Bill would help parishes, schools with environmental stewardship

Categories: Editorial

Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act is a small but helpful step for taking better care of God’s creation

Joe Towalski

Pope Francis’ new encyclical gives Catholics in the pews plenty to reflect on when it comes to the natural world and humanity’s place in it. “Laudato Si’” even includes practical suggestions for families who want to align themselves more closely with the values and principles it puts forward.


Joe Towalski

But caring properly “for our common home” involves more than individuals and families making good choices in how they treat the earth and each other. It also requires people of faith to advocate for public policies that benefit the common good on a broader level.

One such policy initiative that has garnered support from the U.S. bishops is the bipartisan Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act, which was introduced earlier this year in Congress by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Republican Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota.

The bill (S 600) would provide matching grants of up to $200,000 to help nonprofit organizations, including parishes and schools, to make energy-efficient improvements, save money and reduce their carbon footprints. Because nonprofits are tax-exempt, they don’t benefit currently from many energy support programs because the programs often involve some form of tax credits, Klobuchar’s office noted when the bill was introduced.

This legislation would help Catholic churches and schools to be better environmental stewards, and it is consistent with some of the needs Pope Francis identifies in his letter for “methods of construction and renovating buildings which improve their energy efficiency.”

The Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act is a small but helpful step for taking better care of God’s creation. Along the same lines, the U.S. bishops also support a national standard to limit carbon pollution from power plants and the international Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries to address the impact of climate change.

In his letter, Pope Francis also highlights the importance of citizens being active in the political process and holding lawmakers accountable. As Catholics we are obligated to participate in the political process and the formation of public policy that is consistent with the protection of human life and the common good.

The environmental initiatives supported by the bishops are consistent with these goals. They deserve our support and the support of our congressional representatives.