Turning the Tables on Big Oil

Who would have thought that a handful of Montana youth could successfully win their day in court and against Big Oil at that? But then, every once in a while, the young Davids of this world triumph over behemoths like Goliath. Now, other states are looking to these youth and their strategy as a blueprint.  

Does this mean fossil fuel is on its way out? Hardly. The clash between conservative ideologues seeking to shield fossil fuel industries from climate action and those advocating for renewable energy to limit the amount of carbon pumped into the atmosphere continues unabated. As with Texas, oil is considered the “lifeblood” of Montana’s economy…even though the state has warmed faster than the national average, heating up to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950. [1] Nevertheless:

Montana has never denied a fossil fuel permit, whether for extraction, transportation, or burning fossil fuels. In a 2022 debate, then-candidate Ryan Zinke, now a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, proudly said he wanted no part of the clean energy transition… During this winter’s legislative session, state lawmakers tried to ban teaching scientific theories in K-12 education. They passed new laws that blocked cities from making policies that would encourage non-fossil energy sources. [2]

What these youths did and continue to lobby for is profound, which makes it all the more imperative that the rest of us support their efforts by continuing to press onward for a healthier and greener world. It isn’t just up to the young. They can’t do it on their own, nor should they. The peril of ecological devastation falls more heavily on them while inflicting future generations.  We all have work to do. We must join hands and do all we can to save our planet and God’s beloved Creation. As it is often said, “This is the only home we’ve got.”

Prayer: In your providence, Divine Creator, instill within us the conviction that the best way to cope with climate grief is to do what we can when we can, despite the obstacles and inevitable setbacks. Teach us to stand in solidarity with our children and youth, those of this generation and the next. Grant us your vision of hope; we pray so as to be faithful till the end. We ask this in all the holy names of God. Amen.

[1] Even a 1.8% increase in temperature spells trouble for our climate: imhttps://www.climate.gov/news-features/climate-qa/global-warming-18%C2%B0-f-1%C2%B0-c-seems-small-so-why-change-global-temperature

[2] https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2023/06/inside-the-unexpectedly-wild-landmark-montana-youth-climate-trial/

[3] On this 9/11 anniversary,  we hold dear the memory of all those who lost their lives while carrying the hope for a saner and more compassionate world.   

Author: Jessica McArdle

These are dark and corrosive times. As a writer and ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, I use prayer, poetry, reflection, and scripture to re-align our embattled spirits with the uniqueness and urgency of our God-given identity and call.

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