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Mass. Interfaith Power & Light
14 Collins Road
Waban, MA 02468

Phone: 617-244-0755


GreenUp and Faith

Go green

Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light (MIP&L), as part of our mission to promote environmental stewardship in the community of faith, is trying to get the word out about the GreenUp program of National Grid (NGRID). How does this work for MIP&L, your congregation, and what does this have to do with faith? Please see the individual questions and answers below.

Why is Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light getting involved in the GreenUp program?

Simply put, because this is a wonderful opportunity for environmental stewardship – for stewardship of the earth, of creation. Our mission to promote and improve the environmental stewardship of the community of faith leads us to spread the word about the GreenUp program. This is the first time that Massachusetts residents have been able to select renewable electricity directly through their utility bills, and we believe that people of faith will want to know about it and participate.

What does GreenUp and have to do with faith?

To answer this, we will draw on the "Sermon in a Nutshell" of MIP&L co-founder Steve MacAusland (adaptation below):

"As people of faith, we are all called in different ways to love our God and to love our neighbors. We are now discussing renewable energy. What is the connection?

"After love, it is energy that makes the world go 'round. Everything we do uses energy, and the energy industry has helped to make this country great. Unfortunately, our energy dependence has produced some very serious side effects.

"Do we love our neighbors – or respect their inherent worth and dignity – when our use of electricity seriously impacts the health of the poor who have no choice but to live in the shadow of coal burning power plants? Do we love our neighbors when our consumption of foreign oil contributes significantly to conflict around the world? And do we love our neighbors when our emission of greenhouse gasses changes the very climate on this fragile earth, our island home?

"The community of faith has always led in the great movements for justice. We led in the abolition of slavery. We led in the movement for women's rights. We led in the struggle for civil rights, and we continue to lead in the effort to remove the curse of racism from this land. Now it is time for us to respect the dignity of every human being and all life on earth. Let us begin by addressing our consumption of energy.

"It is time to practice what we preach and to show forth not only with our lips, but also in our lives. It is time for the community of faith to practice energy conservation, invest in energy efficiency, and thus save more than enough money to afford cleaner sources of renewable energy.

"This is not just a ministry for the environment, but also a ministry of love and justice for all our neighbors across town, around the world, and our intergenerational neighbors – our children – for years to come. The community of faith has an historic opportunity to lead the way.

What does this have to do with helping oppressed people, including poor people and people of color?

In many ways, the most threatened of earth's creatures today are poor humans. Poor people are much more immediately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change than wealthy people. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ross Gelbspan notes that "Enhanced carbon dioxide ... will decimate food crop growth in the tropical latitudes where the majority of the world's poorest and hungriest people live," to give just one example.

Right along with this economic-based environmental injustice, there is also environmental racism. Communities of color and low-income communities have less power to resist the location of undesirable land use, such as toxic waste and power plants, in their neighborhoods. Low-income communities and communities of color have had the fewest resources – whether legal, medical, educational, financial, or political – to confront environmental threats.

Three different studies of national scope (including the United Church of Christ's Commission on Racial Justice) found that race is the single most influential factor in the placement of hazardous waste facilities and in community exposure to pollution.

To give one local example of environmental racism, within a 2 1/2 mile radius centered on Lawrence, MA, a city composed of 60% people of color, three waste incinerators account for more than 40% of all the trash burned in this state. (Source: Alternatives for Community and Environment.)

Clearly, fighting for environmental justice is an appropriate goal for the community of faith. In fact, it is morally incumbent upon us to fight for environmental justice. Encouraging the growth of renewable, clean electric sources – and stopping our dependence on dirty, fossil fuel-burning power plants that are disproportionately located in poor communities and communities of color – is an important start. The GreenUp program is an important step in this direction.

What else can I do?

  1. Encourage your friends, neighbors and co-workers to enroll in GreenUp.
  2. Encourage your friends, neighbors and co-workers to have their congregations become MIP&L members.




Mass. Interfaith Power & Light is a non-profit organization that provides a religious response to climate change. Our mission is to: Assist faith communities, their members and the public to decrease their carbon dioxide emissions & energy costs; educate people on why climate change is a matter of morality and justice; and advocate for policies that will lead to a sustainable future.