My name is sister Donna Zwigart. I am a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, a Roman Catholic order of 452 women who serve mostly in the United States and minister in Puerto Rico, Africa and Peru.
Our western Pennsylvania regional house, Mt. Alvernia, is located in Millvale, a borough about 3 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.
I want to extend my gratitude to you for eliciting comments from the citizens on the proposed regulations for existing coal-fire plants.
As you may know, St. Francis was declared the patron of ecology by the United Nations about 35 years ago. So I feel qualified, as a Franciscan, to make my testimony here today.
St. Francis was not only about bird baths and gardens…his teachings are about relationships. We are all brothers and sisters in this kin-dom of Earth. We are our brothers and sisters keepers as part of the family of all of Creation. We are kin! So whatever effects or harms our kin is of great concern to us.
If the air we breathe is polluted then all of the Earth’s family is hampered and cannot be healthy. We have seen evidence of this in our Pittsburgh region. We have one of the highest cases of lung cancer, COPD and asthma, especially in our children.
We support the proposed EPA’s clean air regulations for existing coal-fired plants because it will help to drive down carbon emissions.
If we take note where many of the coal-fired power plants reside it is in the low-income neighborhoods. As Franciscans we have a special love for our poor kin. Poor people and communities suffer the worst of the consequences of climate change in epic flooding, storms, droughts and heat waves. Our kin are suffering! Many need to migrate to safer places, but can find none. Studies have shown that victims of climate change provide fodder for an escalation of human trafficking. These are our kin!
Future generations are at great risk in a climate-altered world. Do we care for our children, grandchildren and their offspring? Are we willing to sacrifice their well-being as we bury our heads in the mire of financial endeavors where the ROI is a human disaster? These are our kin!
I would ask the EPA to include in the legislation ways to help people who may lose their jobs by providing education for new technological employment. Create new opportunities, encourage, support and reward bright minds to find alternative means of energy for the future of our kin-dom on mother Earth.
There are many groups who support actions that drive down carbon emissions: among which are the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Franciscans throughout the world, the local inter-faith ministers, Pope Francis and global environmentalists. The EPA can always call upon these faith communities to support efforts to curb carbon emissions.
I thank you for this opportunity to speak on behalf of the religious community today.
I leave you with this quote from Pope Francis in which he reminded the world in May of this year “Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.”
May God give you peace.
The EPA hearings on the (finally) proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power Plants took place the last week in July in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and Denver. PA IPL members offered testimony both in Pittsburgh and Washington. Testimony posted here is shared by permission of the authors. Remarks by PA IPL supporters are published on this blog alongside PA IPL’s official remarks. When you’re inspired, submit a written comment of your own.