Tag Archives: Environment
Robb Kushner

Why Fracking Gives Me the Heebie Jeebies

By Robb Kushner

I grew up in the heyday of the American post-war boom, when the sky was the limit, and exploitation of fossil fuels was the key to an ever-expanding future. The suburbs were being rolled out everywhere, and the Interstate highway system held the amazing promise of driving from New York to LA without ever stopping at a traffic light. And I remember my parents would say, “Now you’re cooking with gas!” when they wanted to encourage me.

In my adulthood, I’ve come to realize – bit by bit – how we need to be good stewards of the environment – that our future on the planet depends on it. We now know climate change is happening much faster than scientists had predicted. In order to “defuse the global warming time bomb” (in the phrase of climate scientist James Hansen), we must reduce carbon emissions around the world soon or risk the devastating effects of rising seas, more acidic oceans, accelerated species extinction, and more frequent and violent weather events. Read more…

Climate summit banner

Climate Conversations: The UN GLOBE Climate Summit

“The planet is warming at an alarming rate. There is no emergency room for sick planets. We have to engage in the preventative care that makes it possible to avoid the worst, most catastrophic effects of climate change.”Senator Markey at the GLOBE Climate Legislation Summit

Last week public officials and leaders from over 50 countries came together in Washington, D.C. for the 2nd GLOBE Climate Legislation Summit hosted by longtime environmental advocate, Senator Ed Markey. The goal of the summit was to discuss how legislators can best develop, pass and implement national laws on climate change and forestry. Participating legislators also discussed the potential for international agreements in anticipation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Paris in 2015. Read more…

frackimg well

Cracking Down on Fracking

Last week, President Obama’s administration moved to address the serious concern of potential water contamination through the controversial extractive process of hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, also referred to “hydrofracking” and “fracking,” is a process of drilling wells deep into the ground and injecting water, sand and potentially dangerous chemicals to rupture the earth and extract natural gas. While there remain unanswered questions surrounding the technique of hydrofracking, in about 2% of fracking wells, diesel is pumped into the ground as part of the rupturing chemicals and there remains no question that diesel, as a cancer causing fossil fuel, poses significant threats to the safety and well-being of the environment and people.

Since Congress passed the 2005 Energy Policy Act, the EPA has held the authority to regulate the use of diesel in fracking through granting permits, but prior to the Obama administration’s motion to exert more control last week, it appears these regulations have not been enforced. Read more…

keystone XL pipeline

Update on Keystone XL Pipeline

At the end of January, the State Department released a report that could potentially push President Obama’s approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline would transport a low grade, impure form of crude petroleum from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries in Oklahoma and Texas. While the State Department officials reported that the pipeline project would not have a negative impact on the environment, for years, environmentalists have argued to the contrary.

Consider the facts. The pipeline would produce 830,000 barrels of oil, which would add anywhere between an extra 1.3 million to 27.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere each year. This is approximately the equivalent of the CO2 that would be emitted by 250,000 to 5 million cars on the road. These numbers are staggering, but the report from the State Department says that if the Keystone XL were not built to carry oil, railroads would be–actually increasing emissions because of the diesel fuel and electricity needed to transport the oil by train or truck. However, the report also acknowledges that the tar sands oil produces significantly more emissions than standard methods of drilling. Read more…

Barbara Weinstein

CSA Director Barbara Weinstein Testifies in Support of New EPA Carbon Pollution Standards

Barbara Weinstein: “These proposed standards reflect our nation’s commitment to combating climate change, which is not just an environmental challenge, but one of the greatest social justice challenges of our time.”

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 6, 2014—In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed strict limits to carbon emissions from new power plants. Speaking today at the EPA public hearing on the Carbon Pollution Standards, Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and the Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, submitted the following testimony:

I’m Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, which advocates on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 900 congregations across North America include 1.3 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2000 Reform rabbis. Thank you for the opportunity to speak in support of the EPA’s proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for new power plants. These proposed standards reflect our nation’s commitment to combating climate change, which is not just an environmental challenge, but one of the greatest social justice challenges of our time. Read more…


GreenFaith Webinar: Jewish Teaching on the Environment

As stewards of the Earth, we have a responsibility to commit ourselves to protecting the environment and combating the effects of climate change on three levels: through individual actions, through communal behavior and through advocacy efforts.

Over the last few years, through the Religious Action Center’s partnership with GreenFaith, we have been able to improve our impact on the environment and address the threat of climate change on all three of these levels.

GreenFaith is an interfaith organization that helps congregations green their buildings, engage in environmental activism and create educational initiatives. GreenFaith has partnered with seven URJ congregations fulfilling the Jewish obligation to the environment, “to till and tend” (Genesis 2:15). GreenFaith offers a two-year congregational certification program, opportunities to engage in a weekend of environmental activities through their shield certifications, and many resources for synagogues. Read more…

The Power of Pete

By Barbara Lerman-Golomb

Pete Seeger will forever be referred to as a legend. The word legend is defined as “a person whose fame or notoriety makes him a source of exaggerated or romanticized tales or exploits.” But there was nothing exaggerated about Pete Seeger. He was the real deal. In fact, Pete was something much greater than a legend. He was an engaged citizen who believed individuals taking action, even on the smallest level, could save the world. Pete believed in the power of the people.  Read more…

President Obama speaks

#SOTU: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

This post is part of a  series on the RAC’s expectations and hopes for President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 28th.

Tonight during the State of the Union address, there is no doubt President Obama will mention his continued goals in fully enacting and enforcing his historic Climate Action Plan. While we commend the President on prioritizing climate action, since he announced his plan in June, the implementation of climate change curbing policies have hit many speed bumps and road blocks. Tonight, we hope President Obama will strongly reaffirm his commitment to the environment and combating climate change.

In 2009, President Obama established a carbon pollution reduction goal with the hope of lowing the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions level by 2020 to be 17 percent below the level in 2005. While ambitious, drastically reducing pollution by 2020 would be a huge step towards tackling the impact of climate change. Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA will establish a final rule on carbon pollution standards from new power plants by June of this year. Further, in the context of new international climate agreements to be finalized in 2015, we hope the President will make mention of the United States’ (and all of the major world economies’) responsibility to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Read more…