Senator Casey Supports Climate Action and the Clean Power Plan

by Alexei Laushkin

Starting with the chorus of the hymn, All Creatures of Our God and King – the paraphrased words of St. Francis of Assisi, Senator Robert Casey (D,PA) announced support for President Obama’s Climate Action Plan including The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan at Eastern University.  The statement came as the Senator moderated a panel discussion on Friday, September 18, 2015 at the university’s St. Davids, PA Campus.

Surrounded by a Catholic Sister, Evangelical Biologist, Catholic Theologian. Catholic Mom and EEN’s President, Rev. Mitch Hescox, Senator Casey stated, “Our Faith should guide and inspire our decisions.”  Referencing Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato si’, The Bible, The Evangelical Climate Initiative’s Climate Change: An Evangelical Call To Action and the Lausanne Movement For World Evangelism’s Cape Town Commitment,  all panelists supported Senator Casey’s announcement and continually referred climate change as a moral imperative and not a political issue.

“So, needless to say, I am delighted to be here today to applaud you, Senator Casey, a fellow Catholic, for your support of the Clean Power Plan. As a PA Senator this is not an easy position to take politically. However, morally it is the best position,” stated Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark.

Thanking the Senator for his announcement, EEN’s Hescox said, “Climate Change is the greatest moral challenge of our time as it already impacts all of God’s children throughout His creation.  However it also the greatest opportunity for hope.  With less than 7000 coal mining jobs left in Pennsylvania, it’s time to rebuild Pennsylvania with a clean energy economy.  Renewable energy jobs throughout United States are growing dramatically and already employ more workers than the coal industry.” “How can we continue to subsidize the fossil fuel industry at the rate we do?  As a lifelong Republican, we are propping a dying industry and that’s unfair to the market,” Hescox continued.

The panelists continually referenced the need for a just transition for the loss of coal jobs, while highlighting the children’s health threats, national security implications arising from food and water scarcity worldwide, and biblical imperative to steward God’s creation.

The discussion entitled, “Faith, Children, and the Moral Dimensions of Climate Change” was sponsored by Eastern University, The Evangelical Environmental Network, and Moms Clean Air Force.   Panelists in addition to Senator Casey included: Dr.  Daniel P. Scheid, Assistant Professor of Theology, Duquesne University; Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, SSJ. The Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center; Dr. David W. Unander, Professor of Biology, Eastern University Haynes; Ms. Gretchen Dahlkemper, Field Director, Mom’s Clean Air Force, and The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, President, The Evangelical Environmental Network.

The Clear Case for Supporting the Clean Power Plan

The Rev. Dr. Emilio Marrero and The Rev. Mitch Hescox

The need for climate action is an urgent imperative, and a moral obligation for all people of faith. Why? Because climate action is about defending human life. That’s the key message in Pope Francis’ Encyclical, LAUDATO SI’, issued recently.  The Encyclical from one of Christianity’s most popular and influential leaders provides a capstone and unifying moment for all Christians.

Pope Francis is not alone in understanding humanity’s perils from climate change. He stands in solidarity with over 300 evangelicals, like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and us who signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative in 2006 and other Christian leaders who understand climate change as a humanitarian cause, and its biblical importance to all Christian traditions.  For Christians with eyes to see and ears to listen, they know the suffering is already harming our kids and God’s children around the world.

While a shrinking few still try to deny the scientific reality of climate change, Americans and people overseas daily face the impacts of our warming world. And the most tragically harmed now are the world’s poorest populations who have contributed the least to greenhouse gas pollution. We need to care for the least of these, who the Bible commands us to care about most.

Every child, born and yet-to-be born, deserves the promise and holy covenant of clean air and a healthy climate. Yet, one in three children in America has autism, ADHD, asthma, or allergies all directly linked to fossil fuels and petrochemicals.  Pollution from dirty vehicles and power generation is literally taking their breath away, and action is needed to help protect our kids and other susceptible populations, like the elderly.  Over 277,000 of Pennsylvania’s kids suffer from asthma and a warming world makes their lives much worse.

We need hope for a better world, and our goal is to make hope happen.  The clean energy transition is now unstoppable according to the most respected business voices in the world.  We will replace dirty fuels with clean energy that will rekindle our economy and be the greatest wealth generator in history.  Clean energy will help purify our air and water, replace energy poverty with prosperity, help billions to read as they gain access to light, and generate the greatest opportunity for sustainable life.

The developing world is deploying renewables over old-fashioned fossil-fuel power. Solar installations are doubling every two years, with developing countries installing renewable energy projects at nearly double the rate of developed nations. In fact, global emissions of carbon dioxide flat-lined in 2014, while the global economy grew that same year. It was the first time in 40 years that we experienced a halt or reduction in carbon dioxide emissions without an economic downturn, according to the International Energy Agency.

However we need more than a clean energy transition; we need a clean energy revolution.  Our revolution means removing the roadblocks that empower individuals to have energy freedom and choose who and how they purchase energy.  We must invest in new technologies that yield higher energy efficiencies, and unleash the power of American innovation. Lastly, we must establish public policies that correct failures in our markets.

Around the world, governments subsidize fossil fuels to the amount of $550 billion a year in direct subsidizes, tax breaks, and unrealized health costs.  (The same governments including the US provide $100 billion in renewable subsidies.) While we can’t force all governments to make changes, we (the US) can lead.

Our first step must be to support the soon to be finalized EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP starts to assist in correcting our markets by limiting carbon pollution.  This action slows warming and will protect today’s public and future generations from the health dangers of burning dirty fossil fuels, while helping America steer clear of a dangerously warming future filled with food and water shortages as well as growing threats to our homes, economy and infrastructure.

Let’s make hope happen by transforming the clean energy transition into a revolution. It’s time for people of all faiths to demand the smart, ethical and affordable policies for a new energy economy that defends our kids today and provides for their tomorrow.  Our children’s health and life have always been a priority for Florida. Let’s keep it that by asking our public leaders to defend our kids, come up with solutions that work, and provide for their future by working for a clean energy future.  Caring for God’s creation is a matter of life and an act in following Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Marrero is VP of National Programs, Esperanza, Philadelphia, PA and The Rev. Hescox is President of The Evangelical Environmental Network, New Freedom, PA.

The Evangelical Environmental Network Supports Clean Water

cropped-ch6.jpgClean water is a matter of life and death. All of life requires water, clean pure water.  It’s something we take for granted, but shouldn’t.  Dirty water remains a constant threat with the drinking water of 1 in 3 Americans vulnerable and increasingly undefended.  We must ensure foul water doesn’t harm our children and loved ones.

That’s why today. The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finalized a new standard, Waters of The United States (WOTUS).  The new rule will allow us to enforce The Clean Water Act in ways not available since the Reagan Administration. The standard clarifies what waters are covered under CWA and takes away 20 years of mud-filled confusion.

The Evangelical Environmental Network supports this new standard and is thankful that both EPA and the Corps of Engineers listened to the comments and concerns from farmers, ranchers, businesses, and over 70,000 pro-life Christians who offered suggestions during the comment period.  Clean water is a matter of life for all creation. Click here to learn more about our water pollution work.

The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
The Evangelical Environmental Network
New Freedom, PA