The federal Environmental Protection Agency recently issued proposed standards to limit the amount of mercury and other toxins emitted by power plants into the air. That move has won praise from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association and the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change.
“Children, inside and outside the womb, are uniquely vulnerable to environmental hazards and exposure to toxic pollutants in the environment,” said a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson from Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. “Their bodies, behaviors and size leave them more exposed than adults to such health hazards. Furthermore, since children are exposed to environmental hazards at an early age, they have more extended time to develop slowly progressing environmentally triggered illnesses.”
“Our position on controlling pollution from power plants is rooted in the Catholic Church’s teachings on the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life — especially in regards to the poor and vulnerable who disproportionately bear the brunt of environmental degradation,” said Sister Carole Keehan, a Daughter of Charity and CHA’s president and CEO, in her letter to Jackson supporting the proposed standards. “We encourage the EPA to adopt strong air quality policies in order to protect the health and welfare of both people and the planet, and we oppose industry and congressional pressure to weaken the proposed rules.”
“The links between mercury and human development, especially in the womb, are clear, and consistently pro-life Catholics should welcome these rules as a way to reduce the harm for our youngest citizens,” said Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, in an email to Catholic News Service. “As climate change unfolds, I hope more Catholics will begin to make the connection between the way the U.S. generates most of its electricity and the need to conserve God’s beautiful creation.”