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Faith Leaders Call for Limits On Carbon Pollution

02/28/2014 02:59 pm ET | Updated Apr 30, 2014
  • Molly Rauch Public Health Policy Director, Moms Clean Air Force

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When EPA held a public hearing earlier this month on its proposed rule to limit carbon pollution from new power plants, I expected to hear comments from engineers, economists, policy experts, health professionals, and atmospheric scientists about the rule. I also knew that moms and dads were going to be there in force, to talk about what carbon pollution means to them as parents (thanks, Moms Clean Air Force!). What was less expected was the tidal wave of faith that I experienced as I sat in the EPA hearing room. Over a dozen faith leaders spoke out that day about the importance of limiting carbon emissions from power plants. Speaking from a diversity of religious backgrounds, they powerfully invoked their traditions' many teachings on caring for the earth and for each other.

Here is a sampling of what they said:

"I have been called by God to speak out on these issues, because it is my conviction as an Evangelical Christian that we must be stewards of God's creation. And, it seems abundantly clear to me that the EPA's carbon rule is a much-needed tool to carry out this call to be stewards of creation." ~ Reverend Richard Cizik, President, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, Virginia

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"I stand before you today not as a scientist or engineer or even as an environmental advocate, but first and foremost as a person of faith called to care for God's good creation and to walk alongside my brothers and sisters around the globe who are struggling to survive the impacts of a changing climate... While we in in our places of comfort and privilege in the United States have debated the science and argued the statistics and perpetuated our polluting ways, our brothers and sisters around the world - and in vulnerable communities here at home - have suffered. Now is our time to act." ~ John Hill, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church

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"Our Reform Jewish values call on us to be stewards of the Earth, not just for our own benefit and the well-being of those with whom we share this planet today, but because of responsibility to the generations that will succeed us. These guiding principles inspire our support of measures to stem the impact of climate change - including the EPA's proposed regulations on carbon emissions from new power plants." ~ Barbara Weinstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

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"We view climate change as the moral issue of our time, and feel we have an obligation to reverse the implications of our careless actions. As Christians, we are called to be stewards of the land that was gifted to us and ensure that we leave this planet better for the next generation." ~ Tricia Bruckbauer, Creation Justice Ministries

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"An important question for Christians, and for all people of goodwill, is this: How much carbon pollution should power plants be permitted to dump into the atmosphere - for others to pay for in health, and in climate disruption costs? From the Evangelical and Reformed Christian perspective, it's clearly wrong for a buyer and a seller to enjoy all the benefits of a transaction, and then leave a substantial part of the cost for someone else to pick up - the external costs." ~ John Elwood, New Jersey farmer and member of the Presbyterian Church

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"More than purely an environmental issue, the setting of carbon standards is an issue of fairness, equity and justice... It is not only future generations that will bear the impacts of climate change. They are being felt now, most intensely by those populations around the world who are least able to cope with them. We must act with great conviction and haste to move toward solutions. The central principle of the Bahá'í Faith is the oneness of humankind. This principle has deep implications for policy in many arenas. It should guide us to seek solutions that are equitable and just, treating all people as members of one human family. EPA's proposed carbon standards for new power plants represent one way that this principle can be put into action." ~ Peter Adriance, US Bahai Office of Public Affairs

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"Our economy can never be so desperate that we sell off our children's right to fresh air... African American children are 5 TIMES more likely to DIE of asthma and 3 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for an asthma attack. This is directly related to unbridled carbon pollution in the air. When combined with the other toxins that come from power plants such as arsenic, mercury, and lead, carbon pollution creates a lethal gas chamber -- a death dome -- which hovers over our communities and snuffs out lives prematurely. It is unbridled carbon pollution that is the number one driver of climate change. Those most impacted by climate change are the most vulnerable members of society we are called to serve." ~ Reverend M. Dele, United Church of Christ, Virginia

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"I join the growing chorus of people who believe that there is no more important issue facing our world than the devastating effects of pollution from our carbon hungry economy, including climate disruption and health problems." ~ Sarah Scherschligt, Peace Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Virginia

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"So often, we are told that the change we are trying to make is unrealistic because clean energy is so expensive, while dirty energy is cheap. But who pays for dirty energy? Who bears the cost of bad air quality, the cost of kids with asthma, and seniors having heart attacks, and pregnant mothers with mercury in their bodies? Who bears the cost of stronger storms, extreme drought, devastating floods, and other scary weather caused by climate change? Any energy we pay for through the permanent destruction of our climate, any energy people pay for with our health, isn't cheap energy. It is intolerably expensive." ~ Joelle Novey, Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light

Photo: Shutterstock

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