Washington, D.C. – October 10, 2017 – Today, Catholic Climate Covenant expresses profound disappointment with the decision by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to issue a proposed rule to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Without a replacement that meets or exceeds the goals and targets of the current regulation, this repeal will threaten human life and dignity – especially of the poor – and all God’s creation.
Catholic Climate Covenant executive director, Dan Misleh, said, “Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and bishops’ conferences around the world have all accepted the reality of human-forced climate change. And we know that our burning of fossil fuels is among the biggest contributors to this moral dilemma. The solution is not to burn more fossil fuels, but less. The beauty of the Clean Power Plan was its flexibility to allow states to meet carbon reduction targets in meaningful ways. This repeal now throws all of these potential gains into question.”
In his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis, building on the teaching of his predecessors, emphasized, “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy” (26).
The Clean Power Plan sought to reduce carbon pollution from America’s largest source, the power sector, by 32 percent by 2030. By some estimates, a fully implemented Clean Power Plan could have prevented: 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths; 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children; and 2,700 to 2,800 hospital admissions.
Shortly after the release of the CPP, Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, then chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said, “A new national standard to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants is an important step forward to protect the health of all people, especially children, the elderly, and poor and vulnerable communities, from harmful pollution and the impacts of climate change.” And today, Bishop Frank Dewane, current chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development said, “Having already withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, this change in course by the EPA solidifies the already troubling approach of our nation in addressing climate change, and places at risk many people, including the poor who can least bear the consequences of inaction.”
Also today, Dan Misleh said, “Administrator Pruitt’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan will likely increase premature deaths and put public health—particularly in poorer neighbourhoods near power plants—at risk across the United States. The decision will also exacerbate human-forced climate change that disproportionately harms the poor and marginalized at home and around the world. As people of faith committed to protect human life and promote human dignity, especially of the poor and vulnerable, we are deeply disappointed by this action and call on the Trump administration to re-evaluate this decision and keep the air clean and healthy for all.”
Catholic Climate Covenant inspires and equips Catholic people and communities to care for creation and care for the poor. Through our seventeen national partners, we guide the U.S. Church’s response to climate change by educating, giving public witness, and offering resources.