dollars worth of roads and bridges are gone. According to a Washington Post story a year later, the flood was described as a “millennial flood”.
In Huntington last summer, flooding caused extensive damage to streets, buildings and overpasses. Some buildings at Marshall University sustained significant damage. And it came just months after February’s ice storms crippled the region’s electricity grid, leaving homes in many neighborhoods without power for several weeks during the coldest periods of winter. Variations of these stories can be heard statewide.
We will have no more that kind of severe weather which has a negative impact on our local and national economies if we continue to ignore the need for immediate and strong action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Our US Senator, Joe Manchin, is in a position to initiate this action.
It has become the center of the political universe in recent months during discussions and debates on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act. A major pillar of this legislation is making bold climate investments that match the scale of the climate crisis and the needs of our communities.
Many West Virginia faith-based institutions and their members would benefit from the infrastructure provisions and Build Back Better bills. The energy efficiency incentives and provisions thereof would directly benefit many West Virginia people who are likely to see even higher electricity rates soon, thanks to an increase in the rates pending before our Civil Service Board. ‘AEP, our state’s largest electric utility.
Job creation through increased energy efficiency measures could be an important economic bridge in the inevitable transition from fossil fuels as our main energy supplier. Yes, we believe the transition is inevitable! We in West Virginia must embrace a transition to truly renewable energy sources, instead of relying on fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. The future of our children and grandchildren really depends on it.
Pope Francis, in his 2020 message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation Care, said: “Our constant demand for growth and an endless cycle of production and consumption is exhausting the natural world. Forests are washed away, topsoil is eroding, fields fail, deserts advance, seas become acidic and storms intensify. Creation groans! “
We were recently moved when the Pope called a meeting of religious leaders and scientists on climate change, and heard from one of the scientists a call to take all possible measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country. name of the newborn granddaughter of this scientist, among other young people, who he says will have to live in “a largely uninhabitable world” as they grow older if this action is not taken now .
We call on Senator Manchin, a Catholic, to listen to the main voice of his own religious community and to support all provisions of the Infrastructure Bill and the Build Back Better Act – for the benefit of all West Virginia . We encourage him to approve the Clean Energy Performance Plan based on renewable energies, a proposal that should not include natural gas by-products like methane or blue hydrogen.
West Virginia needs and deserves this kind of economic help. It is NOT a document. As the center of the Appalachian coalfields, we have gained everything that could benefit us in this plan.
-The West Virginia Interfaith Power and Light steering committee
The mission of WV Interfaith Power & Light is to be faithful stewards of creation by responding to climate change by promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energies.
Members of the West Virginia Interfaith Power & Light Steering Committee include:
- Angie Iafrate, Appalachian Catholic Committee, WV Chapter Parkersburg, WV resident;
- Robin Blakeman, ordained minister PCUSA, board member of WVIPL, Huntington, resident of WV;
- Sue DeVall, Buddhist practitioner, WVIPL board member, Hedgesville, WV resident;
- Leah Rampy, Church of the Wild – Two Rivers, WVIPL Steering Committee Member, Shepherdstown, WV Resident;
- Katherine Smith, director, Baptist Creation Care Initiative, resident of Berkeley Springs, WV;
- Gary Zuckett, member of the Unitarian Universalist community of Charleston, member of the board of directors of WVIPL, resident of WV.