Franciscan Tar Sands Testimony

Fr. Jacek and other faith leaders present a petition to the State Department

Fr. Jacek joins faith leaders to present 1,269 signatures to Dr. Kerri Ann Jones at the State Department

On Oct. 7, 2011, FAN member Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM (Holy Name Province) delivered the following remarks at a State Department hearing on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline: 

My name is Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM and I am representing Franciscan Action Network, which is a leading Franciscan voice in the U.S. advocating for social and environmental justice.  I’m also representing here the National Interfaith Power and Light.

Both of these organizations oppose granting the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. We find this project morally indefensible. The tar sands pipeline will lead to a massive expansion of the extraction of the non-conventional fossil fuels. This is very dangerous move. Our prolonged addiction to dirty fossil fuels has put us on the cusp of radical and irreversible changes to earth’s atmosphere. We already witness glaciers melting, sea level rising, intense storms, floods, draughts, millions of people being displaced, and the rapid loss of biodiversity. The survival of billions of people is at stake. Also, as much as half of the Earth’s species can we wiped out by the end of this century.

There is another reason why the tar sands pipeline is morally inexcusable: It will endanger the indigenous communities, threaten one of the largest aquifers on our continent and imperil the lives of the people that depend on it. Also, it is the poor, the vulnerable and the voiceless that are bearing the brunt of the global climate change that would be exacerbated by a full-scale tar sands operation.

According to the UN Development Program, up to 332 million people in coastal and low-lying areas globally could be displaced through increased flooding and tropical storm activity. Yields from rain-fed agriculture in some African countries could be reduced by up to 50%. Around the globe, as many as 600 million additional people could face malnutrition and hunger. Approving the Keystone XL Pipeline runs the risk of condemning the poorest of the world to desperate struggle for food and survival.

The Franciscan tradition holds up the sacredness of all life. God’s creation has a profound value and meaning. We humans share with the rest of God’s creation not only the common origin but also a destiny. The Judeo-Christian tradition teaches us that human family can find true peace and security when we live together as brothers and sisters, in integrity, justice, and harmony with the earth.

A debate over the Keystone XL Pipeline ought to be informed by the values of love, solidarity, a special concern for the poor and most vulnerable, and the common good of all God’s creation.

The Keystone XL Project is being framed as a solution to America’s energy needs that could spur job creation. It is a dangerous mirage. The economy exists within the limits of the natural world. We can’t defy the laws of nature that underlie the climate science. Yes, we do need more jobs, but jobs that would move us toward real solutions. We should be building windmills, not pipelines.

God has gifted humanity with goodness, the vision and an amazing capacity for ingenuity. Let’s dare to tap into that huge pool of energy and harness it for the common good.

On behalf of the Franciscan Action Network and the National Interfaith Power, and Light, I urge the State Department and President Obama to deny the permit for the tar sands pipeline. Prolonging our deadly addiction to dirty fossil fuels will be devastating: for life on our planet, for people and economy. This is immoral and NOT in the national interest of the United States.

Watch Fr. Jacek’s testimony
(Note: Please skip to the 01:45:05 mark to see his testimony.)


Published in: on October 15, 2011 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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