This week, Donald Trump issued an executive order to turn back the clock on the climate progress we have made over the past decade. In addition to directing the EPA to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, this sweeping executive order also attempts to undo methane standards for oil and gas operations, stop federal agencies from considering the impact of climate change in their decisions, and open up federal lands for coal mining.
The issues and impacts of climate change go to the heart of our spiritual values and our call to serve the poor, protect life, and to be good stewards of creation.
Refusing to act on climate and rolling back important protections for our air quality is not only foolhardy, it will cost lives. The Clean Power Plan is estimated to prevent nearly 3,000 premature deaths from respiratory problems, heart disease, and other pollution-related illnesses.
The Clean Power Plan has important provisions to incentivize renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in lower income neighborhoods. It will help bring the benefits of clean energy, like good jobs and lower energy bills, to consumers in those communities. But Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt want to unravel this carefully crafted plan that had the input of millions of Americans through the public comment process. It’s not going to be as easy as they think.
Over the past decade, we’ve made important progress: EPA actions have helped curb pollution from power plants, mileage standards are making our cars more fuel efficient, and we have supported climate vulnerable nations to adapt with our contributions to the Green Climate Fund. We have much more to do, and we should be building on our progress, not reversing it.
We will resist these attempted rollbacks every step of the way. Our faith communities will continue to lead. We will use energy efficiently, install renewable energy on our facilities, and build climate resilient communities. We will support those most in need and those who bear the brunt of climate impacts.
We pray that our government will join us.