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April 26, 2012 - Image 69

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-04-26

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Commentary

Fostering both
energy independence
and environmental
stewardship.

T

he Coalition on the
Environment and Jewish
Life (COEJL) was formed in
1992 to address humanity's loom-
ing environmental crises. As we
embrace Earth Day, now 20 years
later, it is common knowledge that
many of these crises are a result
of our reliance on fossil fuels for
energy.
When thinking about how to solve
this problem, we reflect on the
diverse priorities within the Jewish

community while taking
into consideration our
shared environmental prin-
ciples.
We want to foster energy
independence and still pro-
tect the environment for
ourselves and for future
generations. At the upcom-
ing annual meeting of our
parent organization, the
Jewish Council for Public
Affairs (JCPA), the mutual-
ity of these values
will be put to the
test as the member
agencies consider a
NEGOTIATIONS
resolution on hydrau-
lic fracturing (hydro-
fracking).
Hydrofracking is
the extraction of
natural gas from pre-
viously inaccessible
gas-shale deposits
by fracturing a rock
layer, and it has the
potential to yield
significant environ-
mental, economic and
national security ben-
efits. Increased use
BY THE TICKING
of natural gas can
OF THE IRANIAN
reduce our depen-
BOMB IN THE
dence on coal, while
ROOM.
increased domestic-
oil and natural-gas
liquid production
from shale can
reduce our depen-
dence on imported
oil.

Dry Bones

However, there also
are serious concerns
about known and as-
yet-unknown impacts.
Environmental and
quality-of-life issues asso-
ciated with hydrofrack-
ing include surface and
groundwater contamina-
tion, odors and air emis-
sions, human and envi-
ronmental health effects,
visual blight, noise pollu-
tion, earthquakes and depletion of
water sources, among others.
Our organizations support expan-
sion of America's energy infrastruc-
ture with sensitivity to our natural
environment. The resolution before
us lays out the advantages and dis-
advantages of hydrofracking and
calls for support of regulations,
policies and research to limit its
environmental and health impacts.
COEJL has played a key role in
helping our colleagues bring this
resolution to the floor. At the heart
of our discussions is the ideological
question of how best to protect the
environment, continue and increase
access to energy, and reduce our
reliance on fossil fuel. From the
universal goal of a safer home for
humanity, to the particular goal of
geopolitical security and protection
of Israel as our unique homeland,
the issue touches on a common
theme that Jews who care about
social change frequently encounter.
Can we advocate both?
Our answer, of course, is yes. Not
only can we advocate for both univer-

sal protection of our planet and par-
ticular protection of our security — we
also must. There is no other option.
Some will disagree. They either
call for a full moratorium and the
absolute banning of hydrofrack-
ing or think that security for Israel
and energy independence should
empower us to drill everything and
everywhere. We hope that there's a
safer way to extract natural gas and
will search for it.
While supporting efforts to
increase cleaner supplies of renew-
able energy, wO understand our con-
tinued reliance on fossil fuel sources.
But we cannot do so without rigor-
ous regulation and transparency.
A balance of our political and
environmental needs is built into
our Judaism. In Hebrew, the word
for Earth, adamah, and the word for
humankind, adam, are integrally con-
nected. Our obligation to both runs
deep, and that's why an integrated
approach is critical. We must hold
both human security, environmental
protection and energy independence
in our minds and our hearts as the
Jewish community votes on shared
policy priorities at the JCPA Plenum
in Detroit.

Sybil Sanchez is director of the New York-

based Coalition on the Environment

and Jewish Life.

standing
guard

For Israel
And Our Jewish
Community

S..

A monthly average of more than 60
rockets has been fired into Israel
from Gaza so far this year, with more
than 200 fired over the March 10-11
weekend. The newly deployed Iron
Dome missile defense system, jointly
developed by the U.S. and Israel and
funded with bipartisan approval by
Congress, has saved many Israeli lives.
Write to your member of Congress and
thank him/her for their support.

Prepared by Allan Gale, Jewish
Community Relations Council of
Metropolitan Detroit

® April 26, 2012, Jewish Renaissance Media

April 26 ' 2012

45

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