My name is Joy Bergey, and I speak in my role as Executive Director of the Center for the Celebration of Creation. The Center is an inter-religious program in Philadelphia, PA. The Center works with congregations and individuals to address problems of environmental injustice.
The Center for the Celebration of Creation applauds the EPA for proposing this strong rule. We urge that it be implemented quickly and not weakened in any way.
Every major faith tradition calls on its followers to protect those at the margins of society who cannot defend themselves: the young, the old, the sick, the poor. And it is exactly these persons who are being hurt first and worst by climate change, the climate change caused by industrial carbon pollution.
The major faith traditions also call on us to protect, even celebrate the natural world that God has given us. God’s love is infinite; the earth’s natural resources are not. The ways that we generate our power in this country are causing damage to God’s world that could take centuries to heal, threatening to deprive our children and their children of safe and healthy communities in which to live and grow.
Pennsylvania is the third worst state in terms of global warming pollution, with our 12 million residents creating nearly one percent of the world’s heat-trapping emissions. Our state creates more global warming pollution than 103 countries combined.
With a long history of burning fossil fuels to generate our power, Pennsylvania already has abundant scars on our landscape – piles of coal waste, miles upon miles of dead waterways, and dirty air.
And of course, now we know that all this industrial carbon pollution is damaging our earth, heating the air, the land, the water, and destabilizing the climate.
Our children deserve clean air so they can play outside without risking asthma attacks, which are exacerbated by a warming climate. And they deserve to grow up as adults in a world not rocked by climate disruption.
At one time, we simply didn’t understand the long-term consequences of our actions, as we burned fossil fuels with abandon. We couldn’t have been faulted in the 1960s or 1970s for building countless coal plants that belched enormous quantities of industrial carbon pollution. But now we know better. We know this pollution is leading to global warming, and we understand just how devastating that may be in the decades ahead. Morality compels us, therefore, to require a change moving forward. This is why the faith community cares deeply about this country’s energy policies, such as the rule we’re considering today.
The Center for the Celebration of Creation, on whose behalf I speak today, is an interfaith organization. I am of the Christian faith, and I’ll quote St. Paul, who tells us repeatedly in the New Testament that all things, all people belong to God: Our little babies in their mamas’ arms belong to God, our snowshoe hares belong to God, those chronically disabled elders with respiratory disease due to air pollution belong to God, our brook trout, threatened by Pennsylvania’s warming waters, belong to God.
This rule on which we comment today moves us to better protect the sacred and irreplaceable gift of Creation, which comes from and belongs to God. We need this rule. Amen.
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.