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Author Father Jeffrey Kendall discusses “New Heavens, New Earth”

By Lauren Mckinnon

Father Jeffrey Kendall was inspired to write his newly published book “New Heavens, New Earth” when he made a mistake.

He was given some incorrect information about South Carolina Electric & Gas’s proposed landfill for toxic coal ash. He announced in public something that was false. When he realized he had passed along untrue statements, he wanted to do something about it.

In his efforts to check the facts and make sure that his arguments were legitimate, he was drawn deeper into the issue. His search for answers quickly became more than just a personal endeavor, but one that meant diving into months of research so he could share this information with the community.

“New Heavens, New Earth” is the result of that research, a book that moves beyond the immediate debate over a coal ash landfill to argue for a change in South Carolina laws, which do not favor solar energy. Kendall is an unwavering advocate for the use of solar energy in South Carolina.

“There was a misconception in the public and a lot of confusion, and I wanted to clear that up because it is a complicated debate with lots of facets,” said Kendall.

“The book doesn’t just talk about the debate because there is a problem to solve. I wanted to investigate the real problem. It’s more fundamental than a coal ash landfill. How do we have green energy in a place like Colleton County where we have the Ace Basin?”

Kendall wants his readers to understand that cooperation between energy companies and the environmentalists is key. The goal is green energy, and, in the end, the energy companies will have no choice but to utilize these energy sources, particularly solar energy here in South Carolina. It is important that the people in the community are aware of and involved in the fight for green energy, according to Kendall.

“I talk about SCE&G’s choice for nuclear energy, but ultimately I came down on the side of solar energy, even though there are problems with it,” said Kendall.

“It’s not perfect, it’s expensive, and the laws in South Carolina are not favorable to it,” Kendall said. “But laws can be changed, even if there is a resistance to change. I make the argument that environmentalists and the energy companies have to work together to solve the problem.

If we just fight all the time, we won’t get there, at least not as fast as we could. We need a new model of cooperation between the energy companies and environmentalists for green energy. I don’t think energy companies have a choice. They have inherited modes of operation they can’t change overnight, but ultimately the future of energy is green energy.”

Although “New Heavens, New Earth” was just published in December, Kendall hopes it will make an impact in the community. It is a call to action for the people of Colleton County to stand up and express their concern for preserving our land, air and water, and to use green energy so the nature and beauty of our great state may flourish.

When asked about the significance of the book title, Kendall said, “The Biblical reference correlates in the sense that if we keep going the same way we are now, there will be no future for us. We need a new energy model to sustain our way of living.”

While researching the book, Kendall was allowed behind-the-scenes access to both sides of the argument. He spent lots of time talking with SCE&G officials, Phil Slater, Planning Director for Colleton County, and local environmentalists. He also spent hours reading U.S. government documents the news articles, and researching information on the Internet. Kendall was diligent about fact-checking.

Kendall wanted to be fair to both sides of the argument, stating that both SCE&G and the environmentalists have legitimate arguments.

“The debate ended in a compromise, which is a significant achievement,” said Kendall.

“On all sides of the debate there was a lot of civility, probably 99 percent, which is a real compliment to our community.”

Kendall explained that these sorts of debates are often Darwinian in nature, in the sense that there is a winner and a loser, but he was happy to see a Christian-based problem-solving model at work. It was a win-win for both sides.

When asked what the most difficult part of writing this book was, Kendall explained that learning to write on a complex issue without coming across too technical was difficult. He wanted to convey the importance of this issue to the community without alienating his readers with jargon.

While writing and putting together his research, Kendall would stay up past midnight organizing thoughts, and wake up and start again the next day at 6:00 a.m. Sometimes he would even put it down and step away for months at a time so he could come back with a fresh outlook.

“This is the first book I’ve ever written. Outlining the arguments was like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle,” said Kendall.

If he could do it all over again, Kendall wishes he would have been more confident.

“I was very self-conscious. Writing can be a very personal thing and I was nervous,” said Kendall.

“No one knew I was writing it. It was a very private adventure. I had low expectations, but have had very positive feedback.”

Even though he faced many challenges – from the time and energy it took to conduct the research, to the laborious writing process, and the logistics of self-publishing – Kendall has not been discouraged.

One of Kendall’s more personal struggles in writing this book was his battle with dyslexia. With hard work, he was able to overcome the hurdle. He has shown that dyslexia doesn’t have to hold you back. He has a degree in engineering as well as English, has multiple books in the works and is a full-time priest at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church.

He says he has long been interested in a career in writing. He is currently working to publish a book of poetry. He also has a children’s book and other books, both fiction and non-fiction, in the works.

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