Addressing Energy Policy


In your editorial about the tragic Gulf of Mexico oil spill, you neglect to mention that several Jewish organizations are responding to the spill as part of their work on energy policy (“Oil Spill Reveals Crude Conundrum,” May 28). My organization, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), issues regular updates about the spill. Jewish Funds for Justice has set up a fund for those communities most affected. The Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement (the RAC) is blogging about it. The Shalom Center is also calling for action. Several Jewish environmental groups are planning to do related action and advocacy around Tisha b’Av.

Reaction to the Gulf is multifold. Most immediate is concern for unemployed fishermen and depleted fish stock, the economy of an area already hard-hit by Hurricane Katrina, oil-covered precious wildlife and tarballs on shorelines, plus the serious lapses in regulation and judgment that are increasingly apparent.

Any policy response to this most tragic symbol of our unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels is necessarily complex. We must do everything possible to increase our energy independence and security by committing to a clean-energy, green-job economy.

Recently, due to the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ leadership, 18 Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and AIPAC, signed a major New York Times ad emphasizing that fact.

Further, COEJL, the JCPA, the RAC and others have been very attentive to the recent attempt at such legislation by Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, and also spoke out on recent policy changes by the current administration.

Along with focusing on political advocacy in response to the spill, we must also continue becoming more efficient in what we consume. In recent years, COEJL has helped hundreds of congregations switch to using compact fluorescent light bulbs. Currently, we are running the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign, which engages all institutions of Jewish life in committing to living more efficiently so we can all do our part to prevent such future tragedies. We invite The Jewish Week and all of its readers to sign our pledge at and join us as we do more together as Jews to get efficiently energized!

Director, COEJL