In a resolution adopted in June 1978 in New York City, the UAHC Board of Trustees recognized the urgency of the energy crisis and stated that "the priorities of a national energy policy should be the conservation and development of renewable alternative resources as a means of achieving self-sufficiency for our energy needs." The Board reaffirmed and strengthened that call in a resolution passed in May 1979.
It is clear that the United States has failed to achieve these purposes, even though it is increasingly evident that the development of a fair, just, and effective energy policy is essential to the economic and social well-being of our country, to our national security, to the maintenance of an independent United States foreign policy, and to world stability.
The American people still seem to reject the idea that we are faced with a genuine energy crisis. Instead, in response to the recent energy tremors triggered by the Iranian shortfall, OPEC's exploitation of it, and domestic shortages, we seem to be casting around once again for appropriate villains to blame for the gas shortage. We must recognize that the crisis is real, and all of us must recognize our community and industrial responsibility in meeting this crisis.
In assessing energy policies, we should be guided by concern for the protection of human life from hazards that may threaten health or well-being; concern for the environment; concern for future generations and their genetic integrity; and concern for the fair and equitable distribution of energy resources, both among people and countries.
In keeping with our previous positions and with these ethical values, the 55th General Assembly resolves that:
- We continue to believe that conservation represents the most acceptable and practical method of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and preserving nonrenewable resources for the future. The profligate waste of energy in America is a moral scandal and a national challenge. We, therefore, call upon the federal, state, and local governments and all citizens to adopt and fund serious programs of conservation and public awareness of energy usage, including such essential components as a high-priority improvement in, and in usage of, mass transit. The national conservation effort undertaken in Canada should be a model for efforts that the United States could implement.
- In accordance with the recommendations adopted in 1978 and 1979, we call upon the appropriate commissions and departments within the UAHC and other bodies in Reform Judaism to provide specific guidance to our congregations and congregants on how to utilize an energy audit and other means to reduce energy consumed, wherever feasible, by retrofitting structures and-in building new structures-incorporating energy-efficient techniques. We request the chairman of the Board of Trustees to appoint a special committee to undertake a study of what progress is made in the congregations, camps, and other facilities of Reform Judaism to achieve significant energy reductions, aiming for a 10 percent reduction in energy use, and to report back to this Board at our spring 1980 meeting.
- The United States and Canada should act aggressively to lessen the monopolistic impact of OPEC's control of the price and quantity of world oil by undertaking needed steps to achieve the increased exploration and development of oil throughout the world and specifically to expedite oil from Alaska and to overcome the political, technological, and economic constraints on energy trade with Mexico.
- The United States and Canadian governments must act more effectively to help the poor meet the disproportionate burden the energy crisis places on them. By the United States administration's own admission, its proposed Energy Security Fund, even if adopted by Congress, would not adequately achieve that purpose.
- We reiterate our earlier plea for the United States and Canada to undertake a crash program of developing and storing alternative renewable energy sources-in particular, solar-as well as developing hydroelectric power and utilizing gasohol and other substitutes as quickly as possible.
- The near disaster at Three Mile Island and related events now coming to light have provoked profound concern and have resulted in a justifiable reassessment of the safety and future of nuclear energy. We, therefore, believe that any further expansion of nuclear energy should await a resolution of presently unanswered questions regarding safety and nuclear waste disposal. We further call for continued investigations and efforts to increase the security and safety in current operations and for a moratorium on the overseas exports of nuclear plants, pending the resolution of security questions.
- We have great confidence in the wisdom of a fully informed electorate. We view the lack of general public support for the type of measures we have proposed as being due, in large measure, to the confusion, misinformation, half-truths, and conflicting statements from all levels of our government and industry on this issue of vital national concern. The United States government should not rely only on the oil companies for data on energy. We urge that the Department of Energy carry out its own audits of oil companies' inventories, production, and refinement of all oil weights. The stated goal shall be to achieve an independent database on which the Department of Energy reports to Congress and to the American people. We urge both the Canadian and United States governments now to present the energy issue to their citizens with candor and objectivity, and we know that the Canadian and American people will respond in the highest tradition of our democratic systems.