United States Religious Leaders Urge Mothers to Protect Their Children: The EPA’s Clean Air Act Threatened by the U.S. Congress and Industry

Share Article

"Mothers: it is time to be up in arms. The laws that protect the health of our children are under direct assault by industry. Three insidious bills are now pending before a shamefully receptive Congress to gut the Clean Air Act and to sideline its vigilant enforcer, the Environmental Protection Agency," states Rabbi Warren Stone, Co-Chair of the National Coalition on Creation Care. "How many more children are we willing to see suffer from asthma, cancer and other diseases through increased exposure of harmful air toxins? Is this a cost we are willing to have our children and our children’s children bear?"

News Image

Mother with ill child

Congress and industry should never underestimate the power of mothers to act to protect their children and the children of future generations.

"Mothers: it is time to be up in arms. The laws that protect the health of our children are under direct assault by industry. Three insidious bills are now pending before a shamefully receptive Congress to gut the Clean Air Act and to sideline its vigilant enforcer, the Environmental Protection Agency," states Rabbi Warren Stone, Co-Chair of the National Coalition on Creation. "How many more children are we willing to see suffer from asthma, cancer and other diseases through increased exposure of harmful air toxins? Is this a cost we are willing to have our children and our children’s children bear?"

One of these bills, the H.R. 2250, sponsored by Representative Morgan H. Griffith (VA-9), is named the EPA Regulatory Relief Act. This bill would void standards for industrial boilers and solid waste incinerators and delay industry compliance for 3.5 years. "These delays have immediate and profound health consequences, allowing more lead, benzene, mercury and other cancer-causing dioxins into the atmosphere. What is the expected impact?" asks Rabbi Stone. According to Sustainable Business News (September 29, 2011), some 100,000 tons of toxic air pollution and up to 22,750 premature deaths, 143,000 more asthma attacks, and more than one million missed days of work or school.

Another bill, the H.R. 2401, the TRAIN Act, (Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation), sponsored by Representative John Sullivan (R-OK1), would block the cross-state air pollution rule, which curbs power plant smog and soot pollution, and the Mercury and Air Toxic Standards, which limit mercury and other air pollutants from power plants.

The third bill, H.R. 2681, Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, sponsored by Representative John Sullivan (R-OK1), would void standards for cement plants and would give the industry freedom to pollute the air for years with high levels of mercury, soot and smog, acids and metals.

According to Pediatrician Dr. Cynthia Bearer, Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University, children’s biological sensitivity (the capacity to be easily harmed) “places them at special risk for harm from a toxic exposure. Because a child is a growing, developing organism, she is especially vulnerable to the effects of exposure. Her metabolic reactions-the body’s way of processing and excreting toxic substances-are not as developed as those of an adult.” According to a major symposium study by the Children’s Environmental Health Network (October 10, 2010): “Children are not just 'little adults.' Their biological sensitivity, exploratory behavior, and a diet very different from that of adults make children particularly vulnerable to environmental exposures.”

Rabbi Warren Stone, Co-Chair of the National Coalition on Creation Care, emphasizes that the latter two bills seek to restrict the EPA’s regulatory authority. "They are part of an all-out assault on the agency’s mandate to enact regulations that protect the atmosphere and the air that all of us, including our most vulnerable, children, the most vulnerable among us – breathe. There is enormous industry pressure and lobbying to try to overturn the 2007 Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to authorize our EPA to protect family health with the Clean Air Act."

United States religious leaders oppose this immoral attempt to undermine the health regulations that protect our families. Rev. Chris Boerger, bishop, Northwest Washington Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said: "For more than 30 years, the Clean Air Act has protected our air and the health of all creation, embodying the Christian ethic of stewardship for God's earth. Climate change presents a critical challenge for the future health of our planet and each of us, and the Clean Air Act is a key component of efforts to address that threat. Efforts to interfere with this vital legislation threaten the progress we have made in caring for the earth as well as the health and well-being of future generations." The Conference of Bishops, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Evangelical leadership, the United Church of Christ, as well as the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and the URJ Religious Action Center all concur on the critical importance of the Clean Air Act and have supported the moral vision and work of the Environmental Protection Agency, under the stewardship of Administrator Lisa Jackson, in upholding these protections. Rev. Harriet Olson, deputy general secretary, United Methodist Women, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, said: "As leaders in our communities of faith, we take very seriously our charge to act as stewards of God's Creation. Preserving a strong Clean Air Act and limiting the harm done by climate change are very important and concrete things we can do today working together as people of faith acting in that stewardship capacity."

"The need is urgent now. It is time for mothers, all concerned parents, and all who care for our children’s future, to call upon their representatives (http://www.wrhammons.com/us-senators-representatives.htm) to speak out for the critical importance of clean air for their families and to ask them to vote against these bills," states Rabbi Warren Stone, an eco-activist and spiritual leader of Temple Emanuel in Kensington, Maryland, in the Greater Washington, D.C. area, and has led delegations on environmental issues to the Congress and the White House. "Congress and industry should never underestimate the power of mothers to act to protect their children and the children of future generations."

Rabbi Stone is known nationally for his leadership on Religion and the Environment. He serves as co-chair of the National Religion Coalition on Creation Care and is the founding chair of the Central Conference of American Rabbis’ Committee on the Environment. Rabbi Stone represented many national Jewish organizations as the Jewish United Nations delegate at the UN Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 and later in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009 where he blew the Shofar and led a number of interfaith programs and prayer vigils. His abstract, "Climate Change Beyond Diplomacy: Thinking Outside the Box," was presented at the International Congress of Scientists in Copenhagen. Grist publication named Rabbi Stone as one of the world’s top 15 religious environmentalists.

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Kathy Magenheim
Temple Emanuel
(301) 942-2000
Email >
Visit website