This is a guest post by Rabbi Warren Stone, Climate Rabbi:
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. 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 HR 2250, misleadingly named the EPA Regulatory Relief Act, 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. The expected impact? According to Sustainable Business News, 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 HR 2401, the TRAIN Act, (Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation), 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 the so-called Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, 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: “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.”
More broadly, 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 breathe, including our most vulnerable, children, the most vulnerable among us. 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. 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.
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 to speak out for the critical importance of clean air for their families. Please ask them to vote against these bills. Congress and industry should never underestimate the power of mothers to act to protect their children and the children of future generations.
Thank you, Climate Rabbi for all you do to protect our children and the planet!
About Climate Rabbi:
Rabbi Warren 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, the Global Advisory Committee for Earth Day Network and is the founding chair of the Central Conference of American Rabbis’ Committee on the Environment. Rabbi Stone represented many national organizations as a United Nations delegate at the UN Conference on Climate Change COP 5 in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 and at UN COP15 in Copenhagen, Denmark 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. In 2010 he participated in the G20 World Religious Leaders Forum in Seoul sponsored by the Global Peace Initiative of Women. He also spoke in Rome at a Vatican and US State Department conference, “Building Interfaith Bridges of Hope: Success Stories and Strategies for Interfaith Action.”