• Evangelicals Praise Senate For Protecting the Unborn from Mercury Pollution

    June 20,2012, 09:17 AM

    WASHINGTON, DC - In a full vote Wednesday morning the Senate rejected a measure intended to roll back the EPA's implementation of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), a rule that would limit mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants.

    "Today is a great day for our kids and the unborn. The U.S. Senate did the right thing by rejecting efforts to kill mercury regulations at the expense of our children's health," said the Rev. Mitch Hescox President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). "20 years was too long to wait but we've finally done the right thing by regulating mercury from power plants for the first time."

    Since 2005, EEN has worked to overcome the mercury poisoning of the unborn. In the last year EEN has run a media campaign featuring radio, TV, and billboard ads, as well as emails to over 10 million evangelicals and Catholics, in key states to raise public awareness of the dangers of mercury and urging Christians to contact their elected officials to protect the unborn from this poison.

    "I'm especially thankful for the bi-partisan leadership of Senators Alexander (R-TN), Casey (D-PA), and Pryor (D-AR) for voting for life" said Rev. Hescox.

    EEN has worked with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and over 100 senior evangelical leaders to lift up the impacts of mercury on the unborn. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 1 in 6 children in the United States are born with harmful levels of mercury.

  • EEN Op-Ed in the Hill Today

    June 18,2012, 20:12 PM

    EEN's President, Mitch Hescox, shares thoughts on mercury poisoning of our unborn babies and infants in the Hill newspaper today. Click here for the full piece.

  • [Action Alert Mercury and the Unborn]

    June 13,2012, 06:11 AM

    Next week the U.S. Senate is likely to vote on a resolution which would strike down EPA's Mercury Air Toxics Standard for Utilities (Utility MACT). The resolution of disapproval is being sponsored by Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma. These resolutions have the ability to nullify any similar rule making on pollution covered by the Utility MACT (for background on these sorts of resolutions click here).

    In our view the Utility MACT is 20 years too late. While the EPA has waited to implement this rule up to one in six children are born exposed to toxic mercury. The unborn child is exposed to mercury when their mothers eat fish with doses of mythlmercury that can be harmful causing brain damage, lowered intelligence, and other neurological disorders. The level of mercury exposure for the unborn child is twice that of the mother as there is no easy way for the unborn child to rid itself of mercury. This sort of mercury is emitted by coal-fired power plants. Utility MACT would reduce the mercury emitted by over 90%.

    Won't you take a moment to contact your Senator? Urge your Senator to vote no on Senator Inhofe's CRA on Utility MACT.

    Click here to find out who your Senators are and how to contact them

    If you contact an office please let us know at support@creationcare.org.

    .For more information about mercury and the unborn click here.

  • Are We Poisoning Our Children? [A Q Ideas Conversation]

    April 03,2012, 08:25 AM

    Gabe Lyons of the Q, a learning community that mobilizes Christians to advance the common good in society, sits down with Mitch to talk about the mercury, creation care, and much more.

    Don't miss this excellent conversation.

  • Pro-Life, Ensuring the Quality of Life

    February 28,2012, 12:16 PM

    By Mitchell C. Hescox

    Who doesn't know that doctors tell pregnant moms to limit fish consumption during their pregnancy because of mercury? This is basic and lifesaving advice. As a father and now a grandfather, I know the importance of listening to your doctor especially during pregnancy. While eating fish can have tremendous benefits to the baby and the mother, the presence of mercury in fish means that moms have to limit their intake. Mercury can have a devastating impact on the unborn; unborn children who are exposed to mercury, a potent neurotoxin, are at much higher risks for lowered IQ, reduced motor and language skills, cardiac problems and a host of other threats to their life and quality of life. Mercury pollution levels are getting so high that as many as 1 in 6 children in the United States are born with threatening levels of mercury, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.

    For years, the ministry I lead, the Evangelical Environmental Network, has taken a clear pro-life stand, which has extended to protecting our unborn children from this threat. The largest single U.S. domestic source of mercury, 50%, comes from coal burning power plants. Mercury emitted from smoke stacks falls into our waters and enters our food chain through fish. Currently, all 50 states issue fish consumption advisories for high levels of mercury. As the threat of mercury continues to grow, we strongly endorse EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics standard, which protects our children through the reduction of mercury emissions.

    Groups like the National Association of Evangelicals and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as over 100 senior evangelical leaders who signed our common statement, understand that this is a pro-life concern. Anything that would diminish a baby's right to their God given gifts threatens the abundant life that God intended. During my recent testimony before the Energy and Power Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) in an attempt to refute my testimony read the following from a document issued by the Cornwall Alliance that same morning:

    The life in pro-life denotes not quality of life but life itself and only refers to opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies.

    We couldn't disagree more and so do many others. Focus on the Family has produced a wonderful video about defending the sanctity of human life that states:

    Like a new set of glasses that helps us see the world with greater clarity, the value of human life defines how we see and respond to those around us. From the formation of child's first tiny cell to life's final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God. And that is why when we talk about "pro-life," it's not some political issue. It's a world view " it's a life-view"

    We agree with Focus on the Family that to be pro-life is to understand that the "life" message is part of a seamless message upheld in Christian Scripture and in the life of Jesus.

    But we are confused and disappointed that Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family's Vice President for Policy, joined with the Cornwall Alliance statement against protecting our unborn from mercury poisoning. It is this contradictory message of defending the unborn from abortion, but not from powerful industries and donors who profit from mercury pollution that diminishes one's quality of life, that gives the evangelical community a black eye to so many in our society. Many are asking, how can you be pro-life and ignore the impacts of toxins like mercury on the unborn?

    Life is a gift from God and remains sacred in our eyes. Together we stand committed against abortion that terminates the life of over 1.2 million children in the United States each year. We also stand committed to protecting the lives of the millions of children whose lives and ability to reach their God-given potential is threatened by mercury and other hazardous waste. Only by protecting the quality of an unborn child's future from pollution like mercury can we be consistently pro-life. Such consistency is how we begin to transform our culture into one that is seamlessly and totally pro-life.

    Let's stop this politically motivated attack against life and the value of our children. The Cornwall document, quoted by Congressman Shimkus, calls for a cost/benefit analysis, a cost benefit analysis to see if it is worth saving the lives of the unborn. Attempting to force dollar limits on whether to protect life lessens our nation and totally rejects our founders' words of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is unconscionable and shows Cornwall's overt libertarian bent.

    As evangelical Christians let us value all life as a precious God given gift and protect that life, especially the most vulnerable from mercury and other toxins. Bishop Stephen Blaire of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who stated in support of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard, "Who wouldn't want cleaner air and water, it just makes sense." We couldn't agree more.

    Rev. Mitchel C. Hescox is the President & CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • On Grief, Politics, and the Cornwall Alliance

    February 27,2012, 07:19 AM

    by Jeff Greenberg

    I am truly grieved after having read the Cornwall Alliance's (CA) response to Mitch Hescox's testimony before Congress. Even sadder is that the response does not surprise me. The CA folks are consistently hyper-political, abusive of good science, and assuming the undeserved role of speaking for conservative, Bible-believing, Jesus followers. Mitch pleaded with our nation's leaders to change out-of-date technologies that threaten the lives of anyone nearby a coal-fueled power plant. Those facilities are well known for the reality of mercury contamination emanating from exhaust smokestacks. Mercury is bad news for living things, even in very small amounts. The medical problems associated have been documented for many years. The most vulnerable, potential victims of poisoning are the very young, including the unborn, as they receive doses of all sorts of chemicals through their mothers.

    Not only does the CA response blatantly call the EEN (Mitch's organization) liars, but they then make great efforts to educate everyone in the meaning of "pro-life". According to their definition, I am not really pro-life. Apparently your only concern has to be a life and death issue. Children severely disabled by poisoning don't count, because that's a "quality of life" concern. More than grieved, I am sickened by that faulty, heartless logic.

    I want to refute completely everything the CA document asserts. First of all, I AM PRO-LIFE! Just as Saint Paul established his spiritual and cultural credentials against the attack of all opposition, I can offer my background against any on the list of CA response signers. I have four adopted children, two with obvious physical disabilities (and not uncommon targets for abortion) and two with significant, though less apparent "birth defects" of fetal alcohol syndrome, including severe learning disabilities. My wife and I have served crisis pregnancy centers in Wisconsin and Illinois. My wife was a center director, and I have been on centers' boards. We are authors of a book article describing realities of crisis pregnancy ministry. We have spoken before large groups to support adoption and oppose abortion funding (March of Dimes and testimony before the Wisconsin legislature). We have taught classes about the full spectrum of pro-life issues, including loving care for those coerced into abortion. I could go on much further. The CA definition is miserably lacking in accuracy.

    I am also an environmental geologist. My understanding of science and respect for God's good Creation, leads me again to throw an idea back at the CA responders. Put most simply, IF THE ENVIRONMENT SUFFERS, PEOPLE SUFFER. This principle makes complete scientific sense and it is completely supported in the Bible. Even non-human animals know not to defecate in their living areas. Scripture instructs the Israelites to bury their filth and keep unclean things outside the camp. Those coal plants are dropping sickness right into neighborhoods populated by people made in God's image, including the very young and the unborn.

    Finally, I want to hurl back the claim of "disingenuous" and "dangerous" made against Mitch, the EEN and many, many more of us evangelical Christians by association. The CA itself clearly portrays itself falsely. It is in fact a politically and economically stilted association that does not speak for God, the Bible, good science, or multitudes of compassionate people. Unfortunately, in the moral-political world of today, their kind of arrogant rhetoric plays well before too many in Washington, DC.

    Dr. Greenberg has served on Wheaton's faculty for over twenty years. He is married and the father of five children, the older four being adopted.

  • Protecting Lives Matter

    February 17,2012, 09:53 AM

    by Brittany Bennett

    Recently, the Evangelical Environmental Network took up an initiative to protect the lives of unborn children from the harmful impacts of mercury pollution. 1 in 6 children are born in the U.S. with harmful levels of mercury in their blood. This harm could have been prevented, and can still be reduced for the sake of our children.

    In an Energy & Commerce hearing last week, the Rev. Mitch Hescox gave testimony on the need to protect the unborn from mercury. It was not surprising to learn that certain Senators and members of Congress spoke out against this rule while ignoring the moral imperative raised by evangelicals in the pro-life community, as it's not seen as the most industry-friendly. It has been unfortunate to see an attack led against EEN, the National Association of Evangelicals, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and over 100 senior evangelical leaders by a handful of self-proclaimed "pro-life leaders" and fellow Christians.

    The negative reaction has been centered on the definition of "pro-life". While claiming to share similar concerns about pollution, they say it is the words used to frame the conversation which are most important. I disagree.

    For those of us who've been picking up on this in the church and in the news, we're finding reasons to be hopeful again. I have personally always found the narrow use of the term's "pro-life" and "pro-choice" to be terribly limiting, which makes it difficult to make any headway when engaging others. From the beginning, words have been manipulated to confuse society, and catalyze conflict to benefit a few politically. The way we have waged the battle on matters of life has done little for the cause. We haven't carried much of the good news in it either.

    I'm disgusted by issues being pitted falsely against each other. With as hyper-partisan as our news and sources of information have become it's almost impossible to agree and move forward. As a young person, I'm so tired of hearing about the politics of pro-life issues, that I'm simply tempted not to care at all. But the fact is, in my heart I care very much. Life is a miracle, and each person contains the image of God. So I'm actually quite upset that I find no place for my voice. If we could just leave this issue on its own, I would be happy to engage, and help lower the number of abortions in this country. But we need to abolish the stereotypes that have been associated with it. We're nearly immobilized as it is.

    My hope is that we could be united in our mission to bring the whole gospel to the whole world, by continuing to look to the life of Christ. Let's put all the hands, the arms, legs, wombs, and everything else together in one respected body. Let's then be awake enough to take a step and offer a healing hand.

  • My Definition of Pro-Life

    February 14,2012, 08:20 AM

    by Kristen Hayes-Yearick

    As a Pro-Life Catholic Mother of three beautiful children, I was surprised by the joint statement released by The Cornwall Alliance about Reverend Mitch Hescox and the Evangelical Environmental Network's mercury campaign. I was shocked when the Cornwall Alliance joint statement declared the definition of Pro-Life as merely an "opposition to a procedure that intentionally results in dead babies."

    I am an ardent Pro-Life and Children's Environmental Health Advocate. In the Cornwall Alliance statement they note that "most environmental causes promoted as pro-life involve little threat to human life itself, and no intent to kill anyone." I have spent the past six and a half years researching environmental toxins and their impact on our born and unborn Children's health. The toxic environmental exposures, like mercury, are directly linked to many life ending, life threatening or life altering diseases in our children.

    Here are just a few statistics on Childhood illnesses that are either triggered and/or exacerbated by environmental toxic exposures:

    • 1 in 3 American children have Allergies, Asthma, ADHD or Autism
    • CDC reports that childhood cancer incidence continues to rise
    • Girls are entering puberty years before previous generations-breast development beginning at the age of 7: increasing their risk for reproductive and breast cancers.
    • Male infertility appears to be on the rise, and studies suggest that more boys are being born with genital malformations.
    • Chronic Childhood illness statistics continue to rise.

     The Cornwall Alliance statement adds:

    "This doesn't mean we should ignore environmental risks. It does mean they should not be portrayed as pro-life. Genuinely pro-life people will usually desire to reduce other risks as well " guided by cost/benefit analysis. But to call those issues 'pro-life' is to obscure the meaning of the term."

    I believe we've heard similar "unplanned pregnancy" arguments from the Pro-Choice movement. Genuinely pro-choice people will usually desire to reduce abortion incidence as well- guided by cost/benefit/convenience analysis. Does the concept sound familiar?

    At what point did the Pro-Life movement start analyzing the sanctity of life on a cost/benefit scale?

    If we're going to determine the importance of protecting our born and unborn children's health in dollar and cents: On May 4, 2011 the Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers revealed the estimated costs on Environmentally-Induced Childhood Disease at $76.6 Billion.

    The Mount Sinai site states: "The researchers found the annual cost in the United States to be an estimated $76.6 billion, representing 3.5 percent of all U.S. health care costs in 2008. The breakdown includes: lead poisoning ($50.9 billion), autism ($7.9 billion), intellectual disability ($5.4 billion), exposure to mercury pollution ($5.1 billion), ADHD ($5 billion), asthma ($2.2 billion), and childhood cancer ($95 million)."

    Dr. Trasande also reviewed an earlier study of 1997 data, which was conducted by Philip J. Landrigan, MD, and documented $54.9 billion in annual costs for Childhood diseases associated with environmental toxins in the United States.

    Marilyn Musgrave, a joint statement signer and Vice President for Government Affairs of the Susan B Anthony List, said, "As a pro-life leader I am amazed that some in the far left environmentalist movement would try to hijack the term 'pro-life' and use it to further their agenda. It is my life's call to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves and work to end abortion in this country. The term pro-life has profound meaning and should not be used deceitfully in this way."

    As a pro-life Catholic Mother, I am amazed that I am being accused of being a part of the far left environmentalist movement with the implied insidious goal of hijacking the term 'pro-life' to further my agenda. I am acting according to God's will for me to be a voice for our born and unborn children. I work tirelessly to defend and protect God's children from abortion and environmental toxins. I do this because I've been called to do it. I am not making a statement to protect my major donors' profit margin. There is an agenda here, but it's not mine.

    The term pro-life has a very profound and personal meaning to me. I would never use it in a deceitful way. I had an unplanned pregnancy and I chose life. I never saw my daughter as a 'choice' because I believe in the sanctity of all life- from conception to natural death. I saw her as a gift from God. I can look into my daughter's eyes and see the gift that God gave me, but I can also see pain"real pain. My children's health was harmed by environmental toxins. I look into my children's eyes and I see the gifts from God and the damage done by greed, ignorance and negligence. I look into their eyes and I can see God's Grace and what human political posturing and polarization does to our born and unborn children's health. I look into their eyes and I can see God's will and how adults have failed to protect them. I can look into their eyes and see God's pure love and human egos, labels, preconceived notions and reckless, territorial-sanctimonious rhetoric that is threatening the health of our unborn and born children. I can look into their eyes and see God's plan and what we should be doing together"as one--to protect His most valuable and vulnerable population, His children. The only agenda that I follow is God's agenda.

    What would you do if your children's health was damaged or threatened by environmental toxins? Would you continue defend and protect the industries that donate to your organizations or your child?

    As a Catholic, I believe that we have a moral obligation to protect God's children and creation. As a Mother, I can't silently watch our most vulnerable and valuable population, our born and unborn children, losing or fighting for their lives through abortion or environmental toxins. It's a matter of life.. I am Pro-Life!!

    Kristen Hayes-Yearick is the founder of Protecting the Sanctity of All Life Movement

  • Life Affirmation: The Motivating Principle of Christian Ethics

    February 13,2012, 12:35 PM

    by Dean Ohlman

    This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

    Truly the righteous attain life, but whoever pursues evil finds death (Proverbs 11:19).

    Over the past twenty years I've been formulating a biblical worldview that I can present in graphic form in a PowerPoint presentation. It started almost by "chance" [is there really such a thing?!] as I sat in on a staff meeting at the World Vision Relief and Development headquarters in Monrovia, CA. The staff seminar speaker that day was from WV's Australia office. He drew a triangle, which he called the "relationship triangle," with God at the top corner, people at the bottom left corner, and the earth at the bottom right corner. Then he listed the relationships among the three entities: Between God and People was fellowship. Between God and the earth was ownership. Between people and the earth was stewardship.

    At the time I was founding president of the Christian Nature Federation (no longer in existence) and had been invited by Paul Thompson, VP for World Vision Relief and Development, who had asked me to spend a couple days a week at the office as a consultant on Christianity and the environment (which would now be termed "creation care"). Although the presentation was on the activity of World Vision, it struck me as the absolute best foundation for the biblical worldview regarding the relationships of all the entities related to creation care. You can find the eventual presentation at this URL.

    Over the years as I continued to hone the presentation, an important truth struck me as I was fleshing out the meaning of the right relationships among God, people, and the earth (nature, creation). I was developing a list of what behaviors would likely result from right relationships. When I studied Scripture and had a fairly substantial list, this summarizing thought struck me: "Life-affirmation is the motivating principle of Christian ethics." The whole thrust of God's creating and sustaining work on earth is the perpetuation of life and health"materially and spiritually. Genesis is about the beginning of life and life's purposes"human, animal, and plant life. God the Father designed the cosmos for the existence of life, God the Holy Spirit gave and continues to give it life, and God the Son is the Creator and Sustainer of life. This is the way of truth, life, and light. From the Scripture we can ascertain that the behaviors below, among others, would characterize life-affirming conduct.

    1. Worshiping and obeying God, Who is the eternal and supernatural source of life
    2. Acting as attendant and steward of the creation, which is the temporal and natural source of life
    3. Working heartily to gain sustenance for life and glorifying God through the expression of creative activity
    4. Confining sexual intercourse to the nurturing bounds of marriage (male and female) for life's procreation and conjugal fulfillment
    5. Recognizing that sexual intercourse in the bounds of holy matrimony is an intimate sacrament of unity exclusively between male and female (no procreation of life outside of God's creative order).
    6. Nurturing human life from conception to adulthood
    7. Avoiding murdering, torturing, being violence, carrying out terrorism and unjust warfare, and causing unnecessary animal suffering and death
    8. Practicing behavior that is healthful (life-perpetuating) and attending to the healing of those who suffer
    9. Sharing of the earth's resources among all people, attending to the poor and disenfranchised, and practicing sacrificial giving
    10. Depending upon God and the Body of Christ (church) for life's security
    11. Avoiding sinful, life-threatening behavior and lovingly admonishing those who sin
    12. Affirming, proclaiming, and celebrating the life-giving truth found in both the special and general revelations of God (God's Word and God's works)

    Alternatively, we have behaviors that would mark the way of deception, death, and darkness:

    1. Worshiping idols, self, and/or the creation and disobeying God, who is the eternal source of life
    2. Abusing the creation, which is the temporal and natural source of life
    3. Being lazy and suppressing or abusing creative activity; "saving labor" at the expense of human health and the health of the creation.
    4. Indulging in unrestrained sexual intercourse outside the bounds of marriage for "recreation," mere self-gratification, and to abuse others.
    5. Members of the same gender indulging in sexual intercourse"thereby proscribing the Creator's purpose to unite male and female for intimate companionship, conjugal fulfillment, procreation, and child rearing (in short, the perpetuation of a healthful human race).
    6. Destroying and threatening human life through abortion, incest, abuse, and neglect
    7. Murdering, torturing, being violence, carrying out terrorism and unjust warfare, and causing unnecessary animal suffering and death
    8. Practicing behavior that is unhealthful and life-threatening, and neglecting those who suffer
    9. Hoarding the earth's bounty and neglecting the poor and disenfranchised; abusing charitable giving
    10. Depending upon money and personal strength and wit for personal security
    11. Denying personal sin and encouraging others to sin
    12. Rejecting and misusing the truth and suppressing or ignoring both the special and general revelations of God (God's Word and God's works)

  • In support of ALL my pro-life brethern

    February 10,2012, 14:26 PM

    by Lowell Bliss

    I have appreciated the Mercury Campaign of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). In fact, my first exposure to EEN was in the form of a photo showing their leaders marching in a 2005 pro-life rally carrying a banner which declared "Stop Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn." Their pro-life stance, therefore, is not some dishonest, bait-and-switch innovation to support current EPA legislation, which is how they have been accused. No, a value for life and for the unborn is something our brothers and sisters at EEN have carried in their hearts. The recent opposition to EEN is embodied in statements by the Cornwall Alliance with signatories who identify themselves as "leaders of the pro-life movement." Those statements have been publicized by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and are to the effect that EEN has dishonestly "hijacked" the term pro-life to appeal for the approximately 1 in 6 children in the U.S. who are born with threatening levels of mercury.

    You know, the only article in the school newspaper that I remember from my freshman year at Georgetown University in 1981 was actually a letter to the editor from a woman student who was examining how her worldview had just changed. She had heard a visiting speaker on campus who was billed as pro-life and anti-nuclear proliferation. This was at a Catholic university during the early years of the Reagan administration, at the height of the Cold War. The student writer of the letter to the editor noted the disparate political agendas: conservative anti-abortion, leftist anti-nukes. But she was struck by just how consistent it was. If the issue is the "Sanctity of Life," then what is the difference between an innocent life extinquished by dilation and curettage and one lost to radiation poisoning? A toxic environment can kill as effectively as an abortion provider.

    The one time I was written up in the school newspaper of my other under-graduate school, Moody Bible Institute, was when I found a megaphone put in my hands and was told to take over a pro-life rally in downtown Chicago. Now twenty-five years after both G.U. and MBI, with a heart for pro-life as strong as that of EEN and the Cornwall Alliance, here are the five things I want to say about the opposition statements.

    1. There is no copyright on the terminology of pro-life and if it gets treated as just so much brand protection, then the whole movement loses its power to inspire. And who says that pro-life means "this and nothing else"? I hate when press releases from Washington refer to "evangelical leaders""whether environmental, pro-life, or otherwise. When is the last time any of us have actually stopped to inquire of the Head of the Church: "What do you mean by the sanctity of human life?"

    2. Surely there is more to "Life" than "not-Death," just as there is more to health than "the absence of sickness." Even in our spiritual life, where Scripture declares us "dead to sin, but alive to Christ," theologians like Dallas Willard warn us against turning our discipleship into simply a necrophiliac system of sin management. But referring back to abortionable and pollutible physical life, I actually identify with the tension that the pro-life signatories feel in their opposition to EEN's use of the term. Maybe that tension is a sign that the Holy Spirit is asking us to humbly address some inconsistencies that makes the movement susceptible to accusations of being "pro-birth," but not truly "pro-life." Similarly, do we want "Pro-Marriage" to devolve into just anti-homosexual political nomenclature without addressing the high rates of divorce, adultery, and domestic abuse in an institution which God says is a symbol of Christ's love for the Church? Even then, surely marriage means more than "not-divorce."

    3. One of the most chilling statements in the opposition is one that the Cornwall Alliance intended to be reassuring. They write, "This doesn't mean we should ignore environmental risks. . . . Genuinely, pro-life people will usually desire to reduce other risks as well"guided by cost/benefit analysis." Isn't cost/benefit analysis how the abortion industry guides its practices? Isn't cost/benefit analysis what the sexually promiscuous employ in using abortion as a birth control measure? When's the last time cost/benefit analysis has adequately served any of our ethical questions? But the Cornwall Alliance will not allow creation care to be considered as an ethical question, only as an economic one. Notice how the press releases of the Cornwall Alliance and Sen. Inhofe gravitate quickly to an issue never mentioned in the signatories's statement, namely economic concerns over EPA regulations.

    4. Not surprisingly, the message of consistency can work both ways in bringing glory to God and ending abortion-on-demand. The same question could be posed to the environmentalists who were demonized in Senator Inhofe's press release. EEN could say to them, "Hey, you've been working with us on mercury poisoning, but if the core issue is Life, how is death-by-toxicity any different than death-by-procedure?" I can't remember precisely but that Georgetown editorial writer may just as easily have come from anti-nukes into pro-life, as the other way around. My opinion is that EEN is offering an outreach strategy to a pro-life movement which admittedly appears stalled in its attempt to persuade American culture. So great an anti-abortion warrior as Francis Schaeffer was also the author of the creation care classic Pollution and the Death of Man. This theologian had one great avocation: chasing every thought"whether evangelical or humanist"through to its logical conclusion.

    5. Finally, I would like all of us to recognize that the Cornwall Alliance was founded in a moment of direct opposition to the Evangelical Climate Initiative, and even in opposition to certain NAE documents and to EEN in particular. In other words, although Sen. Inhofe calls Cal Beisner a "pro-life leader," and even though Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance no doubt feel as strongly about the sanctity of life as, no doubt, Mitch Hescox and EEN do, the Cornwall Alliance can't be characterized in the same category as their signatories, i.e. as a pro-life organization. In this way, in this instance of opposition, how is the Cornwall Alliance doing anything different than what they accuse EEN of doing? Aren't they also using pro-life terminology to promote an environmental message, in this case, an anti-one?

    Cal Beisner came into the Cornwall Alliance as an accomplished professor of Apologetics. Mitch Hescox came into EEN as an accomplished pastor of a local church. I've been told that Dr. Beisner is frustrated because EEN won't schedule public debates. I've been told that Rev. Hescox is frustrated because Cornwall Alliance won't sit down for private cups of coffee. Despite my creation care leanings, I attribute it to a widely-accepted biblical understanding of relations between brothers in Christ that my sympathies in these frustrations lie with Mitch. Let's everyone not be so quick to run to the press office, and certainly not with words about brothers in Christ like "disingenuous, dishonest, absurd, deceitfully, misleading."
    __________

    Lowell Bliss is a father of three children, and the host of the Agabus Project Podcast. He and his wife were missionaries for fourteen years in India and Pakistan.

  • High Levels of Mercury Found in North Shore Babies

    February 06,2012, 13:10 PM

    A new study by the Minnesota Department of Health has found that 1 in 10 babies along Minnesota's North Shore are born with unhealthy levels of mercury in their bodies. Unborn babies are exposed to mercury through fish consumed by pregnant mothers. In the area of study eating fish with high mercury concentration like walleye was a likely avenue for exposure. Be sure not to miss the complete story in the Minnesota Star Tribune.

  • Increased Mercury Exposure in Wildlife

    January 24,2012, 15:34 PM

    A new study by the Biodiversity Research Institute sheds newlight on the level of mercury in ecosystems throughout the northeast. The study titled "Hidden Risks" found dangerously high levels of mercury in several bird species across the Northeast. The study indicates that mercury is having a devastating impact across the ecosystem as exposure levels were high among bird species despite the distance from coal burning power plants.

    The New York Times also had a piece on the report and quoted Dr. David Evers, the Executive Director of the Institute as saying, "We're seeing many other species in a much larger landscape of harm from mercury."

    In the case of the wood thrush bird the study noted that the decline "may include forest destruction and fragmentation, as well as acid rain. The combination of high mercury levels in areas with acid rain may combine to create a '1-2 punch' that is more damaging to the population than either effect in isolation."

  • Promoting a Culture of Life

    January 10,2012, 13:23 PM

    by Alexei Laushkin

    "Children who suffer the most from environmental exposures are those yet unborn because they are the least capable of fending themselves from toxic exposures." So writes the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. View the full statement here.

    In a similar vein Pope John Paul II writes:

    The most profound and serious indication of the moral implications underlying the ecological problem is the lack of respect for life evident in many of the patterns of environmental pollution. Often, the interests of production prevail over concern for the dignity of workers, while economic interests take priority over the good of individuals and even entire peoples. In these cases, pollution or environmental destruction is the result of an unnatural and reductionist vision which at times leads to a genuine contempt for man.

    How is it that the most pro-life of the candidates running for the Republican Nomination for President who has a tremendous record of protecting the unborn from a full range of harm, has missed clear Christian teaching when it comes to toxins and their impact on the unborn? Long time pro life activists are asking the same question see this piece in Forbes.

    We realize that the pressures of the campaign put a large burden on any candidate, so that any statement has to be assessed against a career in the public square.

    In total the environment is not a regular focus of the Santorum campaign for President and was never really a top focus while he served in the U.S. Senate. More recently he has spoken out against the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standard saying that the rule was not based on "any kind of science." The science is clear and compelling. Mercury emissions from coal fired utilities harm children. Medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics have been calling for mercury reductions for over twenty five years, and they strongly support the MATS regulation.

    His campaign has called for the elimination of all energy subsidies, we agree, that 60 billion dollars annually could go a long way to protecting our children, yet his proposals to reign in the debt includes this line:

    Cut EPA resources for job killing regulations and return focus to commonsense conservation and safe and clean air and water.

    We believe that you don't get much more commonsense than implementing conservation measures that help to protect the unborn. Up to 700,000 children a year are born with too high levels of mercury in their blood. Our mercury and the unborn position based on the leading medical research clearly demonstrates that mercury poisoning lowers IQ, impairs neurological function, results in developmental delays, and is linked to cardiovascular disease.

    There is no known "safe" level of mercury in our unborn children. Unborn babies and infants are extremely susceptible to mercury, as the blood brain barrier is not yet fully developed. Unlike adults, unborn children have no way to excrete mercury. It just keeps recirculating inside their mother's womb. Medical research indicates that mercury cord blood is twice that of their mothers' blood. Therefore, even if a mother's blood remains below "risk levels" doses, the unborn child's blood does not.

    Beyond mercury, the environmental impact on our children is immense; a 2011 study in the May edition of Health Affairs by Dr. Lonardo Trasande and Yinghua Liu estimated that the health impacts on children in the U.S. was upwards of $76.6 billion annually.

    The unborn are the weakest members of our society. We must protect them and insure their right to an abundant life. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards promulgated in December will provide significant reductions, over 90%, of the mercury contained in the coal that is burned.

    The Evangelical Environmental Network worked with the National Association of Evangelicals and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to get these important safeguards for the unborn. Our prayer and hope is that candidate Santorum long a champion for the unborn will see these efforts as if for the first time.

    Alexei Laushkin is the Senior Director of Communications for the Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • Senate Briefing Remarks by Mitch Hescox, November 30, 2011

    December 16,2011, 07:15 AM
    Luke 18:15-16 (ESV)
    Now they were bringing even infants to him that he mighttouch them.
    And when the disciples saw it, theyrebukedthem. But Jesus called them
    to him, saying,"Letthe children come to me, and do not hinder them, for
    tosuch belongs the kingdom of God.

    Children are precious; they are a gift from God and the most vulnerable members of our society. Those gathered here today from the National Association of Evangelicals, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Evangelical Environmental Network, two different traditions in the Christian community, but together we believe not only is life precious but sacred. Anything that threatens and impedes life, especially impacts on the unborn and young children should be a moral outrage. Mercury poisoning is such an outrage.

    We've waited since the 1990 Clean Air Act to clean up mercury. Because of our foot dragging approximately 1 in 6 children in the United States are born with threatening levels of mercury.[i][ii] The mercury impairs neurological development, lowers IQ, linked to cardiovascular disease, and a host of other potentialadverse health impacts.[iii] These are lifetime effects. The economic loss attributed to reduced IQ from US coal fired power plants equals 1.6 billion per year in 2010 dollars.[iv] When added to the co-public health benefits from particulates and acid rain reductions in the proposed Utility MACT Rule,the health care savings potentially reaches $140 billion per year returning $5 to 13 dollar per $1.00 spent on controls.[v]

    Public opinion continues to support regulations that protect children's health. Yet, Congress has largely ignored public concern and given a free pass to the largest domestic source of mercury pollution, coal fired electric utilities.[vi] Coal electric generation produces 50% of the domestic mercury emissions; yet this sector is currently not required to meet the same emission standards as solid or medical waste incinerators. This is simply wrong.

    No amount of mercury is safe[vii] and more enters the food chain each year. The USGS in its Biannual National Listing of Fish Advisories states that approximately 17million acres of lakes and over 1.2 million miles of rivers have mercury advisories, an of 1.1% (lakes) and 0.2% (rivers) increase from 2008.[viii]

    2011 USGS Fish Advisories
    2011 USGS Fish Advisories

    Currently, the Evangelical Environmental Network is mountinga serious campaign strengthening public concern on mercury and its effects onthe unborn. In six states ranging fromthe northeast, Midwest, and southeast over 10 million emails have been sent to pro-life voters and radio ads are running at saturation rates on over 60 Christian, Country and News/Talk stations with billboards placed in strategiclocation in many states.

    This campaign refutes the fears generated by some that allowing the EPA to perform its Congressional mandated mission will raise utility prices, cost jobs, and decrease electricity reliability.

    Psalm 82:3 (ESV)
    Give justice totheweak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted andthe destitute.

    Our Holy Scriptures calls us to defend the weak, and the weakest, unborn children, pay the greatest cost in not reducing mercury emissions. Some will mistakenly cry out that the poor will be most affected in higher electric rates as the implementation costs will approach 10 billion dollars per year. Ten billion is a huge sum, but distributed per consumer in the United States results in an average maximum cost of $7.00 per month per household. While the poorest might face impacts, the pollution reductions will return $5 " 13 in health benefits for every $1 spent on emission reduction as mentioned previously.[ix]

    Still others will claim massive jobs loss in jobs stillfaltering economy. These facts simply donot add up. EPA modeling provides amodest 31,000 construction jobs and net 9,000 new permanent positions.[x] Nor does it match the conclusion from the Economic Policy Institute, the labor movement's premiere analytical shop. It states: "The toxics rule would have amodest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015."[xi]

    Perhaps the greatest current fear tactic centers on electricity reliability. But utility representatives themselves debunk this. In testimony at EPA's public hearing in Philadelphia, Exelon's Bruce Alexander stated that "nothing about this rule [the mercury regulation] will jeopardize the reliability of the electric system." [xii] Testifying before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, Michael Bradley, representing a coalition of utilities, stated that "we do not believe compliance with the rule willbcompromise the reliability of the electric system."[xiii] The Bipartisan Policy Centers rebuts the reliability question in stating, "While an emergency reliability issue isunlikely and should be preventable with proper planning and oversight, DOE and FERC have authority to address such situations if they arise."[xiv] The November 2011 Clean Energy Group report affirms, "" the electric industry can comply with EPA's air pollution rules without threatening electric system reliability."[xv] Even this week's NERC report that bases it conclusions on more stringent rules than EPA proposes, assumes no new generation capacity, and attributes all plant closing do to EPA regulations states that there are risks but they can be manageable with proper planning and coordination.[xvi]

    One of the greatest joys in my life is being a "pop-pop." Jack is my seven-month old grandson and like me lives in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania, one of the largest mercury emitters, has no state regulations as several years ago the Commonwealth's Supreme Court struck down the state laws as the responsibility of the Federal Government and EPA. One of our greatest prayers is that Jack has not suffered IQ loss or other developmental disability. We pray because many of mercury conditions are not diagnosable for 24 to 48 months post-natal, well after the damage occurs. We stand a good chance because of my involvement and on the advice of her physician, my daughter ate very little fish during her pregnancy. How many will not be as unfortunate, one out of six. That's simply unacceptable to God and itshould be to Congress as well.

    Next week, I understand the House Energy and CommerceCommittee are marking up more legislation to stop the EPA. I pray the Senate is wise enough to put ourunborn children first and stop this terrible threat upon our children.

    The bottom line is children are God's most precious gift. We have a known hazard that impacts each unborn child's life from conception to death, and we must do all we can as a government and as a society to offer our children an opportunityfor an abundant life. To do anything else is simply immortal.

    [i] See Mahaffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary Mercury Intake" Environmental Health Perspectives, 112,#5 (April 2004).
    [ii]Trasande, et al., "Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl MercuryToxicity to the Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590
    [iii] http://www.epa.gov/ttn/ecas/regdata/RIAs/ToxicsRuleRIA.pdf
    [iv] Trasande,et al., "Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl MercuryToxicity to the Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590
    [v] EPA,Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Overview of Proposed Rule andImpacts
    [vi] http://www.lawandenvironment.com/uploads/file/CRS-EPA.pdf
    [vii]Bose-O'Reilly, et. al., Mercury Exposure and Children's Health, Curr. Probl. Pediatr HealthCare, 2010 September: 40(8): 16-18.
    [viii] http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/fishadvisories
    [ix] EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards:Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts, p. 2.
    [x]EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Overview of Proposed Ruleand Impacts
    [xi]Economic Policy Institute, A Lifesaver,Not A Job Killer: EPA's proposed "air toxic rule" is no threat to job growth,Briefing Paper #312 (June 14, 2011): http://w3.epi-data.org/temp2011/BriefingPaper312%20%282%29.pdf.
    [xii] http://www.exeloncorp.com/assets/newsroom/speeches/docs/speech_Alexander_PhilaEPAHearing_110524.pdf
    [xiii]U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee onEnergy and Power Hearing on "The American Energy Initiative" regarding RecentEPA Rulemakings Relating to Boilers, Cement Manufacturing Plants, andUtilities, April 15, 2011. For Bradley'stestimony, go to: http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/041511_2/Bradley.pdf.
    [xiv]Bi-Partisan Policy Center, Environmental Regulation and Electric SystemReliability, June 2011: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/06/13/document_pm_02.pdf.
    [xv] http://www.mjbradley.com/sites/default/files/ReliabilityUpdateNovember202011_1.pdf
    [xvi] http://www.nerc.com/files/2011LTRA_Final.pdf
    ont-. �l:�B 0j( w Roman";mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA'>[xii] http://www.exeloncorp.com/assets/newsroom/speeches/docs/speech_Alexander_PhilaEPAHearing_110524.pdf
    [xiii]U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee onEnergy and Power Hearing on "The American Energy Initiative" regarding RecentEPA Rulemakings Relating to Boilers, Cement Manufacturing Plants, andUtilities, April 15, 2011. For Bradley'stestimony, go to: http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/041511_2/Bradley.pdf.
    [xiv]Bi-Partisan Policy Center, Environmental Regulation and Electric SystemReliability, June 2011: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/06/13/document_pm_02.pdf.
    [xv] http://www.mjbradley.com/sites/default/files/ReliabilityUpdateNovember202011_1.pdf
    [xvi] http://www.nerc.com/files/2011LTRA_Final.pdf
  • An Evangelical Call to Protect Our Unborn From Mercury In Pennsylvania

    December 09,2011, 14:06 PM

    An Evangelical Call to Protect Our Unborn From Mercury

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

    I'm an evangelical Christian. I believe in Jesus Christ and tell his goodnews at every moment I can. I also believe that life is a precious gift from God and do all in my ministry to protect, preserve, and offer the abundant life to all through Jesus.

    I also believe in medicine, public health, and science. I expect my Pennsylvania elected officials to follow sound medical advice when protecting public health. That's why I am so troubled that Governor Corbett, most of our state legislators, and many of our Congressional leaders appear to take the opposite view in protecting our children when it comes to mercury pollution.

    Across our nation, 1 in 6 children are born with threatening levels of mercury in their blood.[i][ii] Mercury poisoning lowers IQ, impairs neurological function, results in developmental delays, and is linked to cardiovascular disease. There is no known "safe" level of mercury in our unborn children.[iii] Unborn babies and infants are extremely susceptible to mercury, as the bloodbrain barrier is not yet fully developed. Unlike adults, unborn children have no way to excrete mercury. It just keeps recirculating inside their mother's womb. Medical research indicates that mercury cord blood is twice that of their mothers' blood.[iv] Therefore, even if a mother's blood remains below "risk levels" doses, the unborn child's blood does not.

    By December 16, 2011 the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) will issue mercury regulations commonly known as "Utility MACT." This regulation would require coal-fired utilities, the largest domestic mercury pollution source, to curb their mercury emissions by 90%. It would also reduce soot and acid gases, resulting in up to 8.2 billion dollars in health savings in Pennsylvania alone.[v]

    Perhaps because Pennsylvania's utilities make us the nation's number two mercury polluter, Governor Corbett and his administration stand against EPA's clean air regulations and have written to President Obama asking him to delay this life saving regulation. This is simply terrible news for the most vulnerable in our society,unborn children.

    While no one wants unnecessary federal regulations, stopping mercury's impacts on our children remains critical, especially here in Pennsylvania. Our state passed its own mercury emission standard several years ago. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found the law unconstitutional,and essentially stated that mercury regulation was the responsibility of the Federal government and therefore the EPA. As a result, Pennsylvanians continue burdened with enhanced levels of mercury pollution, particulates, and acid gases that harm our children. Our rivers and lakes remain polluted with mercury and the threat continues expanding.

    Eleven out of the top fifteen utility executives, including Exelon, have stated they can comply with this mercury regulation.[vi] Medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics have stated:

    We agree with the strong evidence the EPA provides to support their decision that
    the proposed rule is both appropriate and necessary to protect public health "
    Exposure to likely harm from mercury and methylmercury continues,
    as does strong evidence of exposure to multiple, recognized carcinogens
    and other toxics that cause or increase risk of cardiovascular,
    respiratory, and other acute and chronic systemic damage.[vii]

    Yet so many political leaders continue supporting actions that continue harming our children. Their excuses center on costs, jobs, and electricity reliability. Installing mercury controls will be expensive and will cost a maximum of $7.00 per month per household in electric costs. However, our children are worth it, and the medical cost savings from reduced medications, doctor visits, etc. will more than pay the cost. For each dollar spent on pollution controls, medical savings will return anywhere from five to 13 dollars.[viii]

    Jobs won't be effected either. According to Economic Policy Institute's A Life Saver, Not A Job Killer, the EPA regulations would promote modest job growth[ix]. Finally, recent reports from the Departmentof Energy[x], M. J. Bradley and Associates[xi],and National Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)[xii] all state reliability questions are manageable or not a concern.

    The 1990 Clean Air Act, signed into law by the elder President Bush, established the requirement for the mercury regulations that are currently being finalized some twenty years later. Unborn children have waited far too long for protections that should have been theirs years ago.

    As an evangelical Christian, my concern is life. Protecting the most vulnerable from threats that are controllable remains a biblical and moral imperative. Today's world provides enough threats to our children's future. Let's not endanger our children with a substance we can control. Exposing children to mercury poisoning in their mother's womb, a poisoning that will last a lifetime, is simply wrong. Let's work together to put our children first and stop the political games that hurt the least of these. As EPA promulgates the mercury regulations next week, let's rejoice for one-step in protecting our unborn children.

    The Rev. Mitchell Hescox is President of the Evangelical Environmental Network and lives in New Freedom, PA. More information on mercury and the unborn is available at www.creationcare/mercury.

    [i]See Mahaffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary MercuryIntake" Environmental HealthPerspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004).

    [ii]Trasande, et al., "Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl MercuryToxicity to the Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590

    [iii]Bose-O'Reilly, et. al., Mercury Exposure and Children's Health, Curr. Probl. Pediatr HealthCare, 2010 September: 40(8): 16-18.

    [iv]http://ccceh.hs.columbia.edu/pdf-papers/LedermanEHP2008.pdf

    [v]http://www.epa.gov/cleanairactbenefits/whereyoulive/pa.html

    [vi]http://www.mjbradley.com/sites/default/files/ReliabilityUpdateNovember202011_1.pdf

    [vii]http://www.lungusa.org/get-involved/advocate/advocacy-documents/epa-mercury-other-health.pdf

    [viii]EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Overview of Proposed Ruleand Impacts

    [ix]Economic Policy Institute, A Lifesaver,Not A Job Killer: EPA's proposed "air toxic rule" is no threat to job growth,Briefing Paper #312 (June 14, 2011): http://w3.epi-data.org/temp2011/BriefingPaper312%20%282%29.pdf.

    [x]http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2011%20Air%20Quality%20Regulations%20Report_120111.pdf

    [xi]http://www.mjbradley.com/sites/default/files/ReliabilityUpdateNovember202011_1.pdf

    [xii]http://www.nerc.com/files/2011LTRA_Final.pdf

  • Interview with Dr. Phil Landrigan on Mercury and Unborn Children

    October 11,2011, 13:16 PM

    Friends,

    One of EEN's advisers on mercury's impacts on the unborn is Doctor Phil -- but in this case it's Doctor Phil Landrigan (not that other guy). Dr. Landrigan is a pediatrician and one of the world's leading experts on what pollution does to unborn children and young children during their crucial developmental years. He's also a devout Catholic, and a dad and grandad.

    Dr. Landrigan just did an interview for WebMD on mercury and the unborn. We invite you to check it out. Also, be sure not to miss EEN's briefing with Dr. Landrigan on mercury's impact on the unborn.

  • Responding in Love for Our Unborn

    October 11,2011, 09:05 AM

    Responding in Love for Our Unborn

    The Rev.Mitchell C. Hescox

    "If your brother or sister sins,go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you,you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.  (Matthew 18:15-17 NIV)

    Serving as a pastor for almost twenty years, one of the first things I learned was that few people in the church know and even fewer practice the above passage. Every pastor I know has been the subject of numerous parking lot meetings, telephone calls, emails, and even a few letters involving a difference in opinion or understanding.

    The one thing different in my current ministry as President of the Evangelical Environmental Network is that, instead of parking lot meetings, those "well meaning" leaders and church folk use blogs and op-eds on the Internet for sharing their differences. When attacked, I re-read the Book of Acts. In the stories of the Apostle Paul being beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and even left for dead, I find comfort. Paul's travails always put mine in prospective.

    This past week a few brothers and sisters in Christ wrote blogs and opinion pieces deriding my organization and me. They refuse to accept that mercury emitted from coal-fired utilities is a threat to our children and that it is a critically important pro-life issue for me and for more than 100 other evangelical leaders. Forgetting or ignoring the Biblical instruction noted above, these brothers and sisters never once came to me privately. In fact, when I attempted to contact one organization to correct their mistaken view and discuss our position in private, they forwarded my letter to another party who elected to attack me publicly the next day. The attacks have been rather fierce, but the most serious problem is their failure to acknowledge the fact that mercury is a poison to our unborn children.

    One of the body's protective shields against damage to the brain, called "the blood-brain barrier," is not fully developed until the first year of life. Thus, in the unborn child, mercury can cross this incomplete barrier and accumulate in the brain, causing developmental disabilities and brain damage resulting in lowered intelligence and learning problems. This has lifetime implications. One study found that "The resulting loss of intelligence causes diminished economic productivity that persists over the entire lifetime of these children."[i]

    The cause of all the chatter is a proposed EPA rule to be finalized in November that would require utilities to reduce mercury emissions by 90%. Coal fired power plants are the largest single domestic mercury polluter and the basis for this regulation was the 1990 Clean Air Act passed through the efforts of the first President Bush. It has taken twenty years of footdragging by the EPA, Congress, and several Presidential administrations for this regulation to be demanded by the Supreme Court. Twenty years is a long time to wait for protection for the unborn.

    The uproar this week centered on the mercury dose set by EPA. To the best of my knowledge not one of my critics is a medical expert nor is anyone at EEN. But I do trust the American Academy of Pediatrics, the doctors trained medically to care for our children. They wrote:

    We agree with the strong evidence the EPA provides to support their decision that the proposed rule is both appropriate and necessary to protect public health as required under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act. Exposure to likely harm from mercury and methyl mercury continues, as does strong evidence of exposure to multiple, recognized carcinogens and other toxics that cause or increase risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, and other acute and chronic systemic damage.[ii]

    For some perhaps, the attacks stem from fear of government involvement in anything and the EPA in particular. No reasonable Christian wants unnecessary government regulations. But, contrary to what you may have been told or read, many utilities support this regulation of mercury (known as "Utility MACT"). Exelon,Constellation Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, to name a few, are electric power companies that strongly support mercury reductions.[iii] In fact, a large percentage of generating stations have already installed the required pollution equipment either as the result of controlling other pollutants or individual state regulations. Even with the compliance by many utilities, mercury still poses a threat to our unborn and without this regulation toxic mercury levels are projected to increase.

    Corporations, just like people, are fallen and live in a fallen world. Although companies have known for years that these regulations would be issued to protect our unborn, they delayed and stalled in their self-interest, not for the benefit of the 1 in 6 unborn children threatened by mercury poisoning. This is simply sin. Something all of us do far too often.

    The reality of sin is also why I support a reasonably regulated free market. There are libertarians and others who believe in a totally free market; they are the ones speaking the loudest against our position. Consider the unleashing of anarchy if all government and regulation are removed. Try driving on a road without speed limits or eating foods that don't have the proper labeling, especially if you have an allergy. It's simply naïve to believe that corporations, like individuals, will always do the "right" thing. Sin is always present and that why we need Jesus and the delegations of good government He would desire.

    Standing in opposition to laissez-faire economic principles is why several of the posts this week called me a liberal. I have been a registered Republican since I was old enough to vote and, worked for 14 years in the business world. Even though it doesn't really fit, I'm happy to wear the"liberal" label because it's the same derogatory label placed upon the Christian saints I admire most. William Wilberforce, Charles Finney, William Booth, Orange Scott, Luther Lee, and John Wesley were tagged with the same fame. All of these Godly men worked tirelessly, empowered by the Holy Spirit to change society and its laws to end slavery, stop child labor, provide women rights,and protect the poor. As 19th Century, evangelical William Arthur wrote:

    Nothing short of the general renewal of society ought to satisfy any Soldier of Christ " Much as Satan glorifies in his power over the individual, how much greater must be his glory over a nation embodying, in it laws and usages, disobedience to God, wrong to man, and contamination to morals? To destroy all holds of evil; to root out sin out of institutions; to hold up to the view the gospel ideal to the righteous nation " is one of the first duties of those position or mode of thought gives them any influence in general questions. In so doing they are glorifying the Redeemer, by displacing the benignity of his influence over human society, and removing hindrances to individual conversions, some of which act by direct incentive to vice, other by upholding a state of things the acknowledged of which is, "Forget God."

    Satan might be content to let Christianity turn over the subsoil, if he is in perpetuity to sow the surface with thorns and briers; but the gospel is come to renew the face of the earth.[iv]

    Renewal and transformation by Christ for individuals, for institutions, and our nation is at the heart of the gospel. God has called me to this ministry. Having a few brothers and sisters launch a few attacks will not deter me in my calling; too many children face mercury poisoning to worry about being hurt by verbal or written stoning. I will pray for those who attack and will ask God to forgive my anger that, all too humanly, occasionally surfaces.

    Instead of giving any credence to these false attacks, I ask you to consider the facts:

    • One in six unborn children face mercury poisoning in the United States.[v]
    • The largest domestic source for the poison is coal fired electric utilities.
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics confirms the EPA proposed regulation is appropriate and necessary.
    • A large percentage of utilities support the regulation.
    • Organized labor's policy think-tank wrote that the rule was "A Life Saver Not A Job Killer."[vi]
    • A Congressional Research Service Report stated that industry claims were overstated.[vii]

    Children are God's most precious gift and I believe they are worth protecting. Reducing mercury is pro-life no matter how many parking lot conversations or Internet posts say differently.

    _______________________________________________________________________________

    [i]Trasande, et al., "Public Health and EconomicConsequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain," EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives, Vol. 113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590.

    [ii]http://www.lungusa.org/get-involved/advocate/advocacy-documents/epa-mercury-other-health.pdf

    [iii]http://www.exeloncorp.com/assets/newsroom/speeches/docs/speech_Alexander_PhilaEPAHearing_110524.pdf

    [iv] William Arthur, TheTongue of Fire, 1854

    [v] See Kathryn R. Mahaffey et al., "Blood OrganicMercury and Dietary Mercury Intake: National Health and Nutrition ExaminationSurvey, 1999 and 2000," EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004): http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2003/6587/6587.html, and Leonardo Trasande, et al., Public Health andEconomic Consequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain, Environmental HealthPerspectives, Vol. 113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 593; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1257552/pdf/ehp0113-000590.pdf. Mahaffey usedthe 1-in-6 figure in a presentation she made while she was the EPA's topmercury scientist. See http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/forum/2004/presentations/monday/mahaffey.pdf.

    [vi]http://www.epi.org/publication/a_life_saver_not_a_job_killer/

    [vii]http://www.lawandenvironment.com/uploads/file/CRS-EPA.pdf

  • Time Mag Online's Story on Pro-Life Mercury Campaign; passage of TRAIN Act by House

    September 23,2011, 10:37 AM

    Friends,

    We thought you would want to know about some great coverage the evangelical and Catholic efforts to protect the unborn from mercury has received from Time, and urge you to check out the full story here. Below are some excerpts.

    Unfortunately, the bill we are opposing, the TRAIN Act that includes stopping EPA from moving forward on mercury pollution, just passed the House. This is disappointing but expected. We were hoping that more Republicans would vote against, but only 4 were on the right side of this one and voted No. Nineteen Democrats voted the wrong way.

    Excerpts from Time story by Elizabeth Dias:

    You might not expect evangelical Christians to get involved in a political fight over mercury regulations. But when the Environmental Protection Agency proposed in March to tighten limits on industrial mercury emissions, the move caught the attention of an influential group of religious environmentalists who are now butting heads with pro-business Republicans seeking to weaken the regulations with a measure that the House of Representatives is voting on Friday afternoon.

    And

    Not all Republicans in Congress have met the EPA's rules with open arms, however. The House will vote today on the TRAIN Act, a bill that creates a committee to determine whether the cost of proposed EPA regulations, including its latest mercury standards, is worth the benefit. Republicans argue that a weak economy is not the time for potentially costly changes. Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, proposed in July to wrap mercury regulations into this yearlong review. "What I have proposed is that we go forward with regulations that are reasonable and workable but which allow a little more time for compliance, so as to temper the job loss impact as well as the increased costs on electricity consumers," he explained to TIME. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton and Joe Barton of Texas have supported the delay on similar grounds.

    And

    Yet this delay faces strong opposition from the rule's supporters, including evangelicals who argue that mercury pollution is an immediate crisis for the unborn. At the forefront is the Evangelical Environmental Network, a coalition of religious leaders that calls its work "grounded in the Bible's teaching of the responsibility of God's people to 'tend the garden'" of Earth. The group's leader, Rev. Mitch Hescox, is a registered Republican who worked in the utility and coal industries for 14 years before becoming a pastor.

    Taking the fight to Republican critics of the EPA move, the EEN is mounting an ad campaign targeting Republicans Whitfield, Upton and Barton for opposing mercury restrictions while running on pro-life platforms. "I expect members of Congress who claim that they are pro life to use their power to protect the life, especially the unborn," says a local pastor and mother in one of the ads. "I can't understand why Congressman Ed Whitfield is fighting to stop the EPA from enforcing its plan specifically meant to protect the unborn by cleaning up dangerous mercury pollution." The ads have run on 120 Christian and country radio station in Whitfield, Barton and Upton's districts for the week prior to the Train Act vote. More than 100 evangelical pastors and leaders have also signed the "Evangelical Call to Stop The Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn," including representatives from over 10 Christian colleges, National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson and Christianity Today's Editor-in-Chief David Neff. The United States Council of Catholic Bishops submitted similar concerns. "A national standard limiting mercury and other toxic air pollution represents an important opportunity to protect the health and welfare of all people, especially our children and poor and vulnerable communities," wrote Bishop Stephen Blaire. "While there are short-term costs involved in implementing this standard, the health benefits of such a rule outweigh these costs."

    Supporters of the regulations cite studies that jobs and costs are not at stake if the regulations go into effect as the EPA hopes. An analysis by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute analysis shows the toxins rule would create a net 28,000 to 158,000 jobs over the next four years; the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts puts the overall estimate even higher at 1.5 million in positions associated with the new pollution controls. The EPI also argues that the new standards could save $55 billion to $146 billion per year in health costs, dwarfing the $11.3 billion annual cost of imposing the regulations. Some inside the industry also agree the rules should pass soon. Over 30 energy companies, including PSE&G and National Grid, urged Congress in a July 11 letter to follow the EPA's regulations. Concerns about the industry's ability to implement new standards are, they say, "based on assumptions that underestimate the ability of America's electric sector to invest, retrofit, and construct new clean generation."

    Even so, some of the Republicans under pressure are suspicious of the EEN's motives. "This is an activist environmental group parading under the banner of evangelical Christianity and the right to life," Whitfield's chief of staff John Sparkman told TIME. "I don't think it will have resonance in our district."

    We at EEN especially love this last quote from Congressman Whitfield's Chief of Staff. You know you're making headway when people resort to calling you names.

    We'd also like to highlight what the article points out: this isn't just EEN, but over 100 senior evangelical leaders and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. We're in this together fighting to protect the unborn from mercury pollution.

  • Saving Our Children

    August 29,2011, 10:07 AM

    by Ben Lowe

    by lunar caustic from flickr creative commons
    by lunar caustic from flickr creative commons

    It is often said that the safest place in the world is our mother's womb. Tragically, because of mercury poisoning, this may no longer be true. But now we can really do something about it.

    About 700,000 American babies -- one out of six -- are born annually with harmful levels of mercury in their blood and begin their lives with mercury poisoning. Unlike other environmental problems, this one -- caused mostly by emissions from coal-burning power plants -- could be solved relatively easily and affordably.

    Mercury is a neurotoxin that causes brain damage and serious developmental disabilities -- especially in fetuses and infants -- and leads to lowered intelligence and learning problems throughout life. Mercury poisoning is not just about the environment; it is also about the life and health of our children.

    As an evangelical Christian, I believe that each life is of infinite worth to God, and should be to us, as well. Jesus taught us to love our neighbor and treat others as we would want to be treated. Protecting the unborn and children from mercury poisoning is in keeping with Jesus' commands.

    The cause of mercury poisoning is you and me: our need for cheap energy. The mercury is emitted from coal-burning power plant smokestacks. It falls from the air, polluting waterways and contaminating fish. Expectant mothers eat the fish. The mercury accumulates in the mother's blood and circulates across the placenta to the unborn child. There are now mercury fish-catch warnings in all 50 states.

    by garreyf from flickr creative commons
    by garreyf from flickr creative commons

    I live in a low-income community in Illinois and I love fishing, as do my neighbors who fish regularly to provide protein to their families. I remember catching a big fish in one of our local rivers. I was getting ready to throw it back when a man walked up and asked for it, to feed his family. I explained that a fish this big was full of toxic mercury, which would hurt his children. It's OK, he said, they need the food.

    I ended up giving him the fish but, no, it is not OK. Not in my community. Not in America. Not anywhere.

    Why can't our families eat the fish from our rivers and lakes without risking mercury poisoning? Is this the inheritance my generation and future generations are being left with? I understand that we live in a complicated world, but this is morally wrong. It is sinful.

    So what can we do?

    First, mothers can limit the amount of fish they eat during pregnancy. This does not solve the problem, but it does help protect children during their most vulnerable stages. Look online for your state's mercury guidelines.

    Second, we can limit the domestic mercury pollution emitted by coal-fired power plants. Studies show that this has a measurable positive health impact. The more responsible energy utilities already are using cost-effective technologies to clean up mercury emissions fully.

    In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally issued preliminary new mercury standards this spring, ensuring that the rest of the energy industry follows suit and effectively reduces mercury emissions from coal-fired utilities by 90 percent.

    The problem is that many in Congress are vigorously opposing the EPA on behalf of fossil fuel special interests that do not want to pay to clean up their pollution. This is inexcusable, and we must contact our elected officials and demand that they protect our unborn children by not opposing the EPA's efforts to limit mercury pollution. The Evangelical Environmental Network has been working with church leaders around the country to do just this.

    Here is the bottom line: We have a responsibility to protect life, and that means getting serious about mercury poisoning. As a young evangelical Christian, I am very grateful that the EPA and many in the energy and faith communities are working together to protect life and create a healthier country for me and for my children to inherit. They have my prayers.

    re-posted with permission

    Ben Lowe, author of "Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation," is director of young adult ministries for the Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • Evangelicals, Mercury Poisoning and Energy Efficiency

    August 16,2011, 19:41 PM

    by Jerry Lawson

    What in the world does one of these things have to do with the other? Let me explain the connection. We all grew up hearing you can "fight fire with fire." A "firebreak" results from a deliberately set and controlled fire that burns up all the fuel (brush, kindling, etc.) in the way of an approaching, uncontrolled fire. A burned-over area with no fuel left protects humans, homes and other property from the more dangerous uncontrolled fire.

    The firebreak concept explains why the Evangelical Environmental Network recommends compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) (with dozens of other energy efficiency technologies and strategies) in its stewardship campaigns for creation care and against mercury emissions, which can poison unborn and young children. You see, those highly efficient and cost-effective CFLs contain a tiny amount of mercury vapor (which glows brightly to create light when electrified within the bulb), yet the more we use CFLs to replace inefficient, old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs"so we can burn less coal"the less mercury enters our air, water, soil and food. How can this be?

    Back to the "fighting fire with fire" concept. The Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for which protecting human health is its primary mission, estimates that about 103 metric tons of mercury are released in the United States annually. More than half of these emissions come from burning coal to generate electricity, the main way that mercury gets into our air, water and fish. Most fish can be healthy to eat, but some are not. Young children and the unborn, especially, are vulnerable to mercury poisoning.

    CFLs contain about 4 milligrams (mg) of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. (By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 mg of mercury, or 125 times that of a CFL.) No mercury is released when CFLs are in use or recycled unbroken. Technology advances and a commitment by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association have dropped the average mercury content in CFLs at least 20% in recent years. Some manufacturers have reduced mercury content to 1 mg per CFL.

    However, coal-fired power plant emissions account for about 858 times more mercury than the "worst case" from CFLs. The key fact is that CFLs use less electricity than incandescent bulbs, meaning CFLs reduce mercury emissions overall by reducing coal burning. Specifically, a 13-watt, 8,000-hour-rated-life CFL (the common 60-watt equivalent) will save 376 kWh over its lifetime, preventing a net 4.3 mg of mercury. A CFL sent to landfill drops overall emissions a little, to 3.9 mg. Furthermore, if CFLs are recycled (at The Home Depot or other recyclers found at www.Earth911.org), virtually all the mercury in CFLs could be contained.

    Energy Star promotes energy efficiency, and the EPA is working to require electric utilities to do better at preventing power plant mercury emissions, while the Evangelical Environmental Network supports the EPA's effort. Learn more about the Evangelical Environmental Network's creation care and mercury reduction campaigns at www.creationcare.org, and learn the facts about mercury at http://www.epa.gov/mercury/. For more on CFLs, recycling them and more ways to prevent pollution with energy efficiency, visit www.energystar.gov/cfls

    re-posted with permission

    Jerry Lawson is national manager of Energy Star's Small Business and Congregations Network. For more information visit www.energystar.gov or call toll-free at (888) 782-7937.

  • Study Explores Inorganic Mercury in Soil

    July 20,2011, 09:33 AM

    by Alexei Laushkin

    What is the mercury content of soil near coal-fired powerplants? A new study by the University of Indiana at Purdue is among the first to investigate these mercury deposits. The report which is out in this July's Water, Air, & Soil Pollution reports that soil near coal-fired power plants has increased levels of mercury which than enter regional watersheds contaiminating fish.

    "We are fouling our local as well as global environment and little has been done to stop it. It all comes down to the choices we make to produce energy." said Gabriel M. Filippeli, Ph.D., profesor of earth science at Indaina University.

    For more information on the study click here.

  • Let Freedom Ring!

    June 27,2011, 07:10 AM

    by Candace Carrillo used through flickr creative commons


    by Candace Carrillo used through flickr creative commons

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - Declaration of Independence, 1776

    by Mitch Hescox

    My evangelical Christian faith holds life as both precious and sacred, as does the founding document of these United States. However, such fundamental rights and our government's ability to secure these rights is based upon knowing the truth about things that might contribute to or impede life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is why the First Amendment to our Constitution provides for freedom of the press. But for journalists to fulfill their beneficial function in our society they must get us in the neighborhood of the truth. When they actually lead us away from the truth, especially when it comes to human health - something absolutely fundamental to our pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness - then they not only fail to fulfill their constructive role of finding the truth, they find themselves in opposition to the values of our country.

    A perfect example of such journalistic failure appeared in an editorial by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on June 13, 2011, entitled "The EPA's War on Jobs," criticizing the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule to reduce mercury pollution.

    The WSJ is one of the most respected news and financial publications in the world. Yet how its editorial board could not do a thorough fact check before printing this piece is troubling.

    Below are just a few examples:

    First, the Journal states "even by the EPA's lowball estimates, it is the most expensive rule in the agency's history." Contrary to the assertion that EPA does "low ball estimates," it is a historical fact that the opposite is true; EPA traditionally overestimates the cost of compliance. This is especially the case with the Clean Air Act regulations. Cleaning up acid rain provides most comparable analogy to the proposed mercury regulations; it's the same industry with similar technology. During the discussions on acid rain, EPA estimated $750 per ton of sulfur dioxide removal, the utility industry suggested $1500 per ton, and the actual cost less than $200 per ton.1 As for the claim that it will be an expensive rule, this is true. But it is an investment that will produce a net increase in jobs and reap $5-13 in health benefits for every $1 spent. That's quite a deal.

    The WSJ editorial does mention the claims about the terrific health benefits the regulation will produce, but wrongly asserts that because they are primarily from particulate reductions rather than from mercury, that this is analogous to "a corporation double-counting revenue."

    There is no double-counting here whatsoever. The particulate reductions achieved by this regulation are new and additional reductions, resulting in new and additional health benefits.

    By falsely ignoring the substantial health benefits from the particulate and other toxin reductions, the WSJ then claims that we will have to spend $1,847 to achieve $1 in benefits from mercury reduction. That's like purchasing a new car for $20,000, removing a front tire, and then saying that tire is worth about what we paid for the whole car.

    Another false claim is that the process for creating this regulation has been "overly rushed," and that industry needs more time to comment on the proposed regulation. How is something 20 years in the making overly rushed?

    From the perspective of human health, from the perspective of providing all unborn children a fuller life, liberty from the debilitating impacts of mercury poisoning, and a chance at happiness, freedom from this pollution is long overdue. Overly rushed? Quite the opposite.

    The WSJ editorial also falsely claims that "reliability downgrades will hit the South and Midwest."

    But utility representatives themselves debunk this. In recent testimony at EPA's public hearing in Philadelphia, Exelon's Bruce Alexander stated that "nothing about this rule [the mercury regulation] will jeopardize the reliability of the electric system." 2 Testifying before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, Michael Bradley, representing a coalition of utilities, stated that "we do not believe compliance with the rule will compromise the reliability of the electric system."3 And a recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Centers says, "While an emergency reliability issue is unlikely and should be preventable with proper planning and oversight, DOE and FERC have authority to address such situations if they arise."4

    Lastly, the WSJ editorial quotes the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers opinion that the mercury regulation would be a job killer. While the IBEW source was not revealed, this simply doesn't match with EPA modeling that provides a modest 31,000 construction jobs and net 9000 new permanent positions.5 Nor does it match the conclusion of a just-released report from the Economic Policy Institute, the labor movement's premiere analytical shop. It states: "The toxics rule would have a modest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015."6

    All Americans have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let's stop jeopardizing our well-being by partisan politics, misstatements, or poor research. We can have true dialogue that rises above today's ranker. For the sake of our children, let us uphold the values enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, which call us to stop the mercury poisoning of children here today and those yet to be born.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is the President/C.E.O. of the Evangelical Environmental Network. To learn more and act on mercury & the unborn click here.

    _____________

    1 William Reilly, The EPA's Cost Underruns. Washington Post, Oct. 14, 2003.

    2
    http://www.exeloncorp.com/assets/newsroom/speeches/docs/speech_Alexander_PhilaEPAHearing_110524.pdf

    3 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power Hearing on "The American Energy Initiative" regarding Recent EPA Rulemakings Relating to Boilers, Cement Manufacturing Plants, and Utilities, April 15, 2011. For Bradley's testimony, go to:

    http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/Hearings/Energy/041511_2/Bradley.pdf.

    4 Bi-Partisan Policy Center, Environmental Regulation and Electric System Reliability, June 2011: http://www.eenews.net/assets/2011/06/13/document_pm_02.pdf.

    5 EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards: Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts

    6 Economic Policy Institute, A Lifesaver, Not A Job Killer: EPA's proposed "air toxic rule" is no threat to job growth, Briefing Paper #312 (June 14, 2011):
    http://w3.epi-data.org/temp2011/BriefingPaper312%20%282%29.pdf

  • Fish Stories

    June 08,2011, 14:17 PM

    The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently published an op-ed "The Myth of Killer Mercury" by Willie Soon and Paul Driessen. You can find the original piece here. EEN submitted the following note to the editors of the WSJ and received no reply. Please note this piece contains footnotes linked at the end of the author's tagline.

    by Mitch Hescox

    We all tell fish stories. Those wonderful stories of the fish that got away, and it was much larger in the veracity of our imagination than reality. All of us tell tales greater than the truth. Maybe the motivation for the fish story resides in our desire for others to believe our stories; or perhaps we become so convicted in our beliefs that the reality of the truth goes beyond our capacity to see past our prejudices. Researchers know that no one is unbiased " that is why peer-review is so critical. Having others evaluate one's work minimizes the bias.

    photo by Jasin Bushnaief used through Flickr Creative Commons
    photo by Jasin Bushnaief used through Flickr Creative Commons

    Unfortunately, fish stories make it more and more into respected publications. Certainly, I have made mistakes in my writing, but through proper vetting my embellishments are reduced and the truth hopefully emerges. Seeing something in print filled with misstatements or that is poorly researched raises my blood pressure and also raises the question the author's intent. Just last week the Wall Street Journal published, "The Myth of Killer Mercury" by Willie Soon and Paul Driessen. The op-ed clearly stands against the new EPA proposed standards for mercury and other air pollutants, something my organization supports. Hopefully the authors just made errors in research and were not attempting any misinformation. Below are just a few of the op-ed's faulty assertions with an attempt to correct the record.

    " EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claims that while the regulations will cost electricity producers $10.9 billion annually, they will save 17,000 lives and generate up to $140 billion in health benefits.

    The EPA is not claiming that the 17,000 lives saved and $140 billion in health benefits will come from mercury reductions. Rather, these particular savings come from the health benefits of the reductions in sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter, and the EPA makes this abundantly clear. For these claims there is a substantial factual basis. It is hard to understand how Soon and Driessen could have misunderstood this.

    " Mercury is found in air, water, rocks, soil and trees, which absorb it from the environment. This is why our bodies evolved with proteins and antioxidants that help protect us from this and other potential contaminants"

    Health professionals for over 100 years have known that mercury is a serious threat. The term "Mad-Hatter" started from factory workers inhaling mercury used in the felt hat industry in 19th century England. While mercury poses less of a health problem to adults, unborn children are extremely vulnerable because their bodies are too young to have developed our natural defenses against it. Currently 1 in 6 unborn children have harmful levels of mercury in their blood.1 The FDA has issued detailed warnings on fish consumption during pregnancy and all 50 states have either complete or partial fish advisories for locally caught fish.2,3 Soon and Driessen must know that the unborn and young children are much more vulnerable.

    " But U.S. forest fires emit at least 44 tons per year; cremation of human remains discharges 26 tons"

    While reputable researchers have estimated that forest fires place 44 tons tons of mercury into the air each year as Soon and Driessen claim, the mercury actually originates from coal-burning power plants, the very sources Soon and Driessen don't want us to regulate. The emissions from burning coal fall into forests, and then spread from the hot updrafts as the forest burns.4 As for their assertion about cremation, according to the latest mercury assessment, crematoriums emit less than 1 ton, not the 26 tons they erroneously claim.5 It's hard to understand how Soon and Driessen could have so completely mischaracterized and misstated these facts.

    Soon and Driessen also seem to place the blame for our mercury problem on foreign nations. Depending upon where you live, anywhere from 10 to 80% of US mercury pollution comes from domestic sources6 and over 50% of domestic anthropogenic mercury emissions come from coal-burning power plants, making them the largest such source.7 Global mercury emissions do remain large in Asia, but I for one don't wish to wait for the Chinese to protect our unborn children. Individual state efforts8,9 prove we can reduce mercury and the threats to our unborn. With a national standard, we can continue removing mercury as a threat by reducing 91% of the mercury emissions and 55% of the SO2 emissions from the largest source of these emissions in the US: coal-burning power plants.10

    " A 17-year evaluation of mercury risk to babies and children by the Seychelles Children Development Study found "no measurable cognitive or behavioral effects" in children who eat several servings of ocean fish every week, much more than most Americans do". Instead, the agency based its "safe" mercury criteria on a study of Faroe Islanders"

    The authors place huge weight on the Seychelles Island study over against the Faroe Islands study. First, the Faroe Islands research selection came not from the EPA but from a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, who clearly thought it was appropriate. Second, there is no mention of a similar study with matching results to that of the Faroe Islands study, completed in New Zealand. Finally, the updated research from the Seychelles study (2010) correlates to both the Faroe Islands and New Zealand research.11 The selective use of an older study, which itself has been superseded by an updated version that now agrees with the other studies, raises serious questions about the reliability of this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
    We have a tendency to laugh at fish stories. Our hearts know that when told at a family picnic they are harmless and part of our American culture. Yet our new American culture allows fish stories to end up as op-eds in the Wall Street Journal. The unfortunate "fish story" here is that many fish contain dangerous levels of mercury, and the fish threaten our unborn children. They deserve more than a fish story; the unborn deserve our protection and an abundant life.

    The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox is President/C.E.O. of The Evangelical Environmental Network, a ministry dedicated to promoting Creation Care: It's a Matter of Life.

    ___

    [1]Maffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary Mercury Intake",Environmental Health Perspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004).

    [2]http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/outreach/factsheet.cfm

    [3]http://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/mercnet.html

    [4]http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=110320

    [5] EPA website, http://www.epa.gov/mercury/about.html. Data from the 2005 National EmissionsInventory

    [6]Selin, "Global Biogeochemical Cycling of Mercury: A Review," Annual Review of Environmental. Resources(2009) Vol. 34 (2009): p. 48

    [7]EPA website, http://www.epa.gov/mercury/about.html. Data from the 2005 National EmissionsInventory

    [8]Florida DEP, Integrating Atmospheric Mercury Deposition with Aquatic Cycling inSouth Florida, Nov 2003.

    [9]Mark Smith, http://www.env.state.ma.us/eea/09-met-conf-presentations/met_event_sharon_weber.pdf

    [10]EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air ToxicsStandards: Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts, p. 2.

    [11]Lynch, ML, L-S Huang, C Cox, JJ Strain, GJ Myers, MP Bonham, CF Shamlaye, AStokes-Riner, JMW Wallance, EM Duffy, TW Clarkson and PW Davidson. 2010. Varying coefficient function models to explore interactions between maternal nutritional status andprenatal methylmercury toxicity in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study. Environmental Research http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2010.09.005.

  • The Rev. Mitch Hescox's Testimony to the EPA Hearing in Philadelphia on May 24, 2011

    May 26,2011, 08:04 AM

    Good Morning;

    I am the Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox, President & C.E.O.of the Evangelical Environmental Network, a group founded in 1993 dedicated to helping others understand that creation care is a matter of life. Before my current ministry, I served for 18years as Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Shrewsbury, PA and before that served for 14 years as a worldwide supplier of grinding/processing equipment to coal-firedutilities and coal mining. Coal has been in my blood before birth as my father, most uncles, grandfathers, and childhood friends all worked at one time or another as miners or in coal-fired electricgenerating stations.

    Testimony

    Christians are called to protect life; it's sacred, and for most evangelicals that includes the unborn. We take very seriously the biblical belief that life begins at conception as God knits us together:

    Psalm139:13 (ESV)

    For youformed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

    The unborn are the weakest members of our society. We must protect them and insure their right to an abundant life. We already lose 1.2 million unborn children in the United States to the painful choice of abortion each year, but few realize that each year we jeopardize another 700,000 unbornchildren to the neurological damage from mercury poisoning. One in six babies is born with harmful levels of mercury in their blood,[i] and coal-burning power plants are the largest source of domestic mercury pollution.

    Mercury is extremely toxic to the brain and nervous system, especially to the rapidly developing brain of the unborn child during early pregnancy. Simply consuming mercury-contaminated fish during pregnancy exposes the unborn. Eating fish with its high levels of Omega 3's and other healthy nutrients should be encouraged,but most physicians recommend eating only one serving per week as mercury accumulates in the unborn's brain, causing developmental disabilities, resulting in lowered intelligence, and learning problems. This has lifetime implications. One study found that "The resulting loss of intelligence causes diminished economic productivity that persists over the entire lifetime of these children."[ii] We are hindering our children from an abundant life and their pursuit of the American dream because we have failed to clean up this terrible poison.

    Luke 18:15-16 (ESV)

    Now they were bringing even infants to him that he mighttouch them. And when the disciples saw it, theyrebukedthem. But Jesus called them to him, saying,"Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

    Twenty years of inaction by the EPA, Congress, and the utility industry is far too long. In ourt radition and in many other faith traditions, children are special " indeed all life is sacred. We have waited since the amended 1990 Clean Air Act signed by President George H. W. Bush for mercury protection for the unborn to be instituted. Some here today will claim that the EPA is acting too quickly and more time is needed. How many lives have been hindered by our inaction to limit our unborn children's exposure to this threat? One child hindered from reaching his or her fullest potential because of our sinful inaction is too many.

    In May 2011, I walked over 300 miles from West Virginia toWashington, DC as part of our Creation Care Walk. We traversed areas of mountaintop removal,some of the most beautiful landscapes God created in the eastern United States, rural towns, suburbs, and cities. However, the most horrific signs along the way were the mercury fish advisories posted along so many of our streams and rivers. Mercury contaminates over 6 million acres offreshwater lakes, 46,000 miles of streams, and 225,000 wetland acres across the United States. Much of our fresh water in every corner of America contains dangerous mercury levels. In fact, every state has some type of fish consumption advisory, including the recommendation for pregnant women not to eat any locally caught fish. Just three weeks ago, we had a family outing to Valley Forge National Park. My daughter-in-law is a photographer and as we passed the covered bridge she asked for a photo. We walked around the bridge and right there was a sign posted, "Attention All Fishermen " No Fish May be Killed or Held in Possession From This Stream." Just 30 feet away, a man was fishing. Returning home, we went to the Pennsylvania Fish Advisory Website and learned that the stream was filled with both mercury and PCB's.

    In a recent meeting with a pastor from York County, PA, he shared how his family once depended on locally caught fish as a source of protein. Now he is afraid of even taking his sons fishing in Pennsylvania because of the mercury warnings. It is time to act. No more delays, no more inaction. We must protect our unborn from mercury poisoning, the weakest in our society.

    Psalm82:3 (ESV)

    Give justice totheweak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

    Our Holy Scriptures calls us to defend the weak. Others may offer testimony that this rule will be far too costly, hurting the poor. They cite the 10 billion dollars per year cost to implement the complete rule for mercury and the other toxins. Ten billion is a huge sum, but distributed per consumer in the United States results in an average maximum cost of $7.00 per month per household. While the poorest might face impacts, the pollution reductions will return $5 " 13 in health benefits forevery $1 spent on emission reduction.[iii] Still others will claim a massive loss injobs in our still faltering economy. These facts simply do not add up. While Pennsylvania may lose some jobs, the nation will have a net increase of approximately 30,000 jobs during installation.

    Lastly, some at today's hearing will cry foul. They will state mercury emitted, especially from Asia, provides the source for the threat to our unborn. Significant mercury transports into the United States, but in many states east of the Mississippi, the largest mercury deposition comes from domestic sources.[iv] International mercury sources must be addressed. But for us to ignore our responsibility wanting for others violates both the Biblical instruction to order our house:

    1 Timothy3:4a (ESV)

    He must manage his own household well,"

    and something just about every mother, including mine, said at one time or another, "Two wrongs don't make a right." To wait for China to clean up its act before we protect our unborn children from our own mess makes absolutely no sense.

    Mercury threatens one (1) in six (6) unborn children, and we can help them and others. This is a pro-life Biblical imperative and I therefore urge implementation of the NESHAP proposed rule for utility boilers to address the largest domestic source of mercury poisoning without any additional delays or weakening modifications.

    [i]See Mahaffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercuryand Dietary Mercury Intake" EnvironmentalHealth Perspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004).

    [ii] Trasande, et al., "Public Health and EconomicConsequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain," Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol.113, No. 5 (May 2005): p. 590.

    [iii] EPA, Power Plant Mercury and Air Toxics Standards:Overview of Proposed Rule and Impacts, p. 2.

    [iv] Noelle Selin, "Global Biogeochemical Cycling ofMercury: A Review," Annual Review ofEnvironmental. Resources (2009) Vol.34 (2009): p. 52; http://globalchange.mit.edu/files/document/MITJPSPGC_Reprint_09-15.pdf

  • Correcting False and Misleading Impressions About EEN's Efforts to Protect the Unborn From Mercury

    May 26,2011, 07:29 AM

    by Mitch Hescox

    EEN's long-time critic, Dr. Cal Beisner, is once again disagreeing with us, this time over our efforts to protect the unborn from mercury pollution. Dr. Beisner had a post on Crosswalk and in the Washington Times with several inaccuracies and misrepresentations. We asked him privately (Mt. 18:15) to retract these false impressions. Instead, in his newsletter put out after we had asked for a retraction he repeated the same inaccuracies without correcting the record.

    Therefore, so as not to let these misrepresentations stand and continue to mislead, we are ourselves putting forward the truth of the situation, correcting what was in Crosswalk and the Washington Times.

    1. Dr. Beisner claimed that our fact sheet made the following statement: "The main source of mercury pollution is dirty air released by coal-burning power plants." He put these words in quotation marks, yet we cannot find such a statement in our fact sheet. He went on to say that what he quoted -- which, again, we cannot find -- is "suspect," because a good portion of mercury pollution comes from foreign or international sources.

    Here's the problem with Dr. Beisner's presentation on this point. The very fact sheet he quotes states this: "coal-burning power plants are the largest source of domestic mercury pollution." We say over and over again in this fact sheet and elsewhere on our website and in our other materials that the largest domestic source is coal-burning power plants. Furthermore, in the fact sheet we have a major section entitled, "Where the Mercury Comes From," which explains, among other things, that some of the mercury pollution here in the U.S. comes from other countries. We even have a map of the U.S. that shows where the larger domestic depositions of mercury pollution are. We have been very clear on this point. How Dr. Beisner could think otherwise is beyond us.

    2. In our materials we put forward the fact that 1-in-6 babies in the U.S. are born with harmful levels of mercury in their blood. Dr. Beisner states: "The campaign's literature offers no source for the statistics [meaning the 1-in-6 citation]. Their most likely origin, however, seems to be an ad by the environmental advocacy group ..."

    The claim by Dr. Beisner that our literature offers no source for this fact is demonstrably false. The EEN fact sheet he references clearly cites the following peer-reviewed article as the basis for the fact that 1-in-6 babies in the U.S. are born with harmful levels of mercury in their blood: Mahaffey et al., "Blood Organic Mercury and Dietary Mercury Intake" Environmental Health Perspectives, 112, #5 (April 2004). http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2003/6587/6587.html

    For Dr. Beisner to then speculate in public that it could have come from an ad by an environmental group is quite sad, when, again, it is clear that it came from a peer-reviewed journal article. (Even if Dr. Beisner missed the citation, he could have contacted us and asked for the citation instead of making such false speculations in public.)

    Again, we pointed out these inaccuracies privately to Dr. Beisner, asking for a retraction. He didn't respond. Subsequently he sent out a newsletter with the same inaccuracies discussed above. This has led us to post this correction for the record.

    The Rev. Mitch Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

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