WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) was among representatives from 17 religious organizations that met Nov. 18 with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy. They met to indicate their support of EPA’s proposed rules to address carbon pollution from power plants.
No limits on carbon pollution from current power plants exist, but EPA has proposed first-ever standards. The proposal will limit emissions by 30% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.
The comment period for this rule ends on Dec. 1.
During the past year, the faith community has advocated to influence and support the Clean Power Plan. Religious leaders testified at EPA hearings across the country. People of faith also gathered outside the EPA headquarters twice to bless the hearings and those offering public comments.
Susan Henry-Crowe, GBCS chief executive, and John Hill, the agency’s director of Economic & Environmental Justice, attended the meeting with McCarthy at which the faith leaders delivered thousands of comments in support of the Clean Power Plan.
Our organizations have worked for decades together to advocate for shared priorities around peace, poverty and the protection of creation.
On behalf of the faith delegation, Henry-Crowe thanked McCarthy for hers and the administration’s leadership in tackling the challenge of climate change. She welcomed McCarthy’s willingness and determination to use her legal authority to protect the well-being of communities.
“We represent diverse faith traditions with a common commitment to care for creation and to love our neighbors,” Henry-Crowe said. “Our organizations have worked for decades together to advocate for shared priorities around peace, poverty and the protection of creation.”
Share moral witness
Henry-Crowe emphasized that the delegation came to the table not as scientists or technical experts, but as “people of faith called to share our moral witness and stand in solidarity with all those on the margins who struggle daily in the face of a changing climate.”
Ours, however, is a ministry not of numbers and statistics but of names and stories.
The EPA, no doubt, has been flooded with information and numbers and statistics, all of which are critical to the rule-making process, Henry-Crowe acknowledged.
“Ours, however, is a ministry not of numbers and statistics but of names and stories, of communities whose very survival is threatened by a changing climate,” Henry-Crowe said. “Our faith communities are on the front lines feeding the hungry, tending to the sick, welcoming the migrant and refugee, and rebuilding disaster-struck communities.”
Henry-Crowe emphasized that these relationships inform and inspire the faith leaders’ commitment to reducing emissions and supporting a just transition to a clean energy future.
17 faith-based organizations
Besides GBCS, others meeting with McCarthy were U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs, Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Coalition on the Environment & Jewish Life, Columbian Center for Advocacy & Outreach and Creation Justice Ministries.
Also at the meeting were Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Interfaith Power & Light (IPL), Islamic Society of North America, Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, and National Religious Partnership for the Environment.
Others present included Presbyterian Church (USA), Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, Sadhana Hindu and Sojourners.
“We urge the EPA to move forward with the proposed standards for existing power plants so that we can reduce carbon pollution as quickly as possible to address climate change, protect human health, and care for all of Creation,” said the Rev. Sally Bingham, founder and president of IPL.
Karen Leu of the Greater Washington, D.C., affiliate of IPL, said:
“People in our religious communities understand that climate change is real and are heart-sick about the suffering it causes our neighbors close to home and around the world. With today's delivery, we're giving Administrator McCarthy not only over 10,000 comments from the faith community, but abundant hopes and blessings for the EPA to take decisive action and limit climate pollution.”
"The diversity of faith communities actively advocating for the Clean Power Plan is both broad and strong,” said the Rev. Stacy Martin, director of National Policy & Advocacy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “While we sometimes come at the issues of climate change and clean air from different religious purviews, we share a common moral call to care for the planet in order to serve our most vulnerable neighbors, and future generations."
The General Board of Church & Society had submitted a comment to McCarthy that described the proposed rule as “an important step for the United States to meet its responsibility both to communities living in the shadow of polluting power plants at home and to the global community as together we work to reduce emissions and curb the effects of the unfolding climate crisis.”
“The proposed rule is an important step in what must be a multifaceted, multisectoral approach to confronting the climate crisis,” said the comment, which was signed by Henry-Crowe and Hill. “As we seek to reduce carbon emissions, we must also ensure care for and be attentive to the particular needs of low-income consumers and communities heavily dependent on fossil-fuel-extractive economies.” “Many in the Christian community are excited and hopeful about the Clean Power Plan,” offered Tricia Bruckbauer, program director for Creation Justice Ministries. “We view clean air as a gift from God, and advocate for the right of all God’s people to breathe freely.”