Blackhawk Presbytery of northern Illinois passed a resolution June 4 to endorse the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) now before the U.S. House of Representatives. There are 72 Presbyterian churches represented in this presbytery, a member of the national Presbyterian organization PC(USA). Blackhawk Presbytery is west of the Chicago Presbytery in an area from Oswego to Galena.
The proposal to endorse the bill came from Blackhawk’s Earth Care Network having members from three churches – Oswego Presbyterian Church, Ridgefield/Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church and Second/First Church of Rockford. Their spokesman was Ken Mozingo of Oswego Presbyterian. The proposal was based on the recognition that climate change likely is causing 400,000 deaths annually and is mostly caused by CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
Mozingo showed pictures of people in northern Kenya standing in line to receive foodstuffs purchased by Blackhawk Presbytery’s “Coins for Kenya” donations. He noted these people have been suffering from a record-long nine-year drought. And such extreme droughts near the equator are consistent with climate scientist’s global warming predictions.
“Donations of foodstuffs are very much needed, but they will not solve the real problem which is climate change,” Mozingo said. He quoted Rev. Joseph Mburu, a spokesman for Imenti Presbytery, Blackhawk’s Kenyan partner: “Climatic change has really affected us. Emission of carbon should be controlled at all cost and by all means possible. The voice of the church should be at the forefront here.”
“Climate change is not a just a political issue,” Mozingo said. “The deaths of 400,000 people per year is definitely an issue for the church. Presbyterians need to acknowledge our moral mandate to advocate for action to solve the climate crisis.”
He noted that the national organization PC(USA) released a statement in December 2018 calling for urgent action to confront climate change by supporting the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend bill. He asked that Blackhawk Presbytery also sign on as an endorser of the bill and the resolution to endorse was passed.
The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend bill was originally introduced in November 2018 by two Republicans and three Democrats. Its sponsors were adamant that climate change needs a bipartisan solution with broad support of the people. The bill will impose gradually increasing carbon fees at the fossil fuel sources. This “price on carbon” should then stimulate rapid transition to renewable energy in a free-market manner.
The sponsors also insisted that the bill should be revenue-neutral with the carbon fees returned in equal dividends to the American people. “The people, not the government, will receive and choose how to spend the revenues. This is important to the more conservative constituents,” said Mozingo.
More about the bill can be found at energyinnovationact.com.