My name is Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, a Sister of St. Joseph of Philadelphia. I am here today representing the Sisters of St. Joseph and Chestnut Hill College of Philadelphia. I am also an Ambassador of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Climate Change Coalition. Speaking from a faith perspective and the moral imperative of doing no harm to God’s creation, I implore you to write Emission Guidelines for reducing carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants that truly make a difference for global climate.
As Pope Francis has said in his call to us all, “Whenever human beings fail to live up to environmental responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Let us be protectors of creation.”
The tradition of Catholic social teaching offers a developing and distinctive perspective on environmental issues. We believe that the following themes drawn from the tradition are integral dimensions of ecological responsibility:
- A God-centered and sacramental view of the universe, which grounds human accountability for the fate of the earth;
- A consistent respect for human life which extends to respect for all creation;
- A world view affirming the ethical significance of global interdependence and the common good;
- An ethics of solidarity promoting cooperation and a just structure of sharing in the world community;
- An understanding of the universal purpose of created things, which requires equitable use of the earth’s resources;
- An option for the poor, which gives passion to the quest for an equitable and sustainable world;
- A conception of authentic development, which offers a direction for progress that respects human dignity and the limits of material growth.
In Centesimus Annus, former Pope Benedict XVI insisted that the state has the task of providing “for the defense and preservation of common good such as the natural and human environments, which cannot be safeguarded simply by market forces.” (#40) You can see that all of these principles apply to your decisions about writing emission rules for fossil fuel power plants.
Today, as you consider providing carbon limits on fossil fuel plants, which are the single largest source of climate pollution in the US, most often located in poor communities, I urge you to make sure that those limits truly do the job of reducing pollution and global climate change. Although as a member of PA Interfaith Power & Light, we do our best to reduce our own carbon footprint, this pales in the presence of coal powered plants. We know millions of Americans join us in supporting these limits. Please do the right thing.
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.