The Climate crisis is a moral crisis — Clean Fuels offers a healing solution
by Rev. Richard Jaech, Bishop, SW Washington Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
As the Bishop of the Southwestern Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I see the climate crisis as a moral crisis. We are failing in our duty to care for the land, water, and air entrusted to us. Plus, our current patterns of pollution harm marginalized members of the human family most and perpetuate injustice. We must do better.
The 88 congregations I serve across the region are working to integrate environmental sustainability and stewardship into the lives of our communities. Grounded in our Christian faith, we know that our response to our changing climate is not only a matter of survival, but also an ethical responsibility. We are doing what we can to reduce pollution and support clean energy, and we call on our state legislators to do their part, too.
The legislature stands on the precipice of finalizing a clean fuel standard, HB 1091.Both chambers have passed this important bill that will reduce pollution in the transportation sector and it is now going through the concurrence and conference part of the process. Enacting this policy in its strongest form is crucial for both climate action and community health.
A clean fuel standard will set us on a path toward a 20% reduction in the carbon intensity of transportation fuels by the year 2035. We will achieve this goal by holding fuel producers accountable for cleaning up their product and creating opportunities for innovation in clean fuels.
Transportation is our largest source of climate pollution in Washington. Therefore, it makes sense to prioritize this sector as we work to meet our state’s emission reduction goals. Each investment we make in reducing pollution today is a gift to generations tomorrow.
A clean fuels standard will not only help heal our climate in the long term, but also save lives in the here and now. The Washington State Environmental Health Disparities Map clearly shows that pollution is concentrated near traffic and freight corridors, particularly along I-5, which increases health risks for those who live nearby. This map shows that Vancouver, my home for 26 years, is a pollution hotspot. Cleaning up tailpipe emissions from vehicles is an essential way to show love and compassion toward those who are suffering most.
The Christian community is now in the Easter season and the Jewish community recently observed Passover. I am mindful that this season calls us to let go of our old ways and to live more fully into our values. With the climate crisis, our values of justice, stewardship, and responsibility are central guides to how we should treat Earth and one another. In this spirit, we are to co-create new life for our families, communities, and creation itself.
A clean fuel standard is a wise response to our moral imperative to care for creation and improve human health. We’ve seen it work elsewhere — Oregon’s program is working so well that it is now being expanded. With the support of many people of faith across Southwest Washington, I call on the state legislature to pass this tested and effective policy that will clean our air, provide more options to fuel our vehicles, create economic opportunities, and cut climate pollution. Passing a clean fuel standard is simply the right thing to do.