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Religious Leaders Call on President Bush to Protect Children's Health
by Opposing EPA Reduction of Mercury Emissions Standards

Washington, D.C., March 16, 2004 - An interfaith group is asking President Bush to protect children and adults from mercury emissions. In a letter sent this morning to the White House, a coalition of religious leaders including representatives from the National Council of Churches USA (NCC), the United Methodist Church, and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) spoke against the proposed rules by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would delay significant reduction in mercury emissions until 2018 or later.

“The present threat to our health and the integrity of God’s creation is clear,” states the letter. “We believe it is unacceptable and immoral to sacrifice our children’s health and their future for the sake of current consumption patterns and lifestyle choices.”

The letter cites recent studies estimating that nearly 15 percent of women of child-bearing age have blood mercury concentrations higher than the level considered safe for fetal development - putting as many as 630,000 newborns each year at risk for serious developmental impairment.

“We believe every child is a precious gift from God,” says John Hill, economic and environmental justice program director for the General Board of Church and Society at the United Methodist Church. “Protecting them from these toxic pollutants is our moral and religious responsibility.”

The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting public comments until April 30 on its proposal to delay significant reductions of toxic mercury emissions from power plants for 15 years or longer. Power plants are the number one source of domestic mercury pollution and the only major source still unregulated by the EPA.

According to Hadar Susskind, the Washington representative of COEJL, “Unsafe levels of toxic mercury can cause permanent damage to the developing brain and heart. Children should not have to suffer because the Administration refuses to take the necessary steps to protect them. We believe it is our moral obligation as people of faith to do everything possible to stop this from occurring.”


Media Contact: Leslie Tune, National Council of Churches, 202.544.2350, ext. 11;

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