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Christians speak out on
health impact of climate change

Seattle,  May 21, 2009 – Members of the faith community are stepping up and speaking out today at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) public hearing to determine if greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that contribute to global climate change, are a threat to public health and welfare. 

They are turning out to support the EPA’s preliminary finding that greenhouse gases are a form of pollution that threaten the health and welfare of current and future generations, and hope to encourage the EPA to move forward quickly with strong regulations on these pollutants.

According to the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel, Episcopal Bishop of Olympia, “Although some still do not believe that global warming is caused by humans, I am convinced that global warming is an unprecedented threat to God’s good creation, whatever the source. Government, corporations, churches and community groups, as well private citizens, need to join together to face this challenge and significantly reduce our carbon emissions for the sake of all living things on this planet. I am convinced we would live better lives by doing so.  These EPA hearings are an important opportunity to ensure that individual efforts to cut carbon are supported, enhanced, and encouraged by regulations at the federal level.”

In addition to turning out at the hearing, members of the faith community are turning out for a rally taking place at noon today outside of the hearing.  Approximately 25 religious leaders are joining rally speaker Rabbi Zari Weiss on stage, including the Rev. Lisa Domke a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Rev. Rich Lang from Trinity United Methodist Church.  Hundreds of people of faith are expected to join the projected crowd of 2,000 at the rally.

Earlier this week seven religious leaders from various denominations and traditions testified at the EPA’s first hearing in Arlington, Va., and added their voices to the climate change debate.  Several others from areas surrounding DC and Seattle have already submitted written testimony conveying their support for EPA regulation of global warming pollution. The deadline for written testimony is not until June 23, 2009.

“Communities of faith across the country are united in their call to protect human health and air quality by addressing the challenge of climate change," said LeeAnne Beres, Executive Director of Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light. If we allow human-caused environmental disasters like climate change to destroy ecosystems and cause our human brothers and sisters to lose their homes or means to feed themselves, we have truly failed to love our neighbors as ourselves."

This is certainly not the first time people of faith have spoken out about the need for the United States to take strong measures to address greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on God’s creation.  In March of this year, the National Council of Churches delivered a letter to President Obama signed by over 13,000 people of faith asking him to respond to the challenges of global climate change during his administration.

 “People of faith understand that climate change is one of the greatest moral challenges facing us today and that it threatens all of God’s people, especially the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Tyler Edgar, Assistant Director of Climate and Energy for the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program.  For us, climate change is an issue of justice.”

The National Council of Churches is the ecumenical voice of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American and traditional peace churches. These 35 communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.


NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) , pjenks@ncccusa.org

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