January 18, 2012
As people of faith, we are called to be good stewards of God’s creation. But how do we live out that calling in practical terms? Over the past eight years, a powerful approach has emerged in Washington State whereby the leadership of diverse environmental organizations come together to agree on just three or four policy goals for each legislative session. The name for this statewide effort is the Environmental Priorities Coalition. Uniting to promote a few critical bills has proven far more effective than bringing dozens of proposals, each backed by a small constituency.
Earth Ministry is the leading voice of the faith community within the Environmental Priorities Coalition. Therefore, we are delighted to welcome Earth Ministry’s Executive Director, LeeAnne Beres, to this week’s Forum. LeeAnne will discuss the history of the Coalition’s efforts, the process by which each year’s priorities are selected, and then delve into the vision and strategy behind this year’s priorities.
Given the current era of devastating budget cuts, two of the priorities are defensive in nature. “Pollution-Free Prosperity” seeks to prevent attacks on existing environmental programs and regulations. “Fulfill Our Clean Energy Initiative” seeks to preserve our state’s commitment to renewable energy targets as established in I-937, passed by Washington voters in 2006. These targets have both saved money and led to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions — one of the only bright spots in the climate policy arena. The third priority, “Toxic-Free Kids,” represents another step in a long-standing battle to eliminate toxic compounds from everyday products, with a focus on those that are known to harm children. In this arena, Washington State has played a leadership role in the past and could do so again with the passage of this legislation.
LeeAnne Beres is well qualified to explain these policies. She has a Master’s degree in Marine Fisheries Management from the University of Washington, a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Whitman College, and 20 years of experience working on environmental issues in the Seattle area. Prior to coming to Earth Ministry, she served as the Associate Director for Save Our Wild Salmon, Outreach Director of the NW Energy Coalition, and did organizing work with the Marine Fish Conservation Network and Greenpeace. She also survived two years working as a fisheries biologist on commercial fishing boats in the Bering Sea. She has been a board member of the Washington Environmental Council, the Washington Council of Trout Unlimited, and the NW Energy Coalition.
Earth Ministry is the recipient of a 2011 Inspiration Grant from Plymouth Church. This grant was awarded in honor of the many ways that Plymouth and Earth Ministry have partnered over the years and to encourage the deepening of that partnership in the years to come. Please come to the Forum this Sunday, January 22, 10:00 a.m. in the Lounge.
For further information see http://www.earthministry.org and http://environmentalpriorities.org/
—Tad Anderson, Adult Education Board
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