People of faith shared poignant testimonies calling for clean air and climate justice at a hearing held by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday, October 1, 2018 in Chicago.
The hearing was the only public hearing in the country regarding the so-called “Affordable Clean Energy (ACE)” rule, which was proposed by the Trump administration to replace the Clean Power Plan (CPP) introduced in 2015 under President Obama.
The CPP regulated carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants – a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. The plan set emissions reductions targets for states in order to reach the modest overall goal of decreasing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.
The ACE proposal, however, would weaken air pollution and carbon emission reductions and put thousands of lives at risk by leaving it up to states to decide how much they want to reduce emissions.
Green Team leaders, seminary students, and Faith in Place staff presented ten of the testimonies.
Grounded in various faith traditions, they passionately spoke truth to power and urged the EPA to reject the ACE proposal. (Read excerpts and find links to videos below.)
The “Affordable Clean Energy” rule is anything but affordable and clean – leading us to join many in referring to it as the #DirtyPowerScam.
Due to increases in pollution, ACE will cause up to 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030, according to estimates provided by the Administration.
In contrast, the Clean Power Plan would have prevented an estimated 1,500 to 3,600 premature deaths per year by 2030 because burning less coal would result in cleaner air. Each state had the flexibility to decide how it was going to reach the goal through a variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
While the Clean Power Plan was the result of widespread citizen engagement, with eight days of public hearings held in three different cities across the U.S., Monday’s hearing on ACE was the only opportunity in the entire country for citizens to voice their opinions in-person.
Faithful advocates also joined a rally at noon to add their voices to the loud chorus of opposition to ACE offered by public health advocates, scientists, parents, students, environmentalists, and business people.
Since Faith in Place is the Illinois affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light – a national multi-faith organization working to address climate change – we were able to amplify the voices of faithful people from across the country.
Even if you were unable to attend the hearing on October 1st, your voice is still critical to speak out against this proposal.
Submit an official comment to the EPA here by October 31, 2018.
Your comment will be emailed to the EPA Docket and will be published on the EPA's website as part of the public comment process.
“It’s time for Environmental Justice communities like Waukegan to stop bearing the brunt of climate impact, but to be protected and lifted up by this agency. We will not sit idle while the Affordable Clean Energy Rule will bring more deaths to our community.”
–Celeste Flores, Lake County Outreach Director, Faith in Place
"My scientific background and my Christian faith both motivate my opposition to the proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule. [...] I shifted from science to seminary because I am overwhelmed with the conviction that climate change is a moral issue. Good science is crucial for informing sound policy. However, what good is science if we don't care about the people it impacts? [...] I think of people of color, the poor, immigrants, refugees, indigenous peoples, who are already vulnerable to hardship and, on top of that, they face the worst impacts of climate change and unjust systems.
"I believe that we are all God's beloved children, worthy of clean air, abundant life, and justice."
–Christina Crusius, Atmospheric Scientist, Student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Green Team member at First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights, and Climate Reality Leader (Watch Testimony)
“This matters to me personally. I’ve lived this reality. For the Administration to confess to us that you know the ACE will increase air pollution, causing 1400 more premature deaths annually, it’s unimaginable to me. You are talking about me. You are talking about children looking to play freely outside but this increased air pollution is triggering more asthma events.”
–Rev. Brian Sauder, Executive Director, Faith in Place (Watch Testimony)
“My dad suffers from COPD. I see how this health challenge affects his life. He is luckier than some, who have worse breathing issues. The medical community has drawn a direct link from air pollution to respiratory problems, including lung cancer. No one should be subjected to dirty air because the fossil fuel industry's profits are given a higher priority.
"What I’ve learned over the years is this: Clean air and clean water should be everyone’s right, no matter the color of one’s skin or the size of one’s bank account.”
–Ginnie Judd, Operations Director, Faith in Place (Watch Testimony)
“For us, one of those 1400 will be a beloved child, struggling for air during an asthma attack, her lips turning blue, her desperate parents rushing to the E.R. to find out this time they were too late. It is pastors and church families who will share the grief of that family, who will share the pain of her mother’s heart. This is just one. But she matters.
"People of faith love stories – the stories of ancient texts and the stories we share with one another. They shape our lives. They encourage us to be our best and do our best. We reject stories where greed and waste and selfishness win. As an attempt is made to rewrite our national narrative, we hold out and we speak out for a better story, hoping for one our children can tell their grandchildren with love.”
–Rev. Cindy Shepherd, Central Illinois Outreach Director, Faith in Place (Watch Testimony)
“My mother grew up in Northwest Indiana during the late 60s and 70s. She tells me you could see an orange haze in the air driving along the Skyway into Chicago. Thanks in large part to the Clean Air Act, the industrial smog was cleaned up. But the poor air quality left my mom with chronic health conditions – asthma and severe food allergies – that she fights every day. Some days, it’s hard for her to simply leave the house due to her pain.
"I’m thankful she has access to health care providers who help her manage her symptoms. I know that isn’t the case for many across the country, especially in communities of color. Communities that will experience a disproportionate number of the EPA’s estimated 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 under the proposed rule.”
–Katie Maxwell, Communications Support, Faith in Place (Watch Testimony)
“Continuing to allow coal plants to emit carbon dioxide intensifies climate change and exacerbates the negative impacts that will be felt by all of us in the not-so-distant future, and will impact vulnerable communities the most.
In the face of all of this, a critical message that many different faith traditions – including my own – have to offer is hope. Things don’t have to be as they are. We can envision and work towards the world as it should be. The well-being of our neighbors, fellow creatures, and future generations is at stake.”
–Callie Mabry, Communications Director, Faith in Place (Watch Testimony)