By Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light
This summer, PA Interfaith Power and Light members met with Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (7/7), Representative Scott Conklin (7/7), Congressman Conor Lamb (7/29), Senator Bob Casey 7/21, Senator Art Haywood (6/28), Representative Dan Miller( 7/14).
Our meetings drew attention to several focus areas which have become the central issues of PA IPL’s advocacy work this year. First, we pushed the legislators to oppose all new fossil fuel infrastructure in Pennsylvania. Second, we emphasized the need for government support for renewable energy, infrastructure, and materials and the importance of this sector for the future of our economy. We argued that a renewable economy will create a significant number of immediate and long term quality jobs in Pennsylvania for the workforce left behind by the fossil fuel and extraction industry and will slow the brain drain from our colleges and universities of talented young professionals. Lastly, we emphasized the dire need to address climate change as a human health issue. Supporting frontline communities and planning for an equitable climate justice future must be a priority for any legislator or policy maker committed to the community and its wellbeing.
Through these lobbying efforts, PA IPL is keeping our elected representatives informed on faith community climate priorities as they prepare to vote on legislation this summer and fall. Lobby visits also provide an opportunity for Congress members to meet and work with faith communities in their district. During each meeting we were given many suggestions on how to best approach those who are not fighting for climate justice in our state. Time and again we were reminded of the importance of communities of faith and conscience as key messengers and advocates of climate justice in our communities, both rural and urban. One legislator stated that there may be no better group to make legislators stand up and listen than the faith community. We can continue to use our voice in advocacy efforts like this, as well as letter writing, to proclaim our moral and ethical convictions and hold our representatives accountable when their actions and votes harm so many. It was clear each legislator knew the value and power of our community and wished to have a working relationship.
As a whole, we were able to push hard in many areas including Pennsylvania’s adoption of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, climate elements of the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, PA Senate Bill 119, Voter Suppression, and PA House Bill 1239 (Environmental Conservation).
We encourage other faith communities to use this August recess to meet with your representatives. You may be surprised at the impact you can have!