Alabama Officials Ask God to Block EPA Carbon Rules

PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, RNC Committeeman Paul Reynolds, PSC Commissioner Jeremy Oden and Commissioner-elect Chip Beeker at a press conference in which they voiced their opposition to new EPA rules limiting carbon emissions. (Stan Diel/
PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh, RNC Committeeman Paul Reynolds, PSC Commissioner Jeremy Oden and Commissioner-elect Chip Beeker at a press conference in which they voiced their opposition to new EPA rules limiting carbon emissions. (Stan Diel/

In an interesting take on the Christian environmental concepts of stewardship and resurrection, Alabama state officials urged the state’s residents to pray for divine intervention to block proposed federal regulations for coal-fired plants, saying such policies violate God’s laws. Chip Beeker, a Republican who is running unopposed for a Public Service Commission seat, said coal was created in Alabama by God and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God’s plan.

“Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” asked Beeker at a press conference on Monday at the offices of the Alabama Coal Association.

In June, the EPA announced its intent to implement new standards meant to curb “carbon pollution” from coal-fired power plants. Such emissions are not only among the biggest contributors to climate change, but also cause air and water pollution, as well as impacts to public health. And while Beeker may accuse President Obama of “taking” coal from the state, according to EPA documents, the proposal would only require Alabama to lower carbon emissions from its coal-fired plants by 27 percent from 2012 levels.

The threats posed by carbon pollution have actually caused religious organizations throughout the country to come out in favor of the proposed regulations. When they were first proposed, Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Director for Public Witness at the Presbyterian Church USA said, “today is a day to rejoice that the United States is taking a step toward limiting our detrimental contributions to global climate change.” Other religious groups, such as Interfaith Power & Light and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, were also quick to praise the EPA.

“I have been called by God to speak out on these issues and believe it is my conviction as an evangelical Christian that we must be stewards of God’s creation,” the Rev. Richard Cizik, a former top lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals and now president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, plans to say today at the EPA hearing in Washington, according to his prepared remarks.

Ignoring the call to stewardship and asking God to allow Alabama to continue to pollute the state, endanger the health of its residents, and contribute to climate change would be laughable if the article had appeared in The Onion. But the reality behind the situation is scary. When are people going to stop using religion to mask their real fears: change? In this case, the change is coming in the form of an economic transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a cleaner, green economy.

PSC Commissioner Jeremy Oden said he believes the EPA has dramatically underestimated the economic impact that the proposed regulations will have. There is a real concern about jobs and utility rates that should be addressed and discussed as any new federal regulation moves forward. Federal and state officials must think about steps to transition the economy so that people aren’t left out of work — a totally, doable proposition.

I propose we switch our prayer. Instead of praying that God allow us to continue to destroy creation, let’s pray for the wisdom to find the right balance between caring for creation and caring for all people. Let’s pray for the cooperation as we transition our economy from one dependent on fossil fuels to one with a greater variety of energy sources. And let’s pray for a future that is healthier and more peaceful.

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About the Author

I'm an organic-eating, energy-saving naturalist who composts and tree hugs in her spare time. I have a background in environmental law, lobbying, and field work. I believe in God; however, I do not call myself a Christian or a Jew or a member of any religion. I am merely someone who finds a spiritual connection to all humans and the environment. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .
  • Colin

    “Jesus said…Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32f, NIV)

    It Seems That The Last 2,000 Years Have Given Us A Very Long List of Very Dumb Christians…

    “Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?”
    — Commissioner-elect Chip Beeker

    Sigh. Shakes head and rolls eyes in disbelief and frustration. Please consider:

    “It is certainly worth observing that there are a number of scientific theories and techniques such as Copernican astronomy, surgical operations, and anaesthesia, which were one mistakenly declared to be inimical to the future of biblical religion.”
    — Dr. Bruce Milne
    Lecturer in Biblical and Historical Theology
    Spurgeon’s College, London, United Kingdom

    • Eden Keeper

      Yes, it’s important to remember that God gave us access to many harmful things — diseases, asbestos, and toxic mushrooms. Just because coal is there, doesn’t mean God wants us to use it the way we have.

  • Jane Cloud

    I’m christian and this is insane, how much is his part$$$?

    • Colin

      Sadly the extremely misguided Commissioner-elect Chip Beeker’s statements reflect badly on all sensible Christians.

    • Eden Keeper

      The fact that the news conference was held at the Alabama Coal Commission’s offices is good evidence that the statements were influenced by money rather than religious concern. Hopefully, other, more intelligent Christians, will stand up to his misguided remarks.

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