Local efforts through Interfaith Power and Light offer a religious response to energy change, Jon Brockopp of Interfaith Power and Light said.
Sylvia Neely, who oversees the Penn State chapter of IPL, said the important thing about IPL is that it is not a policy-making group and members are not bringing forward specific bills or acts government should take.
“We’re telling people to look at the larger picture,” Neely said. “We believe it’s our obligations for future generations and God’s creation.”
Interfaith Power and Light was established in 1998 with the help of Episcopal Power and Light. In 2000, California Power and Light joined in, and IPL grew larger. In February 2010, IPL at Penn State became an official student group. IPL works closely with churches of different faiths in the area, not only to talk about energy issues, but also to make their own congregations more energy efficient.
Brockopp, also a Penn State associate professor of history and religious studies, said the group thinks coal production is a dirtier process than natural gas, but the extraction of Marcellus Shale should be more of a part of the overall strategy of switching to a more energy-efficient fuel.
“We think that natural gas is a transition fuel,” Brockopp said.
About a week ago, the IPL held a press conference at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center about the IPL’s ethical and moral take on Marcellus Shale, including its effects on poverty and social injustices, global climate change and distortions to our political systems.
“If it becomes one more fossil fuel, that becomes a problem,” said Brockopp.
According to IPL’s ethical analysis, the group believes the extraction method is the most important, including taxing shale extraction. The use of natural gas could be a component of an overall strategy to move away from fossil fuels in general, with substantial investment from a proportion of impact taxes going into the development of clean, sustainable energy sources, the analysis stated.
Along with taxing the extraction of the shale, the IPL said they believe money and political distortions have been a problem within drilling activities. According to the analysis, the IPL asks politicians to refuse any monetary contributions from companies involved in the exploration, drilling, production and sale of natural gas.
Brockopp said looking at the Marcellus Shale from an ethical standpoint would help with the boom and bust cycle that may occur with the shale, as well as the impact of greenhouse gases on the environment. The other right that Pennsylvanians have, Brockopp said, is the right to clean air, clean water and the aesthetic beauty to the natural environment.
“This is a conservative point of view, because we are talking about conserving resources for the future,” Neely said. “We’re going to run out of fossil fuel, we need to start protecting it now.”