Climate Justice

Saint Paul’s Climate Justice Team is responsible for this portion of the website.  Below you will find a new Lent Carbon Reduction Calendar for 2024.  This is the fourth year that the team has prepared such a calendar.  Following the calendar is a description of what has been accomplished by our congregation as part of an initiative to plant and water new carbon absorbing trees (47 so far) in a neighborhood in south central Lincoln. After that is a listing of the climate-related bills currently before the Nebraska Legislature; included are bills carried over from the 2023 session and new bills introduced this year. Following the description of legislative bills is an opportunity to click on “Climate Change Resources.” There you can find all sorts of references to websites, books, and other references that help us understand the causes for and consequences of climate change and what can be done to counter those causes and effects. The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy has just completed and submitted to EPA a Priority Climate Action Plan for the state.  A brief description of that plan and a link to the plan itself is available under the heading “The Priority Climate Action Plan for the State of Nebraska.” Finally, this portion of the website has a brief description of what is contained in the Inflation Reduction Act related to climate change.  A link in that section will take you to a more detailed description of the act and a listing of the many resources that are available to individuals and houses of worship to help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

2024 Lenten Carbon Reduction Calendar

We hope that you will chose to review the calendar throughout Lent and that it will provided you with insights into how you can reduce your carbon footprint now and in the future. Doing so will help reduce damage to God’s creation and help to overcome the injustice inherent in climate change. The calendar will remain here at least for a while so feel free to check it for ideas about how to continue your quest for ways to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.

God’s Tree-mendous Creation

Thank you Saint Paul!

On a gorgeous, sun-filled Fall Sunday in October 2022, over 30 members of our Saint Paul family gathered to celebrate and plant trees around the Peach Park neighborhood. The event, sponsored by SPUMC’s Climate Justice Team was held following morning church services, where planters and trees were blessed. Sack lunches were provided by the Near South Neighborhood Association, and master tree planter, Mark Wilson, provided instruction to the Discovery Kids (and adults) on the best planting methods for long-term tree success… then the SPUMC teams went to work, planting the first 10 of 37 high-quality trees provided by Saint Paul Church. The balance of the trees were planted by Great Plains Nursery the following Monday. Most gratifying were the connections made with neighbors, who asked to water and care for their tree, and they wanted to know a little more about SPUMC. Something more than simply tree roots may have been planted.

The tree planting effort continued in the fall of 2023 when ten more trees were planted in the same general neighborhood in south central Lincoln.  Those new trees were provided free by the Nebraska Forest Service and were planted by members of the congregation with help again from the Great Plains nursery.  Most of the total of the 47 trees planted thus far are being watered by members of the congregation.

Thanks go out to the City of Lincoln, the Nebraska Forestry Service, the State Arboretum, the Near South Neighborhood Association, and most of all… our Saint Paul family who provided both monetary support and labor for this project. You are a blessing! Our last task, no small one, is to keep those trees alive and well. If you are interested in adopting a tree to provide financial or labor support of watering, please contact the church at 402-477-6951, or our tree watering coordinator, Reed Olson, at [email protected].

Additional Climate Justice Opportunities

The Nebraska Legislature has only a few working days in April to finish its business before final adjournment on April 18. None of the bills that relate to climate change and that have been addressed on this website have passed, nor have any been indefinitely postponed. The current status of those bills is provided below; that status will be updated on a weekly basis.

Bills Carried Over from the 2023 Session:

LR21: Introduced by Senators Brewer and Erdman—this resolution proposes that sustainable nuclear energy is needed in Nebraska to augment fossil fuel and renewable energy generation.  If adopted it would establish a special committee to be known as the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Study Committee to study the feasibility of constructing and operating small modular nuclear reactors to generate power in Nebraska.  The committee would be made up of several of the legislative committee chairs and an undetermined number of additional members of the Legislature.  When the study is completed the committee is to make a report to the Legislature, but no timeline for doing that is specified. On General File for 2024.

LB49: Introduced by Senator Dungan—this bill would amend existing statutes relating to solar energy to allow cities and counties to adopt regulations prohibiting vegetation that would interfere with a solar energy facility’s right to direct sunlight.  It would also make void and unenforceable land use covenants, including those by HOA’s, and similar instruments that prohibit the installation or use of a solar energy collector or solar energy system.  HOA’s could also not charge a homeowner any fee for the placement of any solar energy collector or solar energy system. Held over in the Judiciary Committee.

LB255: Introduced by Brewer and Erdman—this bill would prohibit Omaha, Lincoln, NPPD, OPPD and LES, from using eminent domain to acquire any property for the purpose of constructing or operating a renewable energy generation facility producing electricity with wind or solar energy.  It would impose the same restrictions on what are currently considered privately developed facilities if the ownership of those private entities includes any of the public entities noted above.  NPPD, OPPD and LES would also be prohibited from entering into any new C-BED project (community based energy developments that are designed to produce energy from wind, solar, biomass or landfill gases) after the effective date of the act if that project is to generate electricity using wind or solar energy.  They could also not use the power of eminent domain to acquire any existing C-BED project or related facilities.  Finally, NPPD, OPPD, and LES could no longer file an application with the Power Review Board for new projects that would produce electricity using wind or solar energy. Held over in the Natural Resources Committee.

LB399: The bill has been advanced to Select File with amendments. Those amendments would require that a private electric supplier (not the public suppliers we now have in the state) could only generate electricity using wind, solar or other renewable sources. If that supplier planned to build a new generation facility with more that 10 megawatts of capacity it would first have to have a hearing where comments could be received from the public.

LB541: Introduced by Senator Lowe—This bill, which Senator Lowe has made his priority bill for this year, was not included in last year’s summaries as it did not appear to be directly relevant to climate change.  As originally introduced it provided for the election of all board members of public power districts and irrigation districts to be elected on a partisan ballot.  Under current law all those offices are listed on the non-partisan ballot.  However, the bill was advanced from general file to the second level of floor debate by a vote of 29 to 16 after an amendment which makes it applicable only to board members of NPPD and OPPD.   The bill is being included now because of the reason Senator Lowe has given as its purpose.  He said it is necessary because too much out-of-state money is being spent on candidates for those offices who support renewable energy and claimed that “by making elections to NPPD and OPPD partisan, candidates could show voters 99% of what they need to know about how a candidate would govern.” On Select File with numerous pending motions to recommit the bill to committee or to lengthen the debate long enough to require a vote on cloture.

LB566: Introduced by Bostelman—LB566 would require the Natural Resources Committee to study “the economic impacts of an increasing reliance on an intermittent renewable energy generation approach to the generation of electricity in Nebraska.”  The committee’s report, including recommendations, would be submitted to the legislature by November 15, 2023.  The bill has the emergency clause so that it would become effective, if adopted, with the Governor’s signature. On General File for 2024.

LB599: Introduced by Armendariz—this bill relates to regulatory authority over “advanced recycling facilities” pursuant to the Integrated Solid Waste Management Act (ISWMA) administered by the NE Department of the Environment and Energy.  Advanced recycling is a “process for the conversion of post-use polymers and recovered feedstocks into raw materials, feedstocks, chemicals, and other products through processes that include pyrolysis, gasification, depolymerization, catalytic cracking, reforming, hydrogenation, solvolysis, chemolysis (terms that are defined by the bill) and other similar technologies.  I do not know the differences between those processes, but I do know that pyrolysis is an option for converting into usable products the types of hard-to-recycle plastics that can be placed in the Hefty orange energy bags. Here in Lincoln, Uribe Refuse is at least one refuse hauler who will collect those orange bags.  Advanced recycling facilities have not previously been subject to the ISWMA.  The bill would also provide that capital assistance for advanced recycling facilities could be provided from the state’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Incentive Fund. On General File for 2024. Proposed committee amendments would require any advanced recycling facility to properly dispose of post-use polymers or recovered feedstocks within 60 days of that facility ceasing operations.

New Bills Introduced in 2024:

LB1072: Introduced by Senator Dungan—This bill provides for a sales and use tax credit of $1.50 per gallon for the purchase of sustainable aviation fuel.  If enacted the bill would be in place for slightly more than 10 years starting on October 1, 2024.  What constitutes “sustainable aviation fuel” is defined differently for the periods up to 6-1-2028 and after that date.  For the later period, the fuel would qualify as sustainable only if it’s use resulted in at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to petroleum-based jet fuel.  Referred to the Revenue Committee; hearing held on January 25. Senator Dungan has offered amendments to the definitions in the bill, but those do not change the overall purpose of the bill.

LB1119: Introduced by Senator Dungan—This bill would allow applicable zoning and regulatory entities to grant a variance to any limitations posed by its ordinances on the installation and use of solar energy and wind energy as long as any such waiver would not constitute a substantial detriment to the public good.  It would also prohibit HOAs from prohibiting the installation and use of solar or wind power systems and from assessing any fee on properties for which such systems have been installed.  Referred to Judiciary Committee; hearing held on January 25.  

LB1140: Introduced by Senators Erdman and Halloran—This bill would have made it unlawful and a Class IV felony to: (a) transport carbon dioxide through a gas pipeline anywhere within the State of Nebraska or (b) store carbon dioxide in any kind of underground geologic apparatus within the state.  Originally referred to the Natural Resources Committee but Senator Erdman has already withdrawn it from legislative consideration.

LB1179: Introduced by Senators Wishart and Ballard—This bill would appropriate $1.2M to the Dept. of Natural Resources to allow that Dept. to make a grant to the Lower Platte South NRD to use for high priority flood control projects.  Referred to the Appropriations Committee; hearing held on February 2.

LB1218: Introduced by Senator Bostar—A modified version of last year’s LB505, which was indefinitely postponed, this bill would require the collection of an excise tax of 3 cents per kilowatt-hour on the electric energy used to charge a battery of an EV or plug-in hybrid at a commercial electric vehicle charging station, which such station could only be used to charge electric vehicles and which could charge customers on the basis of kilowatt hours consumed.  The bill would also allow but limit the extent to which electric suppliers (e.g. NPPD, LES, OPPD, etc.) could install and operate commercial charging stations.  Those entities could not install a charging station within 15 miles of an existing commercial station.  Also, if an electric supplier proposes to install a charging station outside of that then current 15 mile range it would first have to advertise its intent to do so.  A commercial station operator could respond by indicating that it will install such a station within the area proposed by the electric supplier.  The electric supplier would then be prohibited from installing its proposed station unless the commercial operator failed to follow through on its intent.  Referred to the Revenue Committee; hearing held on February 22. While the bill is still in committee, Senator Erdman has proposed an amendment that would require that all components of a commercial electric vehicle charging station or of a fast-charging station must be produced, manufactured, and assembled in the U.S. in order to be eligible for any program funds from the state of Nebraska.

LB1234: Introduced by Senator Wayne—This bill would provide $1M each year for the current fiscal year and for FY2024-2025 to the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy for the “Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program to aid in carrying out energy efficiency audits and weatherization improvements.”  The bill has the emergency clause, so if adopted, it would take effect when signed by the governor. Referred to the Appropriations Committee; hearing held on February 2. The FY 2023-2024 budget adopted last year does provide $100,000 for this program for both the current fiscal year and the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2024.

LB1244: Introduced by Senator McDonnell—This bill would appropriate $34.08M of federal coronavirus funds to the Department of Natural Resources to provide the Papio Missouri NRD with funds for “vital flood control projects” in that NRD.  The bill has the emergency clause so it would take effect when signed.  Referred to the Appropriations Committee; hearing held on February 21.

LB1368: Introduced by Senator Ibach and others—This bill would establish the Nitrogen Reduction Incentive Act.  It provides for a program to be administered by the Dept. of Natural Resources in coordination with NRDs to “provide incentives to farmers to reduce use of commercial fertilizers and to incorporate innovative technology into farming practices, including proper use of biological nitrogen products.”  Also expressed in the bill is the intent to appropriate $5M for FY 2024-25 to DNR for the program.  That same $5M would serve as a cap on how much could be spent each year. The bill has been advanced to Enrollment and Review Final.  Those amendments added details about how the bill is to be implemented but did not change the overall purpose of the bill which is to incentivize agricultural reductions in the use of nitrogen fertilizer. 

LB1369: Introduced by Senator J. Cavanaugh—The purpose of this bill is to prohibit any local electric distribution utility from denying or refusing interconnection between its local distribution system and an agricultural self-generating facility which has a rated capacity of 100 kwh or less and which produces energy using methane, wind, solar, biomass, hydropower or geothermal resources as its energy source.  Referred to the Natural Resources Committee; Placed on General File.

LB1370; Introduced by Senator Bostelman and 24 others— In its original form, this bill would have required that before an electric supplier could retire an electric generation facility that uses hydropower, coal, natural gas, hydrogen or nuclear power to produce electricity, that supplier would have to first certify to the Nebraska Power Review Board that it has placed on the state’s electric grid another generation facility of one of those same kinds listed above (in other words, not including solar or wind) and that the replacement facility has an equal or greater nameplate capacity to the one being retired. Advanced to Select File with amendments that were proposed by the Natural Resources Committee. Those amendments struck the original language of the bill and replaced it with new language that has a totally different purpose from the original. The new language provides that before an electric supplier decides to close or decommission a dispatchable electric generation facility with a capacity of 100 megawatts or more, it would need to inform the Power Review Board of that intent. That board would then hold a closed hearing regarding such proposed closing and would later issue an advisory opinion about such closure. Unlike the original bill, there is no requirement that non-wind and non-solar generation facilities being retired would have to be replaced with new facilities of like kind. Senator Blood has proposed a new amendment to require that the Power Review Board hearing would be open to the public rather than closed. Her amendment would also add a list of five permissible topics for testimony at that hearing, one of which would be “the amount of greenhouse gas emission reductions or other environmental benefits such entity (i.e. the power company) expects to achieve by closing or decommissioning the facility.

On March 1, 2024 the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy submitted a Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP) for the State of Nebraska to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NDEE developed the plan using a $3 million grant from funds provided by the federal Inflation Reduction Act. The plan was completed after a number of outreach meetings, one of which was in Lincoln. As noted by NDEE director Jim Macy, the plan “focuses on voluntary, incentive-based programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all economic sectors while promoting environmental stewardship and economic growth throughout the state, including low-income and disadvantaged communities.” Many of the incentives proposed by the PCAP are intended to reduce GHGs resulting from agricultural activities which are calculated to produce 42% of the GHGs attributable to Nebraska, but incentives are also planned for non-agricultural purposes. The plan as submitted is reviewable at, If the browser you first use blocks the download as being insecure, try another browser. The plan is accessible using Mozilla Firefox. Also, now that the PCAP has been completed and submitted, Nebraska can request federal funds for implementation of that plan. The state will also begin preparation of a “Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP) which is due by August 2025.

  1. 25 Steps to Lower CO2 Emissions – The organization called Cool Congregations, the same organization that recognized Saint Paul both nationally and at the state level for our God’s Tree-mendous Tree Project, has produced a very informative 2-page list of 25 steps costing less than $25 that we can take to lower our CO2 emissions. 
  2. Tax Credits Another very informative product is produced by the Citizen’s Climate Lobby.  It lists in brief the several tax credits and discounts available specifically to homeowners and renters as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act.
  3. Effects of Climate Change on Human Health—The Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World Herald had identical articles on Sunday, February 19, 2023 about the adverse, but too often overlooked, effects of climate change on human health.  The following link is to the Journal Star article.
  4. Decoding the Weather Machine – A documentary outlining what is happening scientifically to our planet because of the addition of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere and what options exist for reducing the increases in global warming.
  5. SojoAction Christians and Climate Q&A – This resource aims to demystify the topic of climate change and clarify the call to take action for climate justice. Designed for Christians of all backgrounds, it addresses the most common questions and concerns we hear about the climate crisis and provides clear steps for action.
  6. “Earthrise” by Amanda Gorman – A poem recited by National Youth Poet Laureate.
  7. Climate Change Books
    The following are recommended as sources of information that will further explain climate change and its impacts:
    1. David Attenborough’s book entitled “A Life on our Planet” was the subject of a class led by David Lux in 2023.  In that book the author testifies to how rapidly and dramatically he has seen life on our planet change in the more than 90 years of his lifetime.  He also offers ideas for how we could reverse those changes.
    2. The book serving as the basis for a class led this year by David Lux is entitled “Not Too Late” by Rebecca Solnit and Thelma Young Lutunatabua.  It is subtitled “Changing the Climate Story from Despair to Possibility.”  That subtitle sums up the message of the book which contains essays by a number of authors about how we need to have hope that climate change can be reduced and how we need to turn that hope into action.
    3. Bill Gates book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” not only describes the nature and extent of the climate challenge ahead of us, but also the technological obstacles that must be overcome to meet those challenges.
    4. “The Future We Choose” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac describes what we can expect in the future (2050) if we alternatively do or do not do anything to stop emitting greenhouse gases.  
    5. A short 112 page book that includes speeches by Greta Thunberg, the remarkable Swedish teenager who has gained worldwide acclaim for her advocacy for climate change action is titled “No One is Too Small to Make a Difference.”
    6. A slightly different twist on the environmental challenges ahead can be found in Doug Tallamy’s book “Nature’s Best Hope, A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Backyard.”  In that book the author explains how important insects and plants, especially the native plants that support the insects, are essential to the continued existence of our ecosystems.
    7. Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an internationally recognized climate scientist, is the author of a book entitled “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.”  In that book Dr. Hayhoe explains how we can more easily start and have conversations with others about climate change.
  8. The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) produces a new report each year. The 2023 report released in March emphasizes the need for urgent climate action and describes how the most vulnerable global populations are the most at risk from current and increasing impacts of climate change. It also suggests that global resources are sufficient to prevent climate change catastrophes if the political will is present. Both a four-page press release about the new report and the report’s summary for policymakers can be found by searching for IPCC 2023 report.
  9.  For information on the sources and proportions of greenhouses gases in our atmosphere, take a look at:
  10. To calculate your own carbon footprint and see which of your activities are causing the most emissions, do the fun activity found at:
  11. To learn about emissions globally, by type of gas being emitted, by economic sector and by country, see:
  12. Arguments are still being made about whether electric vehicles result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions when their manufacture and disposal are also considered.  For an excellent article about how much lower emissions are with an EV, read: An even more recent analysis of the greenhouse gas emission differences between fossil fueled and electric vehicles can be found at
  13. A blog about plastic bags and the damage they cause can be seen at:
  14. An article about divestment in fossil fuels in the New Yorker magazine can be found at:
  15. Composting of food waste and other organic materials is another way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The City of Lincoln’s website has several items of interest about composting including how to do it ourselves and what is available commercially in that regard.  It can be easily accessed by going to: and by searching for “compost.”  The UNL Extension Service also has made a lot of helpful information about composting available at: and by searching for “compost” there as well.

Climate Change Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

Earlier this year Congress adopted, and President Biden signed, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.  The act has provisions relating to many subjects, but those intended to address climate change are the most extensive.  According to a summary of the act, it will put the U.S. on a path to a roughly 40% emissions reduction by 2030 and represents the single biggest climate investments in U.S. history, by far.  An abbreviated summary of the claimed benefits of the act is found below.  A more detailed summary can be found at: 

An abbreviated summary of the claimed benefits of the act. 

  1. Lowers energy costs for Americans through policies that will lower prices at the pump and on electricity bills, help consumers afford technologies that will lower emissions and energy prices, and reduce costs that would otherwise be passed on to them.
  2. Increases American energy security through policies to support energy reliability and cleaner production coupled with historic investments in American clean energy manufacturing to lessen our reliance on China, ensuring the transition to a clean economy creates millions of American manufacturing jobs, and is powered by American-made clean technologies.
  3. Invests in decarbonizing all sectors of the economy through targeted federal support of innovative climate solutions.
  4. Focuses investments into disadvantaged communities to ensure that communities that are too-often left behind will share in the benefits of the transition to a clean economy.
  5. Supports resilient rural communities by investing in farmers and forestland owners to be part of growing climate solutions, and by ensuring rural communities are able to better adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

Saint Paul Justice & Mercy Team FAQ

  • Presence at the state capital for justice gatherings on topics such as immigration and racial injustice
  • Representation on community partnership boards working for justice
  • Speakers, classes and forums to educate on justice issues
  • Preaching justice
  • SP supports (financially and through participation) the Interfaith Peacemaking Coalition yearly workshop.
  • We have placed yard signs in member’s homes which address justice issues to let community know we are sharing God’s Love for all in acts of justice.

We have gained new members through our efforts at justice as people have seen our witness with PRIDE festival and our rainbow banners outside the church.  Each have told stories of their previous exile from churches due to homophobic or shame-based theology.  They have found new life and new connection to God through the welcoming of Saint Paul UMC.

  • Saint Paul has undergone a new visioning process with the guidance of the Unstuck Church Group.  One of the areas of our focus for growth is in Mercy and Justice.  We have formed a strategic planning team which will be leading the congregation into greater justice-centered mission practices.
  • We will begin with a foundation of deepening our own understanding of lovingkindness. All justice work must be grounded in love (open hearts).
  • Next we will educate ourselves and the congregation around justice and the biblical mandate (open minds).
  • Finally, we will go forward into the world beyond our doors to do acts of justice (open doors).

Our strategic planning team has identified three areas for our focus:  racial justice, ecological justice, and health care.  Each of these areas will be resourced and ministry teams will be formed to engage the congregation in love, education and action. We will schedule our efforts strategically by launching one at a time and building support before adding the next.