Climate Justice

Saint Paul’s Climate Justice Team is responsible for this portion of the website.  Below you will find a Lent Carbon Reduction Calendar for 2024.  Following the calendar is a description of what has been accomplished by our congregation as part of an initiative to plant and water new carbon absorbing trees (47 so far) in a neighborhood in south central Lincoln. After that is a listing of the climate-related bills currently before the Nebraska Legislature; included are bills carried over from the 2023 session and new bills introduced this year.

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy recently completed and submitted to EPA a Priority Climate Action Plan for the state.  A brief description of that plan and a link to the plan itself is available under the heading “The Priority Climate Action Plan for the State of Nebraska.” Finally, this portion of the website has a brief description of what is contained in the Inflation Reduction Act related to climate change.  A link in that section will take you to a more detailed description of the act and a listing of the many resources that are available to individuals and houses of worship to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

2024 Lenten Carbon Reduction Calendar

We hope that you chose to review the calendar throughout Lent and that it provided you with insights into how you can reduce your carbon footprint now and in the future. Doing so will help reduce damage to God’s creation and help to overcome the injustice inherent in climate change. The calendar will remain here at least for a while so feel free to check it for ideas about how to continue your quest for ways to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.

God’s Tree-mendous Creation

Thank you Saint Paul!

On a gorgeous, sun-filled Fall Sunday in October 2022, over 30 members of our Saint Paul family gathered to celebrate and plant trees around the Peach Park neighborhood. The event, sponsored by SPUMC’s Climate Justice Team was held following morning church services, where planters and trees were blessed. Sack lunches were provided by the Near South Neighborhood Association, and master tree planter, Mark Wilson, provided instruction to the Discovery Kids (and adults) on the best planting methods for long-term tree success… then the SPUMC teams went to work, planting the first 10 of 37 high-quality trees provided by Saint Paul Church. The balance of the trees were planted by Great Plains Nursery the following Monday. Most gratifying were the connections made with neighbors, who asked to water and care for their tree, and they wanted to know a little more about SPUMC. Something more than simply tree roots may have been planted.

The tree planting effort continued in the fall of 2023 when ten more trees were planted in the same general neighborhood in south central Lincoln.  Those new trees were provided free by the Nebraska Forest Service and were planted by members of the congregation with help again from the Great Plains nursery.  Most of the total of the 47 trees planted thus far are being watered by members of the congregation.

Thanks go out to the City of Lincoln, the Nebraska Forestry Service, the State Arboretum, the Near South Neighborhood Association, and most of all… our Saint Paul family who provided both monetary support and labor for this project. You are a blessing! Our last task, no small one, is to keep those trees alive and well. If you are interested in adopting a tree to provide financial or labor support of watering, please contact the church at 402-477-6951, or our tree watering coordinator, Reed Olson, at reedolson87@gmail.com.

Additional Climate Justice Opportunities

The 2024 session of the Nebraska Legislature concluded on April 18. Three of the bills previously covered here (LBs 399, 1368 and 1370) passed using their original bill numbers. Two bills (LBs 1072 and 1218) were combined with other unrelated bills using different bill numbers and were adopted. None of the other bills previously addressed in this website (LR21 and LBs 49, 255, 541, 566, 599, 1119, 1140, 1179, 1234, 1244, and 1369) were adopted; they were therefore indefinitely postponed at the end of the session. To be considered again they will have to be reintroduced in a future legislative session. Information about those bills or any others can be found on the legislature’s website: nebraskalegislature.gov.

Bills Adopted During the 2024 Legislative Session:

LB399: This bill has been adopted and approved by the Governor. In its final form the bill requires that a private electric supplier (not the public suppliers we now have in the state) can only generate electricity using wind, solar, or other renewable sources. If any electric supplier plans to build a new electric generation facility with a capacity of more than 10 megawatts on land it does not own, it shall first file an application for approval with the Power Review Board and hold a public meeting. A summary of the results of that meeting would be provided to the Power Review board before it approves or denies the application. Similarly, if any private electric supplier plans to build a new renewable electric generation facility with more than 10 megawatts capacity it will need to hold a public meeting and provide the results to the PRB. Approval by the board is not required for such renewable energy facilities if the private electric supplier holds the required meeting and complies with other statutory requirements.

LB1072: This bill did not pass with this bill number, but the subject of the bill was incorporated in LB937, a bill containing a number of tax provisions. It has been signed by the Governor. As adopted and beginning on January 1, 2027, a producer of sustainable aviation fuel will be eligible for an annual income tax credit of 75 cents per gallon of such fuel produced. To qualify for that tax credit, the fuel must produce at least 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum-based jet fuel. The tax credit can only be claimed for up to five years and will only be available in any given year for up to a total of $500,000 for all credits claimed.

LB1218: While this bill did not pass with this bill number, it was effectively incorporated into LB1317, a 155 page omnibus bill containing several subjects. That bill has been signed by the Governor and, because it had the emergency clause, it took effect on April 15, 2024 except as otherwise provided in the act. The provisions of that bill that apply to electric vehicles are slightly different from the original 1218. Beginning January 1, 2025, a fee of $150 is to be charged on the registration of a vehicle powered by an alternative fuel, including an electric-only vehicle. For an alternative-fueled motorcycle or a plug-in hybrid that fee is reduced to $75. Beginning January 1, 2028, an excise tax of 3 cents per kilowatt-hour is to be charged whenever an EV is being charged at a commercial charging station. LB1317 also addresses the location and operation of electric vehicle charging stations by electric suppliers that are in the business of supplying, producing, or distributing electricity in the state for wholesale or retail, e.g. NPPD, OPPD, LES, etc. The term “electric supplier” does not include a private person or privately owned business. Until December 31, 2027, an electric supplier as defined above, shall not develop, own, maintain or operate a direct-current, fast charging electric charging station within 15 miles of a privately owned commercial direct-current electric charging station. Beginning January 1, 2028, that prohibited distance is reduced to 10 miles.

LB1368: Introduced by Senator Ibach and others—This bill established the Nitrogen Reduction Incentive Act.  It provides for a program to be administered by the Dept. of Natural Resources in coordination with NRDs to “provide incentives to farmers to reduce use of commercial fertilizers and to incorporate innovative technology into farming practices, including proper use of biological nitrogen products.” $5M would serve as a cap on how much could be spent each year. The bill was adopted and has been signed by the Governor.

LB1370: Introduced by Senator Bostelman and 24 others; After significant amendments to the original bill, this bill was adopted and has been signed by the Governor.  In its adopted form it deals with the decommissioning of dispatchable electric generation facilities with a generation capacity of more than 100 megawatts.  Dispatchable electric generation facilities are those that can increase or decrease their output on demand, as opposed to those that cannot reliably do so such as solar and wind.  Notice to the Power Review Board is required before any such decommissioning.  As part of the notice to the board the applicant must address several items, such as the effect on employees, etc.  An amendment proposed by Senator Blood would have required an additional item, which was to quantify the “amount of greenhouse gas emission reductions or other environmental benefits the power company expects to achieve by closing or decommissioning the facility” but that language was not included in the adopted version of the bill.  Whether or not the PWB holds a hearing it is required to issue a non-binding advisory opinion regarding the proposed decommissioning.

On March 1, 2024 the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy submitted a Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP) for the State of Nebraska to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NDEE developed the plan using a $3 million grant from funds provided by the federal Inflation Reduction Act. The plan was completed after a number of outreach meetings, one of which was in Lincoln. As noted by NDEE director Jim Macy, the plan “focuses on voluntary, incentive-based programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all economic sectors while promoting environmental stewardship and economic growth throughout the state, including low-income and disadvantaged communities.” Many of the incentives proposed by the PCAP are intended to reduce GHGs resulting from agricultural activities which are calculated to produce 42% of the GHGs attributable to Nebraska, but incentives are also planned for non-agricultural purposes. The plan as submitted is reviewable at http://dee.ne.gov/ndeqprog.nsf/onweb/cprg, If the browser you first use blocks the download as being insecure, try another browser. The plan is accessible using Mozilla Firefox. Also, now that the PCAP has been completed and submitted, Nebraska can request federal funds for implementation of that plan. The state will also begin preparation of a “Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP) which is due by August 2025.

  1. 25 Steps to Lower CO2 Emissions – The organization called Cool Congregations, the same organization that recognized Saint Paul both nationally and at the state level for our God’s Tree-mendous Tree Project, has produced a very informative 2-page list of 25 steps costing less than $25 that we can take to lower our CO2 emissions. 
  2. Tax Credits Another very informative product is produced by the Citizen’s Climate Lobby.  It lists in brief the several tax credits and discounts available specifically to homeowners and renters as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act.
  3. Effects of Climate Change on Human Health—The Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World Herald had identical articles on Sunday, February 19, 2023 about the adverse, but too often overlooked, effects of climate change on human health.  The following link is to the Journal Star article. https://journalstar.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/health-matters/health-matters-climate-change-already-impacting-nebraskans-health/article_2b99e666-ab83-5d77-b4c2-d38e9fc593ac.html
  4. Decoding the Weather Machine – A documentary outlining what is happening scientifically to our planet because of the addition of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere and what options exist for reducing the increases in global warming.
  5. SojoAction Christians and Climate Q&A – This resource aims to demystify the topic of climate change and clarify the call to take action for climate justice. Designed for Christians of all backgrounds, it addresses the most common questions and concerns we hear about the climate crisis and provides clear steps for action.
  6. “Earthrise” by Amanda Gorman – A poem recited by National Youth Poet Laureate.
  7. Climate Change Books
    The following are recommended as sources of information that will further explain climate change and its impacts:
    1. David Attenborough’s book entitled “A Life on our Planet” was the subject of a class led by David Lux in 2023.  In that book the author testifies to how rapidly and dramatically he has seen life on our planet change in the more than 90 years of his lifetime.  He also offers ideas for how we could reverse those changes.
    2. The book serving as the basis for a class led this year by David Lux is entitled “Not Too Late” by Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua.  It is subtitled “Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility.”  That subtitle sums up the message of the book which contains essays by a number of authors about how we need to have hope that climate change can be reduced and how we need to turn that hope into action.
    3. Bill Gates book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” not only describes the nature and extent of the climate challenge ahead of us, but also the technological obstacles that must be overcome to meet those challenges.
    4. “The Future We Choose” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac describes what we can expect in the future (2050) if we alternatively do or do not do anything to stop emitting greenhouse gases.  
    5. A short 112 page book that includes speeches by Greta Thunberg, the remarkable Swedish teenager who has gained worldwide acclaim for her advocacy for climate change action is titled “No One is Too Small to Make a Difference.”
    6. A slightly different twist on the environmental challenges ahead can be found in Doug Tallamy’s book “Nature’s Best Hope, A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Backyard.”  In that book the author explains how important insects and plants, especially the native plants that support the insects, are essential to the continued existence of our ecosystems.
    7. Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an internationally recognized climate scientist, is the author of a book entitled “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.”  In that book Dr. Hayhoe explains how we can more easily start and have conversations with others about climate change.
  8. The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) produces a new report each year. The 2023 report released in March emphasizes the need for urgent climate action and describes how the most vulnerable global populations are the most at risk from current and increasing impacts of climate change. It also suggests that global resources are sufficient to prevent climate change catastrophes if the political will is present. Both a four-page press release about the new report and the report’s summary for policymakers can be found by searching for IPCC 2023 report.
  9.  For information on the sources and proportions of greenhouses gases in our atmosphere, take a look at: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions
  10. To calculate your own carbon footprint and see which of your activities are causing the most emissions, do the fun activity found at: https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator.
  11. To learn about emissions globally, by type of gas being emitted, by economic sector and by country, see: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data.
  12. Arguments are still being made about whether electric vehicles result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions when their manufacture and disposal are also considered.  For an excellent article about how much lower emissions are with an EV, read: https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/07/electric-cars-have-much-lower-life-cycle-emissions-new-study-confirms/ An even more recent analysis of the greenhouse gas emission differences between fossil fueled and electric vehicles can be found at https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/driving-cleaner
  13. A blog about plastic bags and the damage they cause can be seen at: https://blog.padi.com/2017/03/27/7-facts-plastic-bags-will-change-way-use/.
  14. An article about divestment in fossil fuels in the New Yorker magazine can be found at: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-powerful-new-financial-argument-for-fossil-fuel-divestment.
  15. Composting of food waste and other organic materials is another way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The City of Lincoln’s website has several items of interest about composting including how to do it ourselves and what is available commercially in that regard.  It can be easily accessed by going to: https://www.lincoln.ne.gov/home and by searching for “compost.”  The UNL Extension Service also has made a lot of helpful information about composting available at: https://extension.unl.edu and by searching for “compost” there as well.

Climate Change Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

In 2022, Congress adopted, and President Biden signed, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.  The act has provisions relating to many subjects, but those intended to address climate change are the most extensive.  According to a summary of the act, it will put the U.S. on a path to a roughly 40% emissions reduction by 2030 and represents the single biggest climate investments in U.S. history, by far.  An abbreviated summary of the claimed benefits of the act is found below.  A more detailed summary can be found at: https://earthjustice.org/brief/2022/what-the-inflation-reduction-act-means-for-climate 

An abbreviated summary of the claimed benefits of the act. 

  1. Lowers energy costs for Americans through policies that will lower prices at the pump and on electricity bills, help consumers afford technologies that will lower emissions and energy prices, and reduce costs that would otherwise be passed on to them.
  2. Increases American energy security through policies to support energy reliability and cleaner production coupled with historic investments in American clean energy manufacturing to lessen our reliance on China, ensuring the transition to a clean economy creates millions of American manufacturing jobs, and is powered by American-made clean technologies.
  3. Invests in decarbonizing all sectors of the economy through targeted federal support of innovative climate solutions.
  4. Focuses investments into disadvantaged communities to ensure that communities that are too-often left behind will share in the benefits of the transition to a clean economy.
  5. Supports resilient rural communities by investing in farmers and forestland owners to be part of growing climate solutions, and by ensuring rural communities are able to better adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

Saint Paul Justice & Mercy Team FAQ

  • Presence at the state capital for justice gatherings on topics such as immigration and racial injustice
  • Representation on community partnership boards working for justice
  • Speakers, classes and forums to educate on justice issues
  • Preaching justice
  • SP supports (financially and through participation) the Interfaith Peacemaking Coalition yearly workshop.
  • We have placed yard signs in member’s homes which address justice issues to let community know we are sharing God’s Love for all in acts of justice.

We have gained new members through our efforts at justice as people have seen our witness with PRIDE festival and our rainbow banners outside the church.  Each have told stories of their previous exile from churches due to homophobic or shame-based theology.  They have found new life and new connection to God through the welcoming of Saint Paul UMC.

  • Saint Paul has undergone a new visioning process with the guidance of the Unstuck Church Group.  One of the areas of our focus for growth is in Mercy and Justice.  We have formed a strategic planning team which will be leading the congregation into greater justice-centered mission practices.
  • We will begin with a foundation of deepening our own understanding of lovingkindness. All justice work must be grounded in love (open hearts).
  • Next we will educate ourselves and the congregation around justice and the biblical mandate (open minds).
  • Finally, we will go forward into the world beyond our doors to do acts of justice (open doors).

Our strategic planning team has identified three areas for our focus:  racial justice, ecological justice, and health care.  Each of these areas will be resourced and ministry teams will be formed to engage the congregation in love, education and action. We will schedule our efforts strategically by launching one at a time and building support before adding the next.