25 March 2009


When I was ordained to the Christian ministry I asked a trusted and wise elderly colleague to offer some words on ministry. The late Rev. Bob Newell looked at me and said "Look, there are too many problems in the world. You cannot solve them all. Instead, find one issue where you can make an impact and there invest your time and energy." The "issue" that spoke most to me was the protection of the environment. Water, Air, Earth the basic elements every living being must have for life and the elements we all have to share.

My late father was a natural environmentalist. When we would go trout fishing this time of year in the mountains, when there would still be a fresh layer of snow on the ground, he would always pick up the trash along the river bank. My memory of him doing such a small act made a large impact. Later on when the coal company bought our family farm and destroyed it the image of a once lovely place bleeding acidic ooze made a large impact too. I recall reading a line from a Philip Roth novel that childhood ends when you see your father cry. I remember seeing my father cry when we sold the last remnant of the farm, that impacted me too.

I mention all of this because yesterday the EPA issued two letters that ordered the cessation of all mountain top mining permits (issued by the Army Corps of Engineers). Were the letters smoke and mirrors from the Obama administration? I do not know. But I know they are a hopeful start.

“This is one of those things where I want science to help lead us,” Obama said. “I will tell you that there’s some pretty country up there that’s been torn up pretty good.

“I will also tell you that the environmental consequences of the runoff from some of these mountains can just be horrendous. … Not taking that into account because of short-term economic concerns, I think, is a mistake. I think we have to balance economic growth with good stewardship of the land God gave us.”
(President Barack Obama while talking to a reporter, Mr. James Carroll, from the Louisville Courier-Journal).

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