The Common Good

'Testifying to the Truth': EPA Testimonies (Part Two)

Editor’s Note: This post contains two of many testimonies given at an Environmental Protection Agency listening session at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. The EPA held sessions in 11 regional offices across the country to allow the public to comment on the agency’s plans to begin regulating carbon dioxide emissions — one of the heat-trapping pollutants that contributes to climate change — from existing coal and natural gas-fired power plants. The public was invited to share up to three minutes of spoken testimony to an EPA panel for the agency’s consideration.

Peter Adriance, Representative for Sustainable Development, Baha’is gives testimony to the EPA. Photo:Joey Longley/Sojourners

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Peter Adriance, Representative for Sustainable Development, Baha’is of the U.S.

Good morning. I’m Peter Adriance, Representative for Sustainable Development for the Bahá'ís of the United States. I’m pleased to be among the several representatives of faith communities here speaking in strong support of EPA’s efforts to develop carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. 

As President Obama has pointed out, the climate issue is not only a technical one. In his words, “We have a moral obligation to future generations to leave them a planet that is not polluted and damaged.” We in the faith community would, of course, agree. But it is not only future generations that will bear the impacts of climate change. They are being felt now, most intensely by those populations around the world who are least able to cope with them. We must act with great conviction and haste to move toward solutions.

The central principle of the Bahá'í Faith is the oneness of humankind. This principle has deep implications for policy in many arenas. It should guide us to seek solutions that are equitable and just, treating all people as members of one human family. I believe that to be effective, the carbon standards established by EPA over the next several months must be animated by this foundational principle.

People of faith across the country are collaborating to reduce their emissions through energy conservation measures and the purchase of green power. They are putting their heads and hearts together to address this issue. Today in Hartford, Connecticut, for instance, representatives of many faith communities, including Baha’is, are meeting for a Climate Stewardship Summit. Such cooperative efforts can make a difference. But this is only a part of what is needed. In order to make real progress, national policies need to be set to address major sources of emissions. The setting of carbon standards for power plants is an important move in that direction.

The Obama Administration’s release of the President’s Climate Action Plan this past June was a major step forward. As the report notes, power plants are the largest concentrated source of emissions in the United States, accounting for one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Strong carbon standards across the board will help to substantially reduce emissions from these sources. Such standards should be based on the most recent climate science and designed to achieve the emissions reduction targets that are necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. 

As a father of three and someday I expect, a grandfather, my hope is that we can leave the world in better shape than we find it now, a world in which my children (indeed all children) will be able to lead safe, productive, and healthy lives. Setting strong carbon standards for power plants is one critical step toward that goal. I thank EPA for its efforts in that regard.

Peter Adriance is the Representative for Sustainable Development, Baha’is of the U.S.

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