At a public hearing on the EPA’s plan to roll back the Clean Power Plan that requires states to reduce emissions from power plans, the Rev. Michael Malcom of Rush Memorial UCC in Atlanta delivered the following remarks.
The Clean Power Plan is projected to prevent 90,000 asthma attacks, 300,000 missed work and school days, and 3,600 premature deaths annually by 2030. Repealing these standards means more sick kids, more expensive hospital visits, and thousands of premature deaths that could have been prevented. Now, I realize in me standing here today that I am one lone voice. However, I bring with me the generations that will come after me as I ask the question, “What about the children?” Is anyone thinking about the generations to come? Growing up I was taught that you always leave a space better than how you found it. I must ask this morning, how are we leaving creation? Are we so focused in the present that we refuse to look beyond our present and take a look at the future?
At this point, creation care becomes a moral response and is no longer regulated by industry or profit. Please know that we have a moral obligation to care for and protect our children and future generations by addressing the effects of climate change and carbon pollution, especially as they wreak havoc on the poorest and most vulnerable among us. If we would look up, we will discover that repealing the Clean Power Plan will also slow down our transition to clean energy, which is good for our economy and creates jobs. It will expose Americans to more dangerous pollution from power plants and will make climate change worse.
I stand this morning with thousands of clergy and communities of faith representing Interfaith Power & Light’s network of 20,000 congregations who stand in support of the Clean Power Plan and other efforts to safeguard our climate, our health, and all of Creation. I stand with a message that is really quite simple: if we love our neighbors, we won’t pollute their air or water. We do realize that coal miners are affected, and we stand with the coal miners as well. Therefore, as we look for cleaner energy solutions, we must simultaneously work to address the economic challenges faced by coal miners and their families in this transition. We can do both, and it doesn’t require a false choice between economic protections and health protections. At the end of the day, American innovation can solve the challenge of reducing the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change and threatens our health and economy. We do not have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. We can have both if we put our energy into making this world better than we found it.