Faith groups support legal action
against EPA on climate change
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
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]...support immediate action to stem the emissions that contribute to
"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.