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Faith groups support legal action
against EPA on climate change

Washington, DC, September 7, 2006 The National Council of Churches USA (NCC), Church World Service (CWS) and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) have supported the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The case, Massachusetts v. EPA, is set to be heard in the Supreme Court next month. It will determine whether the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide--the main cause of global warming--from motor vehicles.  Currently the EPA claims it does not have such regulating authority.

In the "Friend of the Court" brief filed by the NCC, CWS and NCRLC say, it is "consistent with their spiritual, ethical, and material interests, [to] immediate action to stem the emissions that contribute to climate change."

"A warming climate will cause or aggravate a host of 'natural' disasters, such as hurricanes, droughts, floods, disease epidemics, and wildfires," says the brief. "These disasters have serious consequences for much of humanity, but they threaten most acutely the powerless segments of society:  the poor, the sick, the landless and homeless."

"It is critical to God's creation - our planet and our brothers and sisters on it - that the federal agency charged with protecting the environment take its responsibility seriously," said Cassandra Carmichael, director of the NCC's Eco-justice program.  "As Christians we are obligated to care for creation and our neighbors."

"We're very pleased to join as a Friend of the Court.  In relief and development work it often seems difficult to effect change at the root cause," said Rajyashri Waghray, CWS director of education and advocacy.  "We're hoping that this brief will assist the Court in considering the profound impact that our partners around the world, particularly those who already are extremely vulnerable, would suffer as a result of factors linked to climate change."   

The 46 page brief found its authority in scripture:  "...unchecked climate change promises widespread dislocation and suffering for humanity, particularly for those who already struggle for their survival. Christian ethics preaches love of our fellow humans as ourselves, and more particularly, care and compassion for those who are the most vulnerable and needy."  (See Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31-33; Matthew 19:21, 25:34-40; Luke 14:13-14).

The faith groups' Supreme Court action coincided with several other groups filing their own briefs.  An unlikely coalition of environmental groups, energy corporations, ski resort businesses, four former EPA administrators and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright have all supported Massachusetts' effort to legally force the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

CWS News contact:  Lesley Crosson, 212.870.2676,

NCC News contact:  Rev. Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


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