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ELCA Advocacy Updates


Excerpts from monthly reports from the ELCA Office of Advocacy 


November 2017


FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS: The November day of fasting and action is Tuesday, Nov. 21. This month, we focus on federal investments that make communities more resilient and better prepared for destructive natural disasters and the consequences of a changing climate. ELCA congregations and community organizations across the country work tirelessly to help when disaster strikes, most recently in Texas, California, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. To prepare our nation for the future, our federal government must invest in research, urban planning and building infrastructure designed for the climate challenges of the next 100 years.

California - Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy loppca.org  D
.C. STAFF VISIT: A highlight of October was the visit of Ruth Ivory-Moore, ELCA program director for energy and environment, for the annual Sierra Pacific Synod Hunger event at Lutheran Church of the Incarnation in Davis, an interfaith climate change symposium, and a forum at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sacramento, where, with the farm bill getting more attention, she met Karen Ross, California secretary of food and agriculture. (Picture left)

Pennsylvania- Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy–Pennsylvania Lutheranadvocacypa.org  Lutheran advocates joined Tracey at a three-day Climate Reality Leadership Training in Pittsburgh. 

Wisconsin - Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin loppw.org CARING FOR GOD’S CREATION:
The director worked with members form Milwaukee, Madison and other parts of the state to lead a Wisconsin Climate Table retreat in Eau Claire. LOPPW advocated against a bill that would weaken sulfide mining regulations. LOPPW is making one last push to support a bill that would make it easier for utilities to assist low-income residents to get lead out of their pipes for drinking water.

October 2017

ELCA Advocacy Office, Washington, D.C.: UN FOUNDATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE, The Rev. Amy Reumann, director: ELCA Advocacy participated in a roundtable discussion on “Could a new U.S. fund help support the international climate effort?” held at the UN Foundation. The roundtable included NGOs; faith-based organizations; state and city government officials; and financial institutions. In the wake of the current administration’s decision not to fund entities like the Green Climate Fund (which was an ELCA priority matter); and the stepping up of sub-nationals and private entities — a mechanism is needed to be able get funding to those vulnerable populations that need assistance in adaptation and mitigation efforts in response to climate change. Fund development is in its infancy, as numerous legal and logistical issues must be resolved before moving forward.

Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y., Dennis Frado, director: THE OCEANS – A WEALTH OF OPPORTUNITIES:  Michelle Bachelet, president of Chile, stressed the need to raise awareness of work to protect, conserve and use oceans in a sustainable manner in her keynote address at a U.N. “High-level dialogue: The Oceans – A Wealth of Opportunities” on Sept. 20. More than 3 billion people depend on the oceans, which generate $3 trillion to $6 trillion in trade annually. Bachelet called for a stronger national framework regarding Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 14, enhanced conservation and sustainable use, and a change in consumption and production patterns.

Other speakers included Thomas Esang Remengesau Jr., president of Palau, who urged reversal of failed existing approaches to ocean warming and acidification and called on the U.N. to take a stronger role as a conduit for smaller developing countries, and Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway, who stressed that a U.N. convention of law of the sea is essential and encouraged scientific development and common understanding. She noted the appointment of a U.S. special envoy.

Some speakers stressed the promotion of sustainable development for sustainable economies and called for a global effort to reduce plastic by 75 percent. Others called for long-term commitments in the public, private, and international sectors, with attention to strategies for off-coast tourism, biomedical research, and recognition of zone-based fishing.

California
- Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy loppca.org Bills to move California toward 100 percent carbon-free electrical energy by 2045, and to create a small fee on water bills to fund cleanup of contaminated drinking water supplies and support affordable access to safe water in low-income, disadvantaged communities, came up short and will likely be on our agenda in 2018.

Minnesota - Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy - Minnesota lutheranadvocacymn.org  FAITH AND CLEAN ENERGY CAMPAIGN KICKOFF EVENT (OCT. 24): Be sure to join this downtown Minneapolis event in person 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. (including lunch and news conference) or via livestreambeginning at noon. Location will be announced soon! Click here to RSVP!

Also, be sure to sign a letter and add a note for legislators in support of an improved Renewable Energy Standard (RES). Since the Legislature passed its current bipartisan RES 10 years ago for 25 percent renewably sourced energy by 2025 (which we are on track to exceed), most legislators in the House and many in the Senate are new and know little about clean, renewable energy. It’s time to educate leaders in our churches so that church people help develop legislative champions!

September 2017

California - Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy  loppca.org  LOPP-CA hosted the August lobby day for California Interfaith Power & Light and participated in the Green California lobby day and awards reception.  Requiring a two-thirds vote, the outlook is shaky for long-negotiated legislation to add a small charge to water bills to support drinking water cleanup and affordability for low-income Californians.

Minnesota - Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy–Minnesota lutheranadvocacymn.org  FAITH LEADER LETTER ON CLEAN ENERGY: The Renewable Energy Standard Minnesota passed in 2007 with broad bipartisan support mandated that 25 percent of Minnesota’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025 (30 percent for Xcel Energy). Minnesota is on target to exceed the mandate, and various studies have shown that Minnesota could dramatically increase renewable energy use without sacrificing reliability or causing grid problems. Wind is Minnesota’s cheapest energy, and now solar is also competitive. Bipartisan legislation for an updated standard of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 was introduced during the 2017 legislative session. Unfortunately, several legislators oppose these changes based on outdated concerns, cost misunderstandings, and significant pressure from fossil-fuel campaign contributors. Lutheran Advocacy-MN, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, ISAIAH, and the EcoFaith Networks from the Minneapolis Area Synod and the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ask church leaders to sign a letter and add a note for legislators in support of the improved standard. An educational event is also being planned for Oct. 24.

Pennsylvania - Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy–Pennsylvania Lutheranadvocacypa.org The Pennsylvania Senate passed a revenue plan in late July that included a variety of revenue sources, including a severance tax on Marcellus Shale that was lower than that requested by the governor in return for rollbacks on environmental protections – a trade that LAMPa opposes.

Wisconsin - Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin Loppw.org CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION: LOPPW is advocating for legislators to amend a bill, which includes diminishing environmental regulations for companies that build in electronics and information technology manufacturing zone, to not ease any of the state environmental regulations it proposes to ease. The director attended the public hearing for the bill and also spoke on the radio about our concerns.  Here is LOPPW’s news release:  thewheelerreport.com/wheeler_docs/files/0830loppwi.pdf.


August 2017

California - Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy loppca.org
  • RENEWABLE ENERGY: California Senate President Kevin de León has introduced a plan, SB 100, to reach 100 percent carbon-free electrical energy for the state within 30 years, aiming toward 50 percent by 2030 and 100 percent 2045. There are debates over what constitutes “carbon-free” and over the economics of reaching the last few percentage points, but LOPP-CA and California Interfaith Power & Light support the “aspirational goal” of 100 percent as a means of sending market signals, driving technological innovation, and continuing to grow a green economy.
  • CARBON EMISSIONS: On July 25, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a cap-and-trade carbon emissions reduction policy that modifies and extends the 2006 landmark climate change law, originally supported by LOPP-CA. AB 398 sets a target to make a 40 percent cut from 1990 levels by 2030. LOPP-CA was intensely focused on this issue for several weeks, that included a 2½-hour Sunday afternoon meeting (Saturday invitation) of about 20 nongovernmental organization representatives with Brown, legislative leadership staff, and California Air Resources Board staff. LOPP-CA was the
    leading faith voice in the Legislature in the days leading up to its final passage. The
    compromise, which required two-thirds of the Legislature to pass, gathered support of several GOP lawmakers – but also came in the face of opposition from several groups on both sides of the aisle. The Washington Post has the full story.
  • AIR POLLUTION: Policy Council Chair Sharon Heck (pictured (right) with California Assembly member Christina Garcia (left)) represented LOPP-CA at the Bell Gardens bill-signing of a companion air pollution measure, AB 617, which was an essential part of the compromise package, and addresses direct threats to human health from “criteria air pollutants” and “toxic air contaminants.”

Pennsylvania - Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy–Pennsylvania Lutheranadvocacypa.org STATE BUDGET DEAL: In the waning days of July, with the House already in recess until September, the Senate passed a revenue package that for the first time includes a severance tax on gas drilling but trades it for seriously weakened regulations on the industry and attacks on Medicaid. HB 542 borrows $1.2 billion to fill in a hole left in the 2016-2017 budget. A severance tax on natural gas drillers would generate about $80 million in new revenue in addition to the current impact fee. LAMPa opposes the environmental protection rollbacks in this budget deal, which effectively strips the Department of Environmental Protection of its ability to regulate the oil and gas industry by requiring it to use third-party contractors to speed up the permitting process, with permits automatically approved if not resolved in a short time frame. It also eases regulations for coal-related manganese discharges within 5 miles of drinking water supplies. The plan also allows oil and gas wastewater treatment facilities to operate under expired permits until 2019, putting drinking-water sources at risk.

Wisconsin - Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin Loppw.org CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION: RE-AMP is a group of environmental advocates that focuses on eight Midwestern states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In July, LOPPW was part of RE-AMP’s annual gathering in Chicago. Interesting meeting tidbits: Kenote Keya Chatterje (U.S. Climate Network) said, “We are the first generation to see the effects of climate change and the last to be able to do anything about it.” Study in Toledo – 10 focus groups were held to discuss political candidates and jobs. All participants said they trusted steel and other factory jobs returning more than green jobs. Not enough is known about green jobs. Find them in your state, get specific about describing them, and make them known.

 

July 2017

California - Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy.  Western States Youth Gathering, Dream Big, was held at California Lutheran University at the end of June. LOPP-CA’s director, Mark Carlson, partnered for a couple of care for creation and climate-change workshops with a Ventura County-based AmeriCorps volunteer serving with CivicSpark, an initiative of Gov. Jerry Brown and the Local Government Commission, which places energy and water fellows with local governments, working on a diverse array of projects.  Carlson also initiated invitations to presenters to do other workshops on youth and climate change. Several sessions drew standing and sitting-on-the-classroom-floor crowds of interested youth and adults.

Pennsylvania - Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy - Pennsylvania.  The Department of Environmental Protection’s operational budget, which supports water programs, was cut another 3.85 percent from last year, down 34 percent since 2002-2003. Funding for the Susquehanna and Delaware river basins commissions was slashed by 50 percent. 

Washington - Paul Benz, Faith Action Network. The Legislature is in its third special session, and we are still fighting for a solar incentive program for businesses and households, as well as other bills.

Wisconsin - Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin. LOPPW’s director helped organize the annual Wisconsin Climate Table all-day annual retreat. Although we focus on climate change, we have decided to add water issues to our efforts. Recently a bill to deregulate some of the protections of water affected by high capacity wells in Wisconsin was passed. LOPPW supports a bill to facilitate utilities to help low-income residents get lead out of their pipes, but it was put on hold. A coalition of secular and faith-based groups is meeting over the summer to discuss a compromise made on the bill and possible next steps. LOPPW created a Vimeo video of one of meteorologist and ELCA member Bob Lindmeier’s presentations on climate change. More than 120 people attended his presentation at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Madison.

June 2017

ELCA Advocacy Office, Washington, D.C.

METHANE SAFEGUARDS UPHELD IN CONGRESS: On May 10, the Senate’s vote to repeal the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Methane Waste Rule failed on the Senate floor by a vote of 51-49. The BLM methane rule reduces excessive greenhouse gas waste on federal land, requiring oil and gas operators to use up-to-date technologies to better control leaks and emissions. The protection of the methane rule is a legislative victory for care for creation advocates in the faith community. ELCA Advocacy, Lutheran professors and theologians, and other leaders have supported the rule with action alerts and testimonies since 2015. The Trump administration has issued a review of the rule, but it will likely be several years before it is completed.

PARIS AND U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: ELCA Advocacy issued a statement June 1, following Trump’s decision to begin the process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. As believers in, but not of, the world, we pursue a multifaceted approach to living out our faith – modeling good stewardship of God’s creation through faith, policy, service and change.

ELCA Advocacy also attended the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, earlier this month. Progress was made on continuing the implementation of the Paris Agreement in advance of the COP23 meeting in November. Some of the areas being negotiated include maintaining transparency, climate finance and incorporation of gender policies.

Lutheran Office for World Community, United Nations, New York, N.Y.

CLIMATE CHANGE, MIGRATION AND DISPLACEMENT – NEW PERSPECTIVES ON REGIONAL APPROACHES TO CLIMATE-INDUCED MIGRATION, DISPLACEMENT AND RELOCATION: On May 22 and 23, U.N. University hosted an event on climate change, migration and displacement. The panel was research-focused, including panelists with scholarly expertise on the issue.

One of the main messages was that seasonal migration is becoming long-term migration, while internal migration is becoming cross-border migration. There exists a vicious cycle between human displacement and environmental degradation. Professor Maxine Burkett, global fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, remarked that in her study of indigenous communities affected by climate change, the central tenant is  the community’s decision to migrate together, not as an individual or family decision. Dr. Susana Adamo, from the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University spoke of migration as a form of adaptation to climate change.

SECOND INFORMAL THEMATIC SESSION ON THE GLOBAL COMPACT ON MIGRATION: On May 22 and 23, member states held a second informal thematic session on: “addressing drivers of migration, including adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters and human-made crisis, through protection and assistance, sustainable development, poverty eradication, conflict prevention and resolution.” The session included robust participation by member states and members of civil society organizations.

The thematic session consisted of three panels: sustainable development and poverty eradication; human-made crisis as drivers of migration; and climate change as a driver of migration. An emphasis was put on the need for disaggregated data collection to influence global policy decisions and a need to revise national and international frameworks pertaining to migrants. Migration was emphasized as a vehicle for climate adaptation and development; while addressing the root causes of movement was the focus of many interventions. The ambassador of Finland reminded member states that neither the migration nor the refugee compact has a mandate to address the plight of internally displaced people, presenting a legal protection gap.

State Public Policy Offices

California - Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy.  Legislation to renew and update California’s climate change law has stalled, and the oil industry has launched a media campaign targeting swing legislators.

Colorado - Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry -- Colorado.  The Colorado General Assembly adjourned on May 10. Several LAM-CO supported bills were passed and signed by the governor, including HB 1116, Continue Low-Income Household Energy Assistance.

Minnesota - Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy--Minnesota.  The energy and environment bills in this legislative session took us backwards. Nevertheless, our advocacy combined with our partners, helped prevent some extremely harmful provisions, as the Environmental Quality Board was not eliminated and permit compliance is still under state regulation, rather than allowing polluters to police themselves.

Pennsylvania - Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy--Pennsylvania. Photo right: Bishop Samuel Zeiser, left, presents the “Serve. Pray. Speak” award to the Rev. Paul Metzloff for his advocacy on behalf of the people and environment of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod.

Southeastern Synod - Hilton Austin.  The synod Green Team had a pre-assembly workshop, an exhibit, and maintained a resource room throughout the synod's assembly.


Wisconsin - Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin.  LOPPW continues to work with the League of Conservation Voters and other groups advocating for a bill that would make it easier for public utilities to assist homeowners to remove lead from their pipes.

May 2017


CLIMATE CHANGE:
ELCA Advocacy co-hosted a joint Sending Prayer Service at the Lutheran Church of Reformation shortly before the 2017 Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, together with the United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ and Creation Justice Ministries. The D.C. Climate March brought together crowds in the tens of thousands who protested much of the current administration’s actions to roll back strategies against climate change and called for sustainable policies that support ecological justice.


UNITED NATIONS INDIGENOUS ISSUES
: The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues took place in the UN Headquarters from April 24th to May 5th. This year, the special theme was on the “Tenth Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Measures taken to implement the Declaration”. On Monday, May 2nd, Prairie Rose Seminole, ELCA Program Director of American Indian Alaska Native Ministries spoke at a Forum’s side event panel titled: “Climate Induced Displacement: Realities, Rights, and Responses”. Prairie Rose Seminole discussed the challenges faced by Native Alaskan communities whose land is being threatened by climate change. She outlined the lack of accessibility to public infrastructure that native communities face, and denounced the lack of resources for planned relocation from communities threatened by climate change. She discussed Native cultural identity tied to ancestral land, and the challenges to this identity posed by relocation due to climate change. She concluded by affirming Indigenous people’s role in the fight against climate change, as they are in the front-lines of climate induced displacement.

California - Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy:  
CARE FOR CREATION: The Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California is supporting legislation to address the need for safe, affordable water for drinking and hygiene. Affordability is a growing challenge. 

LOPP-CA was once again invited by the state Water Resources Control Board to have a display table at the CalEPA Earth Day Festival/Bring Your Kids to Work Day. Kids were invited to write notes to the kids in Shishmaref, Alaska, (March 31, Living Lutheran), whose homes are threatened by the rising sea level. 

A number of Lutherans participated in the March for Science and the People’s Climate March. LOPP-CA is hosting a breakfast at the Sierra Pacific Synod Assembly in Fresno, Voices and Visions in the Valley, with an attorney from the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, which is a lead organization in bringing $70 million of greenhouse gas reduction funds to the Fresno area through the Transformative Climate Communities Program. The program was created by legislation supported by LOPP-CA. Besides reducing carbon emissions, it seeks to reduce poverty and promote equity and public health.

Colorado - Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry -- Colorado:
BISHOP AT RED ROCKS: We were delighted to watch Bishop Jim Gonia preach to nearly 11,000 worshipers at Red Rocks on Easter morning. Way to go!

Wisconsin - Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin: CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION: The LOPPW/South-Central Synod Care for God’s Creation team members the Rev. Nick Utphall and the Rev. Mae Jean Zelle led a workshop on climate change for a Women of the ELCA conference and meteorologist Bob Lindmeier gave a presentation on climate change at a community-wide event in Walworth held at an ELCA congregation.

April 2017

CLIMATE CHANGE EXECUTIVE ORDER: On March 28, President Trump signed an executive order that calls for the review, repeal, or rescission of various Obama administration’s climate change initiatives, including rescinding the Climate Action Plan (and associated guidance/regulatory items implementing that Plan). This action will likely adversely impact our nation’s progress in combating climate change. The order also calls for the review of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) regulations which was a key part of the Climate Action Plan.

The implementation and objective of the CPP was a top ELCA Advocacy priority in 2014. Last month ELCA Advocacy released a statement on the executive order shortly after it was signed by the president. The statement encouraged the administration to re-examine its actions and remain true to its earlier stated commitments to stewardship, sustainability and justice.

Minnesota - Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy - MN: CLIMATE, HUNGER, AND CLEAN WATER:  For the Region 3 Hunger Event, Walhof facilitated Bible study sessions on words like dominion, earth keeping, and sabbath and led sessions on climate change basics and hunger, and to introduce LA-MN’s 2017 issue agenda. Ryan Cumming (ELCA World Hunger) introduced ELCA work on creation care, real stories about climate impact on poor people, and activities to increase understanding of climate impact on hunger. Walhof also worked with the Northeastern Minnesota Synod on their Water Summit and presented environmental issues happening at the state Legislature.

Pennsylvania - Tracy DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy - PA: March ended with DePasquale in Pipestem, W.V., connecting with ELCA pastors, bishops and advocates at the State of Appalachia Conference, organized by Creation Justice Ministries, to support the church’s response to the spiritual, health, economic and environmental  needs in that region. (Photo, right)


March 2017

METHANE WASTE STANDARDS: The new Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Methane Rule that was adopted last November has updated working standards and technologies for oil and gas companies on public land—helping better control methane pollution (a potent greenhouse gas). During the public comment period that led to the implementation of the Methane Rule, Lutherans across the country testified at public hearings in favor of the policy in 2015—citing health, community, moral and environmental concerns. But now, in the 115th Congress, lawmakers have prepared a bill that would overturn the methane rule. The methane repeal measure passed the House of Representatives in early February, and now makes its way to the Senate. ELCA Advocacy shared an action alert in support of the BLM Methane Rule, which now makes its way for a final vote in the Senate.

California - Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy: LOPP-CA co-sponsored the Green California Summit, and participants were motivated in call-and-response style by our luncheon speaker, civil rights and environmental justice leader Dolores Huerta. 

Wisconsin - Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin: CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION: LOPPW’s director and two volunteers will join groups from the Wisconsin Climate Table to meet with the Dane County supervisor about the county using more renewable energy. Our table is planning ways to make local impacts with partners in strategic parts of the state.

February 2017

U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SUPPORTS THE GREEN CLIMATE FUND: On Jan. 18th, just prior to the start of the Trump Administration, the U.S. State Department announced that it had provided an additional $500 million grant to support the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The Green Climate Fund is dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable around the world from the impacts of climate change. This latest decision came after thousands of Lutherans and other faith advocates voiced their support for the investment last year. As an ELCA Advocacy issue priority for 2015 and 2016, we celebrate the additional funding that the U.S. will contribute to the GCF, as it builds solidarity in our shared responsibility to care for creation.

State Public Policy Offices

California - Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office of Public Policy loppca.org  Mark will be attending the initial 2017 policy briefing by the CA Environmental Justice Alliance, and plans are firming up for LOPP-CA to be a host site, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, for the Trinity Institute, March 22-24: “Water Justice.” At the California Climate Change Symposium, state Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, a Lutheran, got the loudest applause on a panel that included the secretaries of the Resources Agency and CalEPA and the president of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), when she called on the hundreds gathered to defend science, and for scientists to stand up (the PUC chair said he feared a “federal lobotomy). LOPP-CA is promoting the March 11 annual Yolo Interfaith Climate Justice conference, keynoted by professor Cynthia Moe-Lobeda.

Colorado - Peter Severson, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry–Colorado Lam-co.org LAM-CO has endorsed several measures so far this session, including HB 17-1116, continuing an energy bill assistance program for low-income households.

Pennsylvania - Tracey DePasquale, Lutheran Advocacy–Pennsylvania Lutheranadvocacypa.org
LAMPa partnered with Pennsylvania Power & Light to promote vigils for climate change around the first 100 hours of the new administration. Among the congregations participating was St. Mark’s Lutheran in York (see picture below).

Wisconsin - Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin Loppw.org  
LOPPW’s director recently joined the leadership team for the Wisconsin Climate Table, which is made up of 28 organizations aligned behind four campaigns to diminish carbon dioxide emissions. LOPPW is part of the Clean Power Plan campaign. One of the members of the South-Central Synod/LOPPW Care for God’s Creation Team has become a regular speaker on climate change via the synod’s speaker’s bureau. We have begun strategizing approaching local municipalities about their policies on renewable energies. LOPPW is staying alert for bills that would weaken regulations on Wisconsin wells that, according to a state senator, are expected to be proposed this legislative session. LOPPW’s environmental focus is on climate change and clean water.

January 2017


CALIFORNIA: Mark Carlson, Lutheran Office for Public Policy - CA: With the conviction that science matters, LOPP-CA Director Mark Carlson will participate in the state-sponsored California Climate Change Symposium 2017 and is pitching to faith leaders opportunities to engage with the World Congress of Science Journalists in Oct. in San Francisco, “Bridging Science & Societies.” On Jan. 10, LOPP-CA was the site host for a Drought and Equity Summit to release a report developed by the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water and the Pacific Institute.

MINNESOTA: Tammy Walhof, Lutheran Advocacy - MN: Region 3 ELCA Hunger Retreat (for Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota) focused on care of creation, especially climate change and its impact on global poverty and hunger. Speakers include Dr. Ryan Cumming, program director for hunger education, ELCA World Hunger; and Tammy Walhof, director, Lutheran Advocacy-Minnesota, among others.  Friday, Feb. 3 noon lunch through Saturday, Feb. 4 after lunch.  Luther Crest Bible Camp, 8231 County Rd. 11 NE, Alexandria, MN 56308; Cost is $50. Scholarship information – the Rev. Erika Lehmann, elehmann@santel.net; registration – Kari Bostrom; General questions – Ed Payne, edpayne01@gmail.com

OHIO: Nick Bates, The Faith Coalition for the Common Good: In 2014, the Ohio Legislature passed a freeze of Ohio’s renewable energy standards. This was a major setback for clean energy job growth, congregations receiving assistance with energy audits, and Ohio’s commitment to environmental stewardship. The faith community fought this energy freeze. Retired Bishop Marcus Lohrmann and Trinity Seminary President Rick Barger wrote Legislature leadership, speeches were given, and rallies were held. Even after these efforts, the two-year energy freeze still passed. The Legislature attempted to extend the freeze by three more years, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed that legislation in the final hours of 2016! The advocacy work in 2014 – and continued since – laid the foundation for that veto. We rejoice!

WISCONSIN: Cindy Crane, Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW): CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION – WISCONSIN CLIMATE TABLE: Several Wisconsin groups that work on environmental issues held their first overnight retreat.

We began with a walk along the Ice Age Trail in Baraboo with a guided discussion about the noticeable changes in local wildlife over the last 100 years (See photos).

Dr. Curt Meine, an Aldo Leopold scholar and professor at UW-Madison talked about the importance of framing discussions about climate change within our history of Wisconsin conservationists and in a manner that doesn’t threaten to take away anyone’s pickup truck. Along with Aldo Leopold, we can
claim several other conservationists, such as Thomas Chamberlain, UW-Madison president (1887 to 1892), who was one of the first scientists to emphasize the role of carbon dioxide in regulating the earth’s temperature.

Meine shared the first time he heard climate change framed as a partisan issue. In 1988 he heardRush Limbaugh present “the other side” of the issue of climate change on “Nightline.” Since then we have gotten stuck in that narrative. But climate change isn’t something you believe or disbelieve in. You accept data or have alternative data.

At the Aldo Leopold Center, we strategized. Most of us do statewide work but within our current political climate, we will also focus on local efforts. The Lutheran LOPPW recently signed on to a joint letter about renewable energy to a county executive, who has now asked his staff to create an initial solar plan. LOPPW also integrates ideas for local grassroots efforts in our workshops.

December 2016

WATER JUSTICE IN FLINT:
Leaders in Congress seem intent on passing financial support for Flint, Mich., and other cities facing lead crises by the end of the year. Aid to help repair lead pipes and water infrastructure, which was included in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), has stalled in Congress due to an unrelated debate on the bill for Army Corps of Engineers projects. Republican and Democratic leaders are discussing ways to tack the support onto the final government spending bill. Advocates can take action on this issue by visiting ELCA.org/advocacy.

UNITED NATIONS CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Ruth Ivory-Moore, policy director for environment and energy issues, returned from Marrakech, Morocco, this month following the U.N. Climate Change Conference meeting. International delegates began the process of implementing the Paris Agreement. Ruth’s reflection series and commentary on faith-based involvement is on the ELCA Advocacy Blog.  Negotiators worked on issues such as common timeframes for national climate pledges and goals for financing climate projects. By the conclusion, there was an overwhelming sense of resolve that addressing climate change globally will occur and that the process will not be deterred by any individual country or head of state. The next conference will be in Bonn, Germany.

CALIFORNIA INTERFAITH POWER & LIGHT COOL CLIMATE AWARDS IN OAKLAND:
 One of the highlights of November was the always-inspiring California Interfaith Power & Light Cool Climate Awards in Oakland, which recognize congregations and individuals making a difference in addressing climate change.  Mark serves on the group’s steering committee, as do G.L. Hodge, a pastor in the Bayview-Hunters Point area of San Francisco, and Juana Torres, who works for the Sierra Club in Los Angeles and is an alum of California Lutheran University (photo).

PENNSYLVANIA:  LAMPa is encouraging host sites in every synod for Trinity Institute 2017, March 22-24, on the theme of water justice and will provide advocacy opportunities for those events. Also related to water issues, LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale has been invited to meet with natural resources, environmental protection and agriculture officials to shape policies around buffer zones that address economic sustainability and hunger.

Also in November, Tracey participated in the Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic Day of Dialogue in Harrisburg. The theme was “Rooted in Common Ground:  Our Universal Call to Care for Creation.”  It was a great opportunity to make connections with faith partners on climate change work in Pennsylvania.  She also attended Pennsylvania Power & Light’s annual conference in State College that linked climate justice and social justice, the Housing Alliance’s Homes Within Reach Conference. She has also been equipping congregations seeking information on offering sanctuary to immigrants facing possible deportation.

TEXAS: 
Climate advocates from Texas Impact and Texas Interfaith Power & Light participated in the 22nd annual United Nations global climate negotiations, known as COP22, in Marrakech, Morocco, last month. Leaders from more than 195 countries attended the Nov. 7-18 talks, which built upon progress made at 2015’s talks in Paris. Now that the Paris Agreement has been finalized, COP22, which has been named the “COP of Action,” focused on implementation.

This year, staff participated as credentialed observers of the negotiations: Texas Impact’s executive director, Bee Moorhead, and her daughter, Oona, were credentialed through the Presbyterian Church (USA); Imaad Kahn was credentialed through U.S. Climate Action Network and partnered on this initiative with Green Muslims; and Yaira Robinson attended under the auspices of COEJL (Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life).

Texas Impact staff had the pleasure of attending the event with Ruth Ivory-Moore, ELCA program director for environment and energy. They also connected with activists, scientists and religious leaders from around the world – bringing real-world climate justice stories home to Texas faith communities through videos, photos and blog posts in a special series called Bridge to a Bright Climate Future.”

WASHINGTON - ALLIES FOR NATIVE AMERICANS: In light of the 30th anniversary of a 1987 apology statement to area  American Indian tribes, Faith Action Network has been convening an Interfaith Allies group with the goal of building better relationships between tribes in our state and faith communities close to that particular tribe. This group has also been very active in networking with many religious leader trips to Standing Rock in North Dakota and doing advocacy here locally with elected officials, especially U.S. senators.

WISCONSIN - CARE FOR GOD’S CREATION: Meteorologist Bob Lindmeier drew more than 60 members of Luther Memorial in Madison to learn about climate change and actions to take.



November 2016

PARIS AGREEMENT UPDATE: The Paris Agreement will go into force on Nov. 4, years earlier than expected when it was adopted in December 2015. Ruth Ivory-Moore, the Environmental Policy Director for ELCA Advocacy, will be present at the United Nations COP 22 meeting that will discuss the next implementation steps for the agreement. Eighty-five countries already have ratified the agreement, and the United States also helped the United Nations reach agreement on other key measures addressing aviation emissions and hydrofluorocarbons coolants. The Paris Agreement sets a long-term goal of keeping post-industrial warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. The success of these negotiations means much work remains. 

October 2016

FLINT WATER AID MOVES IN CONGRESS:
 It has been nearly a year since Flint, Mich., declared a state of emergency over the lead contamination of its water supply. In late September, after a series of intense negotiations and hundreds of messages from Lutheran advocates, both the U.S. House and the Senate passed separate amendments to address the water needs of Flint. Both houses passed the GOP-sponsored Water Resources Development Act, a routine bill that authorizes dozens of water projects throughout the U.S., with funding for Flint included. Both versions of the bill must be reconciled when legislators return to Washington, D.C., in November, when it is expected to receive a speedy vote. ELCA Advocacy action alerts are planned for later this year to help push the bill to the president’s desk after Election Day.

SHISHMAREF: Shishmaref, Alaska, is an island village that has gained national attention for its historic decision to relocate. Residents were driven to this decision because of the unique and challenging circumstances of their environment. Climate change has led to increased flooding and erosion. As a result, Shishmaref is one of the most dramatic examples of a population affected by climate change. Find out more by reading the full article

September 2016

NATIONAL PARKS TURN 100 YEARS OLD: The National Park Service celebrated its centennial Aug. 25. President Barack Obama took the opportunity during this anniversary month to protect more than 87,500 acres of forests and streams in central Maine as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and to create the world’s largest marine protected area, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii. The president visited the Hawaiian monument on Sept. 1. Earlier in August, ELCA Advocacy joined an interfaith letter praising the national parks and initiatives to conserve God’s creation.


CARE FOR CREATION: Lutheran Office for Public Policy-CA was site host for the California Environmental Justice Coalition conference and lobby day opening dinner, which brought grassroots activists to the Capitol from some of the harder places in the state: Kettleman City, West Oakland, North Richmond, Bayview-Hunters Point, East Los Angeles, and Harbor Gateway. LOPP-CA will be site host for a dinner sponsored by the Pesticide Action Network for participants of a five-day Society of Environmental Journalists national conference.


July 2016

WELCOMING RUTH IVORY-MOORE TO THE ELCA ADVOCACY TEAM:
 ELCA Advocacy is delighted to introduce our new Program Director for Environment and Energy, Ruth Ivory-Moore. Ruth has had careers in chemical engineering, as a corporate legal counsel, and brings legal specialties including environmental law and climate change. Ruth is married and has two children.  She enjoys spending time with family (especially her two grandchildren) and friends. Ruth is involved with Christian education in her church and is about to embark on training to become a Stephen Minister.  Her other volunteer work includes chairing a young adult and youth leadership summit in southern Virginia, as well as addressing various community needs such as criminal law reform and health care.

GREEN CLIMATE FUND: The Senate Appropriations Committee recently voted to continue U.S. support for the Green Climate Fund. The fund is a top ELCA Advocacy priority because it dedicates a large percentage of resources to serve people already impacted by climate change. An ELCA advocacy alert was sent a day before the amendment vote and the ELCA Advocacy Office will continue to monitor the issue as it moves to the Senate and House.

June 2016

PRESSURE BUILDS ON FLINT, MICH: After months of divisive debate, members of Congress are still working to pass legislation to provide emergency aid for Flint, Mich. Flint’s residents have spent nearly three years dealing with lead contamination in their water. The U.S. Senate at the beginning of May proposed substantial federal funding for Flint in the draft Water Resources Development Act. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s, R-Okla., bill would enable federal resources to help Flint fix its failing water infrastructure and assist other cities facing similar crises. ELCA Advocacy sent an action alert on Flint in early May as President Obama was visiting the city, but action is still needed to prompt Congress to act. Take action now!

April 2016

METHANE STANDARDSELCA Advocacy announced support for a proposed methane standard. This long anticipated plan would help reduce natural gas waste on tribal and publicly owned lands. The proposal, created by the U.S. Department of the Interior, is expected to be approved by the end of this administration. If passed, the safer standard will help stop the frequency of dangerous methane leaks, which pollute communities, and will lessen our contributions to climate change. The proposal is open for public comments until Earth Day, April 22. 

March 2016

UPDATES AND ACTION ON FLINT, MICH.: Last month, the Rev. Jack Eggleston of the Southeast Michigan Synod shared his experience of visiting Flint, Mich., which has an ongoing water crisis. With some government support and generous response from the synod, ELCA World Hunger, and people around the ELCA, Salem Lutheran Church is now one of the largest distributors of fresh bottled water in the city. Michigan Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow and several Midwest Republicans have since proposed legislation that would procure funding for Flint and cities facing similar lead crises. You can take action on the Flint assistance bill at the ELCA Advocacy Action Center, and read the full version of Pastor Eggleston’s reflection at the ELCA Advocacy Blog. 

DPINGO BREIFING ON GLOBAL MIGRATIONOn Feb. 18, Nicholas Jaech of the Lutheran Office for World Community attended a briefing by the U.N. Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations on the current global migration crisis. This briefing aimed to educate NGOs on refugees fleeing conflict and war, but emphasis was also made on people displaced as a result of climate change and natural disasters.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees representative reiterated some sobering statistics: 60 million people are currently forcibly displaced, which is the highest number since World War II. In 2014, 42,500 people were forced to flee their homes every day, and there were a total of 13.9 million newly displaced people, which is four times higher than in 2013. The European Union representative noted Europe’s “legal and moral obligation” to provide protection to these refugees and called on the European Union to reform its migration management systems.

The UNICEF representative noted that of the 4.7 million refugees in Syria, half are children. She also noted that in 2015, 39,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the U.S./Mexico border. She outlined UNICEF’s support, including technical assistance for coordination, access to education, reuniting children with parents and psychological support for children.

February 2016

2016 ADVOCACY PRIORITIES: Now that lawmakers have planned their legislative agenda for 2016, ELCA Advocacy is excited to share our policy priorities for this fast-paced election year. We continue to strive for public policies that embody the biblical values of peacemaking, hospitality to our neighbors, care for creation, and concern for our brothers and sisters facing poverty and struggling with hunger and disease. In this election year, Members of Congress will want to pass legislation quickly and early to return to their districts in the summer to campaign with tangible policy results. Check out an overview our 2016 Advocacy priorities.

JUSTICE FOR FLINT, MICH.: Many residents in Flint, Michigan are unable to access safe water to drink, do their laundry, wash their dishes, or bathe. Lutheran congregations, volunteers, and local leaders are now working in Flint to help provide clean water for those in need. As ELCA World Hunger prepares to fund relief efforts, federal funding is critical to replace Flint’s toxic water pipes. Urge members of Congress to provide this funding by clicking here and find out more about Lutheran engagement at the Southeast Michigan Synod page

UN Feb 2016 number 2FOLLOW-UP AND REVIEW OF SUSTAINBLE DEVELOPMENT GOALSOn Thursday, Jan. 21, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released areport on the global follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Most importantly, this report highlights ways to “fully use the potential” of the next meeting of theHigh-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, scheduled for July 11-20. This report suggests four parts to the forum: a review of the progress in achieving the SDG, including voluntary national reviews by member states; a specific review of Goal 17, as well as other global partnership agreements, thematic reviews and emerging issues. The report also outlines two potential frameworks for SDG evaluation at all forums on sustainable development convened over the next 15 years. The first is a comprehensive review of all 17 goals to be completed within one year. The second option allows for a comprehensive review but also an in-depth review of each goal, covering all 17 goals within a four-year timespan. According to both options, however, Goal 17 will be evaluated each year. 

December 2015

COP21 ParisCOP21 PARIS: In the beginning of this month, 150 heads of state are gathering in Paris to negotiate an international agreement that addresses the global issue of climate change. President Obama gave remarks at the first session of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (#COP21), stating that, “the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other.” ELCA Advocacy Interim Director, Mary Minette, arrived in Paris on Saturday to participate in the summit on behalf of ACT Alliance. Mary is joined by a number of partners from ACT Alliance, World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation, as well as ecumenical partner church leaders. Visit the ELCA Advocacy blog to read the first update and keep up to date on the negotiations!  

LOWC December Update LenskiPRESENTATION ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE SDGs: On Nov. 5, Daniel Lenski (Lutheran Office for World Community) together with Lynnaia Main (The Episcopal Church) gave a presentation on the participation of civil society in the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a student seminar, organized by United Methodist Women. The students were from American University in Washington, D.C., and had a particular interest in the role of faith-based organizations within the U.N. system. Daniel also discussed the role of the LWF and the ELCA in the implementation of the goals.

November 2015

GREEN CLIMATE FUND: The congressional budget deal that passed in late October did not specifically allocate funds for the Green Climate Fund, so it is important that members of Congress, particularly senators, hear from constituents that a final bill to fund the government through the end of the 2016 fiscal year must include the $500 million requested for the U.S.’s initial contribution to the fund. ELCA Advocacy is working with a broad coalition of faith, development and environmental groups to advocate for the funding as an important aspect of our work to support the negotiation of a strong international climate change agreement in Paris in December.

PATH TO PARIS: Negotiators met for their final session prior to the December meeting in Paris in mid-October, and while 155 countries have so far come forward with pledges to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases beginning in 2020 as part of the new agreement, many significant issues are still undecided. These include details about financial support for emissions reductions and adapting to climate change in low-income countries, and how to deal with long-term losses that countries and communities are unable to manage or adapt to. In addition, non-governmental organizations were shut out of most of the negotiating sessions in Bonn, which does not bode well for a transparent and accountable end to the negotiations in Paris.

October 2015

LUTHERAN AND EPISCOPAL CHURCH LEADERS’ OPINION COLUMN FEATURED IN USA TODAY: Presiding Bishop Eaton joined leaders of Lutheran and Episcopal churches in Canada and the United States to write an opinion column on uniting to safeguard God’s Creation that was featured in USA Today on September 23. The church leaders described that “our traditions drive us to address the interrelated problems of climate change, environmental degradation, hunger and poverty… Though we represent different religious institutions, we share a common goal, and recognize that time is short to achieve it. We all know that to protect the poorest we must protect the climate.” This piece was published during Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. 

POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA; 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINBLE DEVELOPMENT: On 2015Update NY 3Sept. 25, more than 150 heads of state convened for the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 and adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Transforming Our World, which is “a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.” The Global Goals, as they are called in a recently launched campaign, consist of 17 new sustainable development goals and 169 targets. LOWC has been monitoring the negotiations and will continuing to follow the implementation phase including the development of target indicators by 2016 and the establishment of review mechanisms. 

September 2015

GOD’S WORK. OUR HANDS. OUR VOICES!: “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday is right around the corner! If your congregation is planning a day of volunteering in your community on Sept. 13, consider advocacy action as one of the ways to put your faith into action! This year, you can help start a letter writing campaign by printing out customizable letters to Congress. These letters will help advocate for justice by educating your representatives about an issue and showing your community’s commitment to compassionate values. Mail your letters to the D.C. Advocacy Office at 122 C Street NW, Suite 125 Washington, D.C. 20001—and we will deliver the letters in bulk to your members of Congress! Click the links below for letters that help support public programs:


August 2015

EPA CLEAN POWER PLAN ANNOUNCED: This week, President Obama unveiled details about a new EPA Clean Power Plan. The plan will work with states and industries to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and help combat climate change. Following the release of the rule, ELCA Advocacy’s new interim director, Mary Minette, released the following statement applauding the announcement:

"Reducing carbon emissions from power plants must be a top priority for the U.S. and the world if we hope to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and protect communities around the world.

The rule released today by the Environmental Protection Agency is a critical step in reaching that goal. It provides individual states the flexibility to implement the rule in ways that make the most sense for their economies and power needs while still reducing overall emissions and demonstrating our country’s leadership in combating climate change.

Climate change is already affecting all of us. Most importantly, it will cause countless problems for our children, our grandchildren, and our most vulnerable neighbors if we fail to take bold action now to curb its worst impacts. We have a moral obligation to leave our children a healthy and safe world, and to care for our neighbors. The rule released today is an important step on the path to meeting that obligation." 


July 2015

Vatican Encyclical “Laudato Si”:  On June 18 Vatican officials released “Laudato Si,” an encyclical letter on caring for creation. In the encyclical, Pope Francis I places a special emphasis on our moral obligation to address the growing threats to our world caused by climate change. Arriving shortly before the upcoming global climate summit in Paris, the pope’s encyclical affirms that climate change is largely a man-made dilemma, and is a principal challenge facing humanity today. Immediately after its release, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, praised the encyclical noting parallels to our own social statement “Caring for Creation.” Bishop Eaton also called for action to help less-privileged nations that must now face the most brutal effects of climate change.

The Endangered Species ActOn June 25, ELCA Environmental Policy Director Mary Minette was on a panel of experts about our moral obligation to care for creation by protecting endangered species. The event was attended by Senate and coalition-partner staff. In her message, Mary reaffirmed our religious calling to be stewards of nature by caring for creatures and the environments around them. To protect God’s creation, we must make environment-friendly choices as well as advocate for continuing the Endangered Species Act, which is, as Mary put it, “a modern-day Noah’s ark.”