Democrat Congressman: America's Fossil Fuel Use Is ‘Sinful’

By Matt Cover | April 21, 2010 | 2:04 PM EDT

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)

( – Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D.-Mo.) said on Wednesday that it is "sinful" for Americans to use the amount of fossil fuels they do. Cleaver, a United Methodist pastor, also said the Bible commands people to be good stewards of the Earth, which he said mankind is not doing.
“When you realize how much fossil fuel we use, it is sinful,” Cleaver told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I do know what is in the Bible, and we are, it is declared by--that the Sun and the Earth is the Lord’s, in the fullness thereof, meaning everything that is in it.  And that means that we are stewards that must take care of God’s Earth.”

Cleaver made his remarks at a press conference announcing the installation of a LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting system in the House of Representatives’ cafeteria, a project that is part of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) ‘Green the Capitol’ initiative.
Cleaver said that by greening the Capitol Congress was demonstrating to the rest of the country what Congress would like it to do.
“I think that the ‘Green the Capitol’ initiative is a bold statement by this Congress--the first time anything like that has been declared--that we are, in fact, going to show the nation what we hope the nation will do,” he said.
Cleaver also said that using less artificial light--one of the goals of the new congressional cafeteria lighting system--was a matter of combating commonly held myths.
“As a minister, I hear people say (that) the Bible says God helps those who help themselves,” said Cleaver. “It sounds really good, except it’s not in the Bible. So, there are things that we say that sound good so we just attribute it to something significant.”
“One of the things we say is that, if you read in the dark, it will damage your eyes,” Cleaver said. “Every ophthalmologist will tell you, ‘That’s not true.’ So when people come into my office, they are always stunned at the fact that I don’t have my lights on unless it’s dark outside. I have a lamp, a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) lamp on my desk.
Cleaver said that leaders such as himself must “be the change we promote” when it comes to energy efficiency.
He further noted that in his district they purchased a shuttle bus that runs on vegetable oil and turned it into a rolling office. The vegetable oil costs 70 cents a gallon, said Cleaver, and the vehicle “does not leave the regular cloud of smoke that a petroleum, diesel engine would leave.”
“We leave an aroma of French fries,” he said. “We find little kids following (us).”