citizens of the Cedar Valley address the proposal for a coal burning power plant

Waterloo, Iowa

City Council meeting

May 7, 2007




c e d a r v a l l e y s p e a k s

Group 5

6. Rev. Benjamin Webb, pastor and Cedar Valley resident, Cedar Falls

We delude ourselves if we think we are here today merely to vote in favor of assuring the City its tax revenues from a coal plant we think others have already approved or inevitably will. This will be a vote either for or against a pulverized coal plant, as it is every step of the way.

Just a few years ago we made these decisions with ignorance about their consequences. We can no longer claim ignorance in the face of widespread knowledge about global warming and its primary sources. We now know that we are simply overwhelming our planet by burning too much fossil fuel, including coal.

The relationship we now see between global warming and the accumulation of all this heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere is so clear and serious that it is causing the rapid meltdown of our massive ice sheets at both poles, along with a host of other weather-related effects.

That’s why more and more religious and corporate leaders (including those in the energy sector), along with the Supreme Court, the UN Security Council, the US military, and both Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress are speaking out and looking for ways to cap carbon emissions.

So everything has suddenly changed, and these decisions now have great moral weight. These are moral decisions resting on every community, economic developer and elected leader who must cast a vote…either for short-term self-interest that dangerously de-stabilizes the climate, or for the common good that demonstrates our care for the health of the global commons on which our lives and economy ultimately depend.

Your decisions today are as grave as any we’ve ever faced in this country or world. Unless or until we have a way to capture and store carbon, which is by no means guaranteed, every community needs to stand strong and put new coal plants on hold.

A NO vote sends a creative message to business, industry and government that we expect better solutions in supplying energy and creating jobs and want to participate in those solutions. A NO also sends a moral message that we can no longer afford to increase carbon emissions and lay a still heavier burden on this generation and those to come, or make things even worse by failing to act now.

If you vote YES for this plant, a day may come when your children ask, “What on earth were you thinking?” In fact a day may come, much sooner than we think, when our support of this plant proves to be one of the most lamented decisions of our lives.

I’m aware there is a lot of city power concentrated in this room. I’m also aware there is a great deal of power accumulating high overhead that trumps the power in this room.

Vote NO. Rest well tonight. And give the upper atmosphere a chance to heal.