President Obama just took the most significant step to address climate change that we’ve ever seen out of the White House: he introduced the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean Power Plan, which will cut our carbon pollution from power plants 30 percent by 2030. And while no plan is perfect, this is something to celebrate. The real work still lies ahead — first, as the plan is open for public comment this summer, and then as each state creates its own implementation plan.
The rule is flexible, and the targets could be stricter, but this is the first time our nation has treated carbon as a serious pollutant.
Here at Sojourners, our Creation Care campaign offers you a way to make your voice heard at the EPA. And we’re not alone in caring about this as people of faith. Here are what some of our fellow Christians, including Rev. Jim Wallis, have to say about the EPA’s new action:
“In our effort to ensure justice for all of God’s people and serve as stewards of God’s creation, we must do all that we can to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. The proposed carbon rule will be an important piece of our collective efforts to live out this call.”
- Tyler Edgar, Creation Justice Ministries (affiliated with National Council of Churches)
"The earth is the Lord’s, and in Genesis, God entrusts us with caring for Creation. The earth that we leave to future generations is already being changed by climate change, and so far, our nation has done little to stop climate pollution. The Clean Power Plan is a great step forward for our country in taking climate change seriously. It’s clear that President Obama cares about the legacy he leaves to today and into future generations. While there is a lot more that can and should be done by this Administration and by Congress, President Obama deserves our appreciation for embracing the common good and taking such a big step to preserve the earth for our grandchildren’s grandchildren."
- Rev. Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners
"I am gratified to hear of EPA's new proposed rules to reduce carbon emissions, since we have been largely failing to fulfill our obligations as stewards of God's creation for quite some time. Climate change disproportionately targets the materially poor, as well as other groups who lack the ability to cope with the changes we are already seeing. Because climate change is a preventable phenomenon with worldwide consequences, it is past time for the U.S. to do its part in reducing the adverse effects of fossil fuel use. I look forward to this issue becoming a greater national priority for all of us."
- R. Darrell Smith, PhD, Executive Director, Global Environmental Relief
“From the overseas missions perspective, the new EPA emissions plan is as much about America re-assuming global leadership in climate action as it is about domestic air quality and energy policy. Not only have the poor and vulnerable nations been hoping for renewed leadership on our part, but so have China, India, and Brazil. In this way the new EPA plan has a global multiplier effect, and helps us better love our neighbors (as God the Creator understands neighborhoods and neighborliness) and better bless the nations (as Christ the Redeemer understands blessing and our missions mandate.) I encourage all American followers of Christ to support this new proposal. All regulation and legislation of course requires a share of critique and revision, but at this moment in history, it is crucial that we approach this proposal in good faith, and according to the most elemental principles of the faith.”
- Lowell Bliss, Eden Vigil
“The actions of the EPA on Monday, on behalf of the Obama Administration, were unprecedented. Never before has an administration said so clearly to the American people and to the world, ‘Climate change is real and we plan to do something about it.’ The Clean Power Plan has the potential to significantly reduce U.S. carbon emissions, to avoid thousands of pollution-related deaths and diseases every year, and to spur technological innovation that could chart the course toward a sustainable energy future once and for all. It is also only one, small step along the long and winding road toward global climate mitigation and adaptation.”
- Kyle Meyaard-Schaap
"Any move forward to lower greenhouse gas emissions by the U.S. is welcome. This is a ground-breaking action. Because climate change is a contentious issue in the U.S., I imagine views on this new EPA proposal will vary wildly! However, the recent National Climate Assessment Report highlighted the fact that ocean acidification, sea level rise and changes in climate are occurring now and affect Americans as well as the rest of the world. A changing climate affords opportunities as well as risks. Consequently, understanding the science and moving forward will enable Americans to take advantage of new opportunities to be leaders in in alternative energy technology, efficiency research, and adaptation that we will not access if do not recognize that humans are affecting the earth's energy balance. It will be difficult to get a country as diverse in views as America all on the same page about anything. However, if we can take action on lowering greenhouse gas emissions, it will help the U.S. lead in the world, and in the end, preserve options for future generations. "
- Dr. Dorothy Boorse, Academy of Evangelical Scientists and Ethicists and Professor of Biology, Gordon College
“The EPA has made a great step forward with this proposed rule to eliminate one of the largest sources of dangerous carbon pollution across this country. WE ACT is looking forward to working with the EPA, state and local leaders, and environmental justice (EJ) organizations across the country to help embed climate equity principles into state-by-state frameworks that will be developed to meet the new standards. We know that reducing pollution of any kind will make breathing easier for our children and elderly that are burdened with asthma and other cardio-respiratory challenges.”
- Peggy Shepard, Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
“In order to secure the vision of a healthy planet for future generations, faith communities around the nation are seeking ways to reduce their carbon emissions through energy efficiency and clean energy projects. We ask that utilities join us to find ways to reduce carbon and other harmful air pollutants from our air so that we can protect human health and prevent the worst impacts of climate change, which fall most heavily on those in poverty and communities of color.”
- Cassandra Carmichael, Executive Director, National Religious Partnership for the Environment
Liz Schmitt is Creation Care Campaign Associate for Sojourners.