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January 30, 2002, NEW YORK CITY The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has honored the National Council of Churches work for environmental justice by granting its director, the Rev. Richard L. Killmer, one of its 20 EPA Climate Protection Awards for 2002. The award -- to be presented March 25 -- recognizes exemplary efforts and achievements in protecting the climate.
Killmer (right) provides staffing to the NCCs Eco-Justice Working Group, whose representatives from 23 Protestant and Orthodox denominations carry out an extensive program helping people of faith engage in environmental issues. Ironically, Killmer and the Working Group are critical of much of the Bush Administrations energy policy.
Formed in 1983, the Eco-Justice Group seeks to support and assist denominational and ecumenical work to protect Gods Creation. It publishes resource materials for congregations, including an annual Earth Day resource that it mails to tens of thousands of congregations.
It sponsors a Web site (www.webofcreation.org/ncc/Workgrp.html), an Environmental Justice Covenant Congregations program, and biennial conferences for environmental justice leaders. The Working Group also has created several programs for the historic black denominations.
Among the achievements which earned the EPA award are interfaith climate change campaigns in 18 states across the nation, which Killmer and the Working Group have organized in cooperation with state ecumenical and interfaith agencies, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.
The campaigns seek to help people of faith see global warming as a religious issue and to encourage individuals, congregations and governments to do something about it.
An initial campaign was tested in Ohio in 1998 including educational, lifestyle, public policy and media strategies. In 1999, with the Ohio campaign as a model, the effort was expanded to four additional states Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Iowa.
With campaigns still ongoing in those five states, 11 new states began organizing around the climate change issue early in 2000: Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin. Early in 2001, Colorado and Texas joined them.
The campaigns convey the message that people of faith have a moral responsibility to educate, organize and advocate for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The 18 state campaigns have educated congregations on this issue, encouraged and enabled congregations to use less energy through conservation and energy efficiency, educated the public, and shared concerns with federal and state legislators.
The NCC Eco-Justice Working Group and the 18 state climate change campaigns have called on nations to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocols), which the Bush Administration has rejected.
They also have been critical of the Bush-Cheney energy plan, which they say would provide tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to the coal, oil, gas and nuclear industries; open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other sensitive areas to oil and gas drilling, weaken environmental protections for other public lands, do little to improve automobile fuel economy standards, and only partially fund renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.
The EPA Climate Protection Award will be presented to Killmer at a dinner the evening of March 25 during the Earth Technologies Forum in Washington, D.C.
The awards were evaluated by EPA staff and judged by an international panel representing industry, government and international non-governmental organizations, according to the EPA, which made the final selection of the award winners, who come from five countries: Canada, Chile, Italy, Japan and the United States.
The Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, said, This award indicates the effectiveness of denominations working together through the NCC on concerns that are important to people of faith. We are proud of Rich and happy for this recognition of his role in our important work together.
I accept this award on behalf of all people who have worked hard to protect the climate, Gods creation and all of Gods children, said Killmer, a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who lives in Princeton, N.J.
Worth noting: the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection: Division of Science, Research and Technology also is among EPA 2002 Climate Protection Award recipients.
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