Stand Up: Toe to Toe with Egypt

Date

Aug 11, 2018

Sermon Series

Drawn Out

In the Biblical book of Exodus, the Lord sent Moses back into Egypt to go toe-to-toe with the most powerful man and empire in that known world.  Pharaoh had servants, magicians and an army. Could it be that God was saying “the people of Israel are people” and “they are not your possession?”  And, the method of releasing these people was an unqualified shepherd.

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Dear Downers Church Family:

“If you are going to dump waste, it might as well be in the Mojave Desert.” This might have been the thought of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s.

PG&E was known for transporting natural gas from Arizona, throughout California, up to southern Oregon. Their transportation pipelines distanced more than 6,000 miles. Their stations were connected by about 40,000 miles of distribution pipelines. Since cooling towers were needed to prepare natural gas for transport, several compressor stations were set up.

One of the first compressor stations was in Hinkley, California, a small desert town in the Mojave Desert. Water was used in the cooling towers. But as many know, water will eventually help rust metal pipes. This is the reason that anti-rust agents were added. In the 1950s, one of the cheapest and most efficient rust-prevention additives was hexavalent chromium, or chromium 6. PG&E needed a place to dump the waste water that contained the chromium 6. Over the period of about 15 years, it is approximated that PG&E dumped 370 million gallons of chromium-tainted wastewater into local ponds in Hinkley. This contamination was kept quiet for over 20 years.

In 1993, a legal clerk (with no formal law training and education) started investigating elevated illnesses in the Hinkley community. It was her belief that hexavalent chromiumwas linked to the spiked cluster of sicknesses. The name of that legal clerk was Erin Brockovich. As the legend (and movie) states, the difference between Ms. Brockovich and PG&E was how they viewed the people of Hinkley. To the company, people were not really people. But, to Erin Brockovich, each individual was invaluable. Possibly, this is the reason that the case was settled in 1996 for $333 million, which happened to be the largest direct-action lawsuit in United States history.

In the Biblical book of Exodus, the Lord sent Moses back into Egypt to go toe-to-toe with the most powerful man and empire in that known world. Pharaoh had servants, magicians and an army. Could it be that God was saying “the people of Israel are people” and “they are not your possession?” And, the method of releasing these people was an unqualified shepherd.

Pastor Kent

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